Rehabbing the villain! It's all the rage, and the latest iteration is Maleficent, which Steve Graydanus fisks here. I think this trend signifies two things. First, it caters to people's desire to feel insightful and broadminded, especially when they end up looking more insightful and broadminded than people who are in authority.
Second, it's super easy. I mean, the plot is already written. All you have to do is be clever enough to provide a little backstory and invent some cute, unexpected details -- something bored parents have been doing for centuries at storytime -- and it looks like you've made something cutting edge.
John Herreid had a few ideas on Facebook this morning:
BAD WOLF – In a flashback, we see how the grand-matriarch of the Red Hooded clan killed a young wolf’s mother and fellow pups. Now an adult, he trains for revenge… and dinner.
EVERY WITCH WAY – A beautiful young pastry chef marries a handsome woodsman. But when a tragic baking accident leaves her scarred and ugly, he abandons her in the forest. Can she win her children back with a house of treats, or will they misunderstand?
UNDER THE BRIDGE – Outcast by society after his warnings of a coming goat apocalypse are dismissed as fear mongering, Troll is the only one standing between total ecological devastation of the alpine mountainsides and the ravenous hordes of feral goats that prowl the land.
Oh, this is fun! Here are my contributions for rehabbed fairytale villains:
AND THEN THERE WERE THREE -- A homeless, displaced lone wolf craves companionship, but is met by an authoritarian culture (oink oink!) which shuts him out with more and more elaborate societal constructs. Finally, in a beautiful act of self immolation, he forces them to see him for what he really is: not an outsider at all, but our brother. Or at least, someone who finds our brother delicious.
THE VINEGAR JUG RULES -- An ambitious woman dares to challenge the patriarchy, spurring her convention-bound husband again and again to "fish" for what is lacking in their life. She processes through a series of promotions, and comes within inches of achieving the ultimate self-actualization as she recognizes the goddess that resides inside her -- but because of her husband's secret desire to keep her under the glass ceiling of her vinegar jug, her promising career is ruined. Men are like that.
MR. BAX AND HIS TOXIC BEANS. In this groundbreaking docufairytale, a race of strong, gentle beings live undisturbed, practicing basic hygiene and relying on essential oils and whatnot to keep them in good health and systemic balance in their home in the clouds -- until Big Pharma, headed by the nefarious Dr. Bax, dupes the gullible population on the ground into believing in "Magic Bax Beans" or, as they come to be known, "Baxeans." Because of these beans, which grow and proliferate at a $u$piciou$ rate, the peaceful lives of the gentle giants are infiltrated and disrupted forever, and everybody falls down and dies.
THUMBO - A couple has a fulfilling life pursuing their interest in traditional, artisanal crafts such as making handmade clothing and furniture, and growing their own food. Their contentment is disrupted when the woman becomes brainwashed by a fundamentalist element in their community, eventually coming to believe that they should produce, of all things, a baby. A passing fairy decides to teach them a lesson and sassily saddles them with a useless miniature child who is as small as their minds. All the other elephants shun her, but a friendly mouse -- yeah, never mind. It's only Tuesday, huh?