Saturday, 17 December 2011

Fairy Tales with Dubious Morals: Part II

The Princess and the Pea

Somewhere in Denmark, a prince is lounging around heaving sad sighs – he has his heart set on marrying a princess, but none of the ones he’s met are awesome enough to deserve him. He’s also suspicious that some may be only pretending to be princesses (this frankly baffling paranoia is never explained; presumably he had a bad experience of some kind). 

This being a fairy tale, into the midst of his naval-gazing comes a young woman claiming to be a princess, who seeks shelter at his castle on a stormy night. The prince quite likes the look of the little goer, but tells his mother that he couldn’t possibly marry her without being utterly certain that she is a real princess. Presumably this is in response to the mum doing that old people nudge-nudge-wink-wink thing at him behind her back the whole time; either that or he's in the habit of discussing his possible conquests with her.

 Pictured: every girl's dream.

His mother responds by giving the girl a bed with twenty mattresses to sleep on, but placing a single pea at the bottom of them all. In the morning, when asked how she slept, the girl responds with a tirade about how she didn’t sleep a wink because something hard kept bruising her (fnar, fnar). The prince and his mother realise that she is a real princess after all – for only a princess could be spoilt beyond all reason – er, delicate enough, to feel a pea through twenty mattresses. The prince marries her, and she presumably repays him for the horribly uncomfortable night she spent being unwittingly auditioned with a solid kick to the kidneys. 

The Supposed Moral

You got me there. Honestly, I’m not sure. The innate nobility of monarchs? The erotic appeal of fragility? The importance of protecting your bloodline from covert pollution by inferior beings?

... Wait, what?

The Actual Moral 

Marrying somebody from a different social class is not merely out of the question – it honestly does not even register on the scale of possibility.

 Look at them, with their scabies, and their beady little eyes. They eat rats you know.

But that’s okay, right? It’s a fairy tale. Princes marry princesses, witches cast spells and monsters get their shit ruined; them’s just the rules. And besides, everyone understands that it’s from a different time. It’s not like “them & us” attitudes about your innate superiority to The Others have caused us any real problems in, say, the last hundred years or so...

... All right, except for that ONE TIME.

All I’m saying is, you have to wonder if Prince Purity’s attitude extends to race, religion, or nationality. Because those are some pretty fucked up implications on the inherent inferiority of the 99.999% of the human race who aren’t royalty.
“Remove your physical perfection and unconditional adoration from my sight, peasant. Arbitrary inherited titles are how we select life-partners in this social strata.”

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