By Guest Author
Posted December 16, 2012
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by Charlotte Henley Babb
Magic in fairy tales is not as powerful as you might think. It’s good for the once in a lifetime chance for a change, but the person involved must be ready and able to take on the challenge. It’s rare that someone wishes for something practical. In fact, almost all wish stories are about how wishing is dangerous, and while the wish may be granted, it will almost certainly be harmful. Those kinds of stories are about keeping people in their place.
What kinds of chances do modern people need? An opening where a circumstance makes things different just for a little while.
In Don’t Tell Mom the Baby Sitter’s Dead, the teenage girl takes on responsibility, though she lies and steals to get her job and then to keep her boss from finding out what she has done. Her brother learns to cook and the younger brother stops being a brat at least for a few moments. For any of this to work out, there has to be a fairy godmother around, maybe the spirit of the dead babysitter. Of course, there’s always willing suspension of disbelief.
In 9-to-5, the women tied up the boss and made the changes they wanted themselves. They gave him the credit, so that he wouldn’t rat them out, but they took charge. Their fairy godmother shows up with an idea while they are drinking, though you never see her.
In Pretty Woman, both characters chose to give up their view of life, which is why it’s important that the rich man braved his fear of heights to come to get his woman. The fairy godmother there is the concierge who knows how to manage for his customer’s guests.
Even in The Princess Bride, which really should have been called Dread Pirate Wesley, the story was not about the girl, who was not a princess, but about the power of Wesley’s love for her. He came back for her as soon as he could do so, even from death, and in rescuing her, delivered the kingdom from the rotten prince. Mad Max and his witch wife provide the magic to bring Wesley back to life after the six-fingered man kills him.
Looked at in this way, The Devil Wears Prada is a Cinderella story with the evil boss as the fairy godmother who makes things hard on the girl, so that the girl will find out who she is and what she is made of, eventually taking responsibility for becoming what she wants to be. The boss’s smile when the girl quits shows that the boss knows exactly what she is doing and that her work is done with this one. The TV series Ugly Betty requires the machinations of the grasping Vanessa Williams character to fuel the growth of each character. When she falls in love and finally finds herself, there’s not motivation for the story. The boss quits, Betty moves on and the show ends.
There’s a theme here. In Mundane, what passes for the real world, a person has to be on the lookout for the chance for the change, and then roll with it, risking everything, knowing that it might not work out, that the plot might not be a comedy.
We’re willing to believe in coincidences and happy accidents, and those are engineered by fairy godmothers in the real world. We don’t see them, most of the time, and if they are written into the story, they pose as maids, homeless people or others who are invisible in society.
Even you might be in a position to be someone else’s fairy godmother, with a kind word, a helping hand, or a bit of a nudge in a new direction. The job of the fairy godmother is only to spark the chance for a change. It’s up to the person to brave a new situation and rise to meet the challenge.
What’s your challenge today, and how are you going to roll?
Maven’s new dream job–fairy godmother–presents more problems than she expects when she learns that Faery is on the verge of collapse, and the person who is training her isn’t giving her the facts–and may be out to kill her. Will she be able to make all the fractured fairy tales fit together into a happy ending, or will she be eaten by a troll?
Charlotte Babb began writing when she could hold a piece of chalk and scribble her name–although she sometimes mistook “Chocolate” for “Charlotte” on the sign at the drug store ice cream counter. She has studied the folk stories of many cultures and wonders what happened to ours. Where are the stories are for people over 20 who have survived marriage, divorce, child-rearing, education, bankruptcy, and widowhood?
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