Remixing Fairy Tales in Popular Media

What is it about imaginary worlds, fairy tales, and fantasy that excite us? While escaping reality through fiction has been one of the driving forces of popular media content- whether that be books, movies, or social media- I’ve been noticing that lately there is a lot more remixing and reinterpretation of stories. Here are some examples:

1. Once Upon a Time (TV series)

This television series mixes fictional characters from different sources (Grimm’s fairy tales, Disney movies, classic works of fiction, etc.) This series actually does a very good job of integrating different fairy tales- not just as a collage, but as reinterpretation. My favorite episode so far was one of Red Riding Hood- (spoiler alert). While the original story was about Red being eaten up by the wolf, in this episode, Red is a werewolf, although she does not discover until the end of the episode Her grandmother makes her wear a red hood, which prevents her from turning into a wolf- explaining why Red wore a red hood (something that was curious yet unexplained in the original fairy tale). There is also a modern-day component to the story, in which we see a glimpse of what that character would have been had he/she been born today. In the case of Red, she is a hot waitress at a diner.


2. Alice in Tumblr-land (Book)

This new book by Tim Manley is a raunchy reinterpretation of things that fairy tale characters would post on social media. Didn’t find it particularly inspiring, but makes for a good “bathroom read.”

3. Grimm (TV series)

This TV series is about a descendant of the Grimm brothers, who is able to “see” certain people who are monsters, or creatures called wesen. The series is very clever about introducing a new type of monster every week and often tying it with historical figures.

4. Once Upon a Time in Wonderland (TV series)

This is a spin-off television series from Once Upon a Time, where Alice (from Alice in Wonderland) is the main character. Unfortunately, it is not as good as Once Upon a Time, and at least until now, slaps together characters from different stories in a very forced manner and the characters are not very well-developed. A great upside to this series is that what it lacks in narrative and character development it makes up for in the Red Queen’s fashion.


5. Marks and Spencer (advertisement)

Marks and Spencer has a beautiful product placement-style ad that combines Alice in Wonderland, Arabian Nights, Red Riding Hood,  Hansel & Gretel, and Wizard of Oz. The advertisement seamlessly weaves together key motifs of these fairy tales and manages to do a great job of product placement at the same time.

The story starts off in a city, with the female protagonist (whom I will refer to as Alice) running after her white dog (instead of white rabbit) and falling into a manhole.


While Alice falls into a manhole, her clothes change. You see a glimpse of lingerie, and various home goods are included in her fall


The Mad Hatter’s tea table also features things from  M&S dinnerware/serveware. The guests hold purses/clutches, one of which Alice steals:


There is also a great contemporary take on Dorothy, cowardly lion, scarecrow, and tin man walking down the yellow brick road:



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