If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales. —Albert Einstein
Traditional fairy tales were the old center of a child’s learning. Before television or radio, it was the bed time story, the fireside story, or the front porch story that entertained and educated the rising generation. With the advent of modern technology the telling of stories has lost the intimate and human touch (the bedside, the fireplace, and the front porch). Stories have become digital. While tall tales can now reach the masses, the inverse is also true, stories are mass produced, mass marketed, and mass formulated. There is something about the mass that dilutes the power of story.
This is nowhere better seen than in the movies. Action movies are formulaic. The oral fairy tale was told as an interweaving between the emotional attunement of teller and hearer. Movies are not; they seek the maximum amount of entertainment dollars by formulating a spectacle for the masses. The fairy tale was the stage of the individual imagination. The modern action movie has become the mechanical pageantry of the coliseum. The first stage opened the imagination. The latter arena simply dulls the senses.
Conservative religious culture often swings counter the mass media culture by teaching its rising generation only Bible stories. The fantastic of the fairy tale is replaced by the morally pure pronouncements of the ethical tale. While there are folklore and fairytale elements to some biblical narratives, Noah, Jonah, and Samson are now taught as historical episodes whose imaginative resources have often been reduced to simple notions of “what does it mean to be obedient to god?”
It is good every once in a while to recalibrate our idea of what a good story is. Must a story be “true” in order to be moral? Or worthwhile? Or proper? Must a story be historical in order to be true? Must a story