Once Upon a Time...so begins a story you know will have a happy ending...or will it. Fairy tales are stories that have been passed down from generation to generation. These stories were meant to teach a moral or specific value to the listeners. (It is interesting to note that all cultures and languages share the same basic stories.) The stories had heroes who fought against evil and villians who tried to stop the heroes. They were powerful stories that helped shape many generations and most did not have happy endings.
So why have our modern fairy tales changed? We still have heroes and villians, but now all the hereos live happily ever after. Don't get me wrong, I love it when Cinderella marries Prince Charming, but have we lost something in changing these stories? The Little Mermaid is a great example. In the original version, the little mermaid dies. She sacrifices herself to save her sisters. It is an amazing and powerful story that is symbolic on many different levels; much different from the cute Disney version most of us are familiar with.
The original fairy tales made the readers/listeners think. Our modern stories are meant for entertainment only; for amusement (see my post for what that really means.) that leaves us "feeling" good, but not deeply moved. Perhaps these stories have changed, because our world has changed. We are constantly bombarded with bad news. Perhaps we need these "happy ever afters" to escape from the evil all around us. Perhaps..., but I hope that as a society we retain the original versions of these wonderful stories too, because sometimes we also need to think.