I dragged Richard out to attend the Wild Swans event at the Italian Forum in support of my teacher who was the violinist. They’re doing tonight as a live rehearsal for the Sunday Live radio program broadcast on ABC Classic 2 the next day. Victoria told me there has always been the music event, and the story event, but never the two together.
I wasn’t already familiar with the story written by Hans Christian Andersen, but the performance was lovely. The music by Elena Kats-Chernin was beautifully performed and suited the story well, and it was interesting to see all the scenes you conjured up in your head just by listening to the music and narration.
But. But I have so many issues with the story. I have so many issues with fairy tales.
Basically, in (this rendition of) Wild Swans and many other fairy tales:
- If you’re beautiful or handsome, you’ll be okay.
- Actually, not true. You also have to be fair-skinned and have golden hair and bright light eyes. (I’m just avoiding the word “Caucasian” here now, aren’t I?)
- Stepmothers are evil and wicked. Always.
- Kidnapping and implied raping a lady you found on the streets is okay, because you’re a handsome king and she’ll eventually fall in love with you.
- Remember, be beautiful and fair!
- Sucks to be you if you’re the youngest of 11 handsome princes, though.
I suppose that’s not the worst of fairy tales because the princess is actually actively rescuing her brothers, but I’m not sure that if I had children, I want them to be exposed to many of these stories at all. I do realise Wild Swans was written almost 200 years ago, and at least now, 200 years later, I can sort of take solace in the fact that even Disney has started to improve on their princesses and female protagonists.