A Look On The Lighter Side: Backstories the fairy tales never told you


The folks at Disney have just promised us a film about one of their most notorious villains.

“Cruella,” starring Emma Stone, will tell the story of a young woman in 1970s London, before she became the character we know and loathe from “101 Dalmatians” (whose villainous aim was to make a coat from the skins of 101 Dalmatian puppies). It will be her backstory — or, as fans of superheroes put it, her “origin story.”

The trailer is out now, but the film won’t be released until May.

Meanwhile, I’ve been hearing from other creatures — mainly villains — who want their backstories told, too.

“Can I help it if my genetic heritage makes me such a large guy?” asked the Giant, infamous for climbing down Jack’s Beanstalk. “Suppose you woke up one day chasing what you thought were ants in your kitchen—and fell down into a world where everybody thinks you’re the villain, just because they’re all so tiny? Whose fault is that, I ask you? Certainly not mine!”

“And what about me?” asked the Witch from Hansel and Gretel. “Just because I like to make candies called ‘Jelly Babies.’ They’re a candy…a CANDY, I tell you!” she said, with a sob in her voice.

She continued, “It’s the British name for them, I didn’t invent it. Ask that science fiction TV fellow — Doctor Who — he kept handing them out, so why is everyone so hard on me? It’s rampant sexism,” the Witch concluded.

I didn’t disagree, but just then my mouth was full of jelly babies — they’re like gummy bears, only stickier— so I couldn’t actually say anything at all.

“I’ve been misunderstood, too, you know,” came a little voice.

“Goldilocks? What’s your problem?” asked the Giant. “You break into people’s homes, eat everyone’s porridge, then you complain — and nobody so much as says ‘Boo’ to you! Imagine if I tried that!”

“Blonde girl privilege!” the fairy tale creatures shouted. “Go home!”

“Your OWN home,” the Bears clarified. Goldi pouted and walked away.

“Ahem,” said a cultured-sounding voice. “I’d like to put forward my case.” It was the Wolf.

He cleared his throat and continued, “An impartial survey of fairy tales reveals that I am cast as the villain more often than anyone else, with the possible exception of stepmothers. And what have I done to deserve such infamy, I’d like to know? Nothing!”

“You ate my grandma,” said Little Red Riding Hood.

“A misunderstanding,” said the Wolf.

“And killed both my brothers,” said the Third Little Pig.

“I do apologize for that,” said the Wolf. “Those were accidents, and I invite you to communicate with my lawyers for suitable compensation.” He handed the Pig a business card.

The Pig took the card, then squinted at it. “Wolf, Wolf & Fox, Attorneys at the Buffet Bar? Thanks, but I’ll pass.”

“As you wish,” said the Wolf, bowing low.

“Never mind about him!” said a very cross feminine voice. It was Mrs. Wolf, joining the crowd. “He gallivants all over Fairy Tale Land — eating people’s grandmothers, blowing down houses — meanwhile, who’s stuck at home, raising the pups with no help? Me, that’s who!”

“Um, sweetheart, I was just on my way to the store,” said Mr. Wolf.

“Stow it,” said his irate wife. “Or tell it to those Grimm Brothers you’re always yarning with. Meanwhile,” she turns to me, “there’s nothing to eat, at home, because in spite of killing neighbors left and right, he forgets to bring home any actual bacon! If you ask me, I’m the real unsung heroine of all his stories, just keeping us alive.”

Again I couldn’t argue with her — those jelly babies can really get stuck in your teeth.

“Excuse me, please, but where can I report a robbery?” said a little voice near my knee.

I bent down and found myself facing a Gingerbread Man. He smelled delicious. “You can tell me about the crime. What was taken?”

“Um, my house! I’m not sure if it’s a robbery or a home invasion or what since what happened was that somebody grabbed and ate my entire house!”

“Mmmm,” said the Wolf, sniffing the air. “Made of gingerbread, I assume?”

“Yes, and it had just come from the oven—as have I!”

“We’d better run, Mr. Gingerbread Man,” I whispered. “I can’t vouch for your safety with this crowd!”

I picked him up and put him in my pocket while I ran away. And nobody’s seen him from that day to this!


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