Classic fairytales with disturbing messages

Classic fairytales with disturbing messages | BBBH
8 min read

From an age when society swung between virtuous to decadent depending on the rulers, it’s no wonder so many children had stories with questionable messages read to them by parents who were perpetually buzzing on brandy wine and snuff.

Jack & The Beanstalk

To break this one down to its core, we see a kid handed responsibility to save his family from starvation. Given unbelievably simple instructions to remedy the situation; Take cow. Sell cow for currency. Return home. Family won’t perish, we still see this impetuous youth disastrously fuck it up and put them all at risk of dying a painful death.
He lucks out in an unprecedented way when a Beanstalk grows to mammoth proportions without sunlight, so I have to wonder how bad were these farmers if their soil is this fertile?!
Jack scales this terrifying devil plant for an as yet undermined reason and it happens to provide him with access to someone else’s property. So he breaks & enters, commits blatant larceny by stealing the hard earned money of the person residing inside and attempts to abscond. This little felon rightfully gets threatened with bodily harm for invading another’s home and as the assailant flees, the victim gives chase to retrieve his unique and valuable goods only for the young thief to murder him in cold blood and be celebrated for it.
Well done, Jack. Crime can be justified and it certainly pays well.


Hansel & Gretel

Is this saying that if kids are too difficult to provide for you can just send them into the forest to face the evils of the time? It’s definitely a lot cheaper than Day Care.
Now, I’m of two minds here. On one hand it sells the necessary, era-relevant message of the world genuinely not caring about you and preparing kids to deal with a horrible life on their own (a solid warning when your parents could die of a shitting disease at 30). However a youthful perception views it as children that become overly cumbersome can be tossed in the woods to become a diabetic crone’s problem.
After a sociopathic step mother and a spineless father decide they’d rather save themselves over the kids – The two siblings are forced to wander alone until they find the most ill-conceived house since a pig used straw. Made from sugar, it’s less child attracting and more of an ant haven.
The good samaritan elderly homeowner takes the lost and frightened babes in to her baked goods house to feed and dress them, but being old and female she is inevitably a witch, so she imprisons them and forces cleaning of the house. I assume, of ants.
Hans & Gret get their shit together and instigate an uprising that sees their captor crisped up in an oven.
This messaging seems to comes full circle and promotes the need to wreak fiery havoc on anyone who tries to rob you of your liberty.
Seems I’m back where I started.


Elves & the Shoemaker

Fairly simplistic tale. A shoemaker is broke because he’s too charitable and because he doesn’t understand commerce, is about to lose everything.
Elves turn up during the night to create top level kicks, (imagine Air Jordan’s of the 19th century) which he sells for top dollar.
At this point I’d assume I’d done a Tyler Durden while drunk, before I gave credit to magical sprites, but his suspension of disbelief is on par with Flat Earthers.
Eventually the elves make enough shoes to pay off all of his debts and the shoemaker gives them clothes as thanks. The elves suddenly GTFO leaving him with no workforce and have failed to upskill him.
Without a viable business strategy, he’s set to be back in the red within months.
I guess the story suggests the benefits of slavery.



Because her Dad got into a dick measuring contest, a young girl, who had no clue what was going on, found herself in a king’s dungeon and told to spin straw into gold or die…that escalated quickly.
With all seeming dire, she was provided some mystical bailout via an imp with ill-defined powers who demanded fair payment for his insane seamstress services. In a market of Supply and Demand, his prices logically increased to which they were agreed and later reneged upon (granted it was the taking of her royal child, so everyone has a leg to stand on here).
With great benevolence he provided the girl a way out of her responsibilities, should she guess his name. As the incumbent bride of the king, she sent one of her servants on a recon, and Ol’ Rupmles was spotted prematurely celebrating the win and singing a song in which he named himself.
With a plot device equal to that of Martha in Dawn of Justice, she dodged her obligation and gave him nothing.
This shows that deals mean jack shit if you’re rich and you’re a dickhead if you ever refer to yourself in the third person.


Goldilocks & The Three Bears

Following suit from Jack and his Giant victim, it sounds like Ye Olde Europe was awash with Breaking and Entering. An idyllic nuclear family of bears were the innocent parties in a story of one girl’s sense of entitlement. A beautiful sunny day sees a loving family set for a nice breakfast to start the day.
The Mother, Father and little toddler take their morning constitutional to let their food cool only return home and find their sanctuary ransacked with their precious food tainted. An investigation of the house finds a random stranger sleeping in their child’s bed. Now if I had giant claws and found a crazy in my kids room, I’d unleash roaring chaos too. But little Goldilocks bails out the window and disappears to probably ruin another woodland creature’s day. Worst of all, there seems to be no legal ramifications and it goes to prove that pretty girls get away with everything.

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The Pied Piper of Hamelin

If Rumpelstiltskin demonstrates the frivolity of contract laws, The Pied Piper rams home the consequences on welching on an agreement. Don’t fuck with a man and his magic pipe.
After being stiffed on the bill for a town-wide rat extermination job, he theatrically vows undetermined revenge and disappears. When he returns to find all the kids parentless due to convenience. Dropping some sick pipe tunes, the vacant-eyed kids follow him like he’s Calvin Harris at Burning Man and end up drowned in a river.
A fairly extreme result when all of this could have been avoided with some Stranger Danger education and the establishment of a small claims tribunal.


Little Red Riding Hood

Sending your small underage daughter into a medieval forest to run your errands because you can’t be arsed, leads me to think this is a warning to parents more than children.
In a tale that sees this wee child forced to visit and feed her elderly grandmother who has been ostracised into a hidden woods, Little Red is hunted by a anthropomorphic wolf that goes into a hugely unnecessary level of pageantry to eat her. Instead of getting her at any stage during her lone walk when he first spotted her and extracts her destination during an innocent chat. After devouring the grandmother, he sits in wait until Red turns up to hit her with some first class improv before devouring her too. Only recent versions have an end where a woodsman slices open the wolf to save them.
So many messages to be gleaned from this! Is it the eternal struggle to recapture the sanctity of youth? The need for better aged care?
I understand its to show you should never trust anybody, at any time, for any reason. Welcome to the real world, Red.


The Little Mermaid

Ooh, did Disney sanitise the living shit out of this one! Majority of the plot points hit the same marks, but the ending takes a severe right turn.
Mermaid wants to see the human world. Mermaid spots a prince that she’s immediately enamoured with. Prince almost drowns. Mermaid saves him. Mermaid sees witch to give up her mermaidiness in order to get some legs in exchange for her voice. And here’s where that Danish darkness sets in.
Witch says she won’t live as long, but will gain a soul. (Apparently mermaids are empty moral vessels) and the legs will forever cause near debilitating pain, but the mute girl endlessly dances to attract him (I assume it was not unlike Christina Aguilera in Dirty).
The prince is all heart eyes for this body-rolling beauty, then suddenly marries someone else. Left fairly confused and sitting at the high end of the emotional scale, she’s provided a dagger by her water bound sisters and initially contemplates killing the Prince and his new wife, but instead opts to kill herself. Granted she does gain a human soul so she can ascend to heaven.
I’ll probably back Disney on taking the initiative to shift that ending.
Women, you need to understand that men probably won’t notice any of your sacrifices unless you blatantly beat them over the head with it and try to avoid murder.


Ugly Duckling

A duck is hatched and instantly recognised for the minga it is. Likely not to have any baby photo shoots. It’s family that is supposed to provide unconditional love, mocks and sends it away. Then they get killed (instant karma, bitches). A farmer takes the struggling bird into his home, but his kids are too rambunctious so it bails, potentially indicating undiagnosed anxiety. This childlike bird is left to eek out an existence in a European winter and is forced to seclude itself in a cave for months.
When it finally decides that life is no longer worth living, it launches itself at a pack of swans anticipating they’ll feel threatened and kill it – in some precursor to suicide-by-cop. The Ugly Duckling is surprised by the unwavering acceptance and suddenly notices that it’s grown into a gorgeous swan.
So it goes to prove that if you have PTSD at seeing the murder of your family, anxiety, suicidal tendencies, no social skills, no confidence and body dysmorphia.. you’ll be fine if you end up hot.
*also, that Mamma Duck definitely got some swan dick she’s not telling her husband about.


Beauty & The Beast

Skipping the original version that was littered with a ridiculous amount of characters and had the Beast and Belle revealed as cousins so they could marry, we’ll work from the abridged version that edited out the incest.
Once again we have a father who uses his daughter as a bargaining chip to escape a citizen’s arrest by a Beast, who is severely overreacting to one of his roses getting plucked, especially after he had just provided this guy a massive banquet and new suit… his house rules are incredibly arbitrary!
Instead of tearing up the Father, he demands to have any of the man’s daughters delivered to the castle in his stead. And, Yep. Dad’s on board.
So the stoic Belle rocks up and kicks around the palace for a few months while a giant hairy hermit constantly tries to slide into her DMs. When she returns home to visit her pretty shitty family, she realises her love for the Beast and races to him, AGAIN finding him in the throes of extreme drama, claiming to be dying without her.
Her kiss breaks a curse and he turns into his sexy-ass true form.
While you’d think this little yarn is to prove that you shouldn’t love someone based on looks, it was in fact to warn child brides that their arranged 40 year old husbands probably aren’t that bad once you give them a chance.
I mean, it’s a good message for the time, but eeesh!

Written by Cam Mann

Cam has been attempting to write anything anyone would want to read for a few years now. Trying his hand at small film scripts and sports articles, but once his son, Billy, was born he found his niche writing about the ridiculousness of Fatherhood. As he watches his kid enter each Developmental Leap (and Developmental Face Plant) he will look to avoid the ever-present terror we all know and wring out inappropriate laughs wherever he can.


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