Fat Fairies, Mash-Ups, and Advertisements: the Hypnotic Effect of TV Fairy Tales

On April 7-9, 2016, the FTTV Project Participants traveled from Provo, Utah to Berkeley, California to present their panel at the Western States Folklore Society Conference. Ariel Peterson was first up with her analysis of fairy godmothers that usually appear as fat fairies (whether in actual body type or symbolized by a round dress). Lauren Redding showed off her data about gender comparisons and inclusion of animal characters that she compiled from the FTTV Database. She was able to display many interesting […]

Concluding the Promotional Small-Screen Fairies Series

In his 1979 book, “Breaking the Magic Spell,” Jack Zipes shared the story of Priscilla Denby, a researcher who spent an entire day watching TV in 1969 logging all the traditional folklore and fairy tale items featured in shows and commercials. In 1969 Denby logged 101 themes in one day of television. In 2016 we live in a time described (sometime jokingly, other times seriously) as Peak TV. As more channels and online content providers attempt to stake out ground […]

Fairy Tales in the 2010’s Remix Culture

Harvard law professor Lawrence Lessig published a book in 2008 titled “Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy,” which hypothesized about the societal effect of the internet, specifically for the way in which it gave rise to the remix culture. Lessig recognized a trend in the rising popularity of derivative works that combine or edit together existing materials to produce something new. (One quick example is Pogo’s “Alice,” a song spliced together from sounds from Disney’s Alice […]

The Digital Age of the 2000s

In the new millennium the buzzwords of the first decade were globalization and technology. Across the globe the internet, computers, and cell phones were bringing people together and changing the way people lived their lives. A pair of studies at the start and the end of the decade showed a jump from 6% to 62% of Americans having in-home internet access. Cell phone popularity surged as well, fueled by advances in text messaging and mobile internet accessibility. In a very […]

The 1990s Corporate Takeover

In Marina Warner’s short history of the fairy tale book, Once Upon A Time, she posits that one of the primary functions of the fairy tale is the sharing of familiar stories with an audience. She goes on to explain “the stories’ interest isn’t exhausted by repetition, reformulation, or retelling, but their pleasure gains from the endless permutations performed on the nucleus of the tale, the DNA as it were.” While fairy tales have a long history of corporate usage, […]

Destination: Western States Folklore Conference

Western States Folklore Society is celebrating 75 years at their 2016 meeting! Three of the FTTV Project Participants are going to UC Berkley this April for the WSFS Conference to present the panel entitled “Fat Fairies, Mashups, and Advertisements: The Hypnotic Effect of TV Fairy Tales.” If you are in the area we would love to have you join us! Take a look at each of the abstracts below. The first paper is titled “Fat Fairies: Stereotype, Body Type, and Personality […]

Back to Basics in the 1980s

In 1984 Jack Zipes published “Folklore Research and Western Marxism: A Critical Replay” in which he summarized the research of several folk lore scholars and ran it through a Marxists lens. In that article he concluded that fairy tales in television and film “exploit folklore to evoke images of the attainment of happiness through consumption.” And while Zipes doesn’t specifically include television commercials in that article, the TV commercial is a perfect encapsulation and culmination of the exploitation of folk […]

The Many Pivots of the 1970s

The 1970s is a decade characterized by many historians as a “pivot of change” for America politically, economically, and socially. There are few places that better show this drastic change in U.S. values and societal attitudes than the television programing of the 70s. At the beginning of the decade once powerhouses like The Ed Sullivan Show (the show famous for introducing The Beatles to American audiences) and Gunsmoke were canceled, effectively ending the reign of the Western as a TV […]

The Artistic Revolution of the 1960s

In Donald Haase’s “The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Folktales and Fairy Tales: A-F” Wolfgang Mieder uses the tale of the Pied Piper of Hamelin to describe the practicality and efficiency of using folklore and fairy tale iconography in advertising. He likens the pied piper to a “symbol of the world of advertising” who would “play his pipe ever so sweetly and the consumers following him without resisting his charming and manipulative music.” While this is certainly true categorically of fairy tale-themed commercials, the […]

Introducing America to TV Commercials

On the first day of July in 1941 a few lucky New Yorkers with televisions tuned in to the WNBT station to see their Brooklyn Dodgers take on the visiting Phillies. The handful of baseball fans who got to their television sets early for this broadcast were about the experience history: they were about to see the first ever paid television advertisement. Instead of the usual test pattern clock that was displayed between programs, viewers saw a modified test pattern clock modeled […]