GDT On Fairy Tales, Part 2

From The Evening Class Blog Q & A:

I love monsters and I think fantasy is the last refuge of spirituality in this time because we have essentially [gone] through the ’50s and ’60s and ’70s, and all the iconoclastic taking down of rightfully—disgusting institutions; but, anything that was erected after that essentially was or has become as hollow as those institutions. So we took down all the crap and we erected new crap. [Laughter.] We erected every boring, materialistic sort-of-reality t.v. shit to drive us on. I believe that in this age one of the few moments where I can feel like a child and can feel spiritually uplifted is through fantasy. I really believe in monsters in the way that a Baptist would receive Jesus. …Monsters were invented by primitive man to explain—first of all—nature. Then as they became socially more complex they started inventing monsters to talk about the things that scared them about themselves and eventually it’s psychological. Monsters have a direct tap into spirituality and consciousness. I feel that I have an intimate, almost religious, contact with fantasy creatures.”

“The origin of the fairy tale,” Del Toro answered, “is an oral tradition. Normally what would happen is cobblers and tailors traveling from town to town would stay at homes and charge a warm bed and a meal and then the whole family would sit around the cobbler or the tailor and they would tell a story, many times about a cobbler and a tailor in a fairy tale. That’s why they figure so prominently in fairy tales. They had to entertain the whole family, children and adults, so they talked about contexts that felt alive and contemporary at that time. They talked about famine. They talked about war, pestilence, and they peppered [the stories] with incredibly brutal moments either to entertain the adults or to scare the children shitless [laughter] and into behaving. So there [are] two kinds of fantastic tales: one is extremely repressive, pro-establishment, and tells the children don’t go out at night, obey your parents, don’t be ambitious, and this kind of thing; and then there is the other one, which is absolutely insane and brutal. But all of them were peppered with really dark, incredibly almost Freudian, elements. I felt that they had been [whitewashed] and sweetened and taken beyond recognition into being Disneyfied, if you would. I wanted to recuperate the brutality because I believe that without a context of horror then the magic is meaningless. If all you’re going to have is little elves singing happily all the fucking time. The fact is my fantasy has always been absolutely non-liberating. It has helped me deal with the real world but I never imagined myself singing to little bluebirds or chipmunks or stuff like that. The way I see fantasy is not a way to escape reality but to articulate reality. To use those elements to learn your way around the world and I believe that fantasy is a way to create parable, to talk about big truths but in a way not married to outcome, or married to a political outcome, an immediate outcome. Darkness is necessary in those cases to bring forth … this movie, if it worked with you—because a movie, I keep saying, is like a blind date, y’know?—if it worked with you, if it tickled you in the right places, then the movie hopefully transported you to a vulnerable place where you can be a kid again. Now we, as adults, in order to be shocked by the horror like a kid and experience the wonderful like a kid, I have to push your buttons and they’re hidden under layers and layers of social fat. I have to push really hard like deep tissue massage.”

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