In his novel, Why Fairy Tales Stick, Jack Zipes claims that fairy tales are memes or units of knowledge that are culturally repeated and that these tales have coevolved with humans’ increasing ability to distinguish. He claims that fairy tales are polygenic natural artifacts, which means that they are a set of common concepts that emerged in different places. According to Zipes, fairy tales begin as shared human encounters and then undergo magical changes based on how cultural factors in their ecosystems alter. He goes on to equate literary fairy tales to a special biological species that has remained in the human imagination since they adapt in order to stay essential. Although he acknowledges that biological evolution exists only within a historical continuum, Zipes concedes that there is no evidence that fairy tales existed before 1500. He says that it is impossible to know how the literal fairy tale was formed and that no one can tell exactly when the fairy tale started its evolution. However, Zipes says that what is known for sure is a lack of evidence of another literary fairy tale existed in Europe before the medieval period (Zipes, 2). He explains the success of fairy tale by developing a theory of memes which states that memes are an informational pattern that is contained or stored in a human mind and it is capable of being transferred or can be copied in the mind of another person’s brain, and that will store and replicate it. Zipes explains that memes are passed along either through biological absorption to person’s mind, or they are transmitted into individual’s mind and are retained so that the person becomes disposed to replicate them (Zipes, 6).
Zipes uses The Frog Prince as an example of meme because of various reasons. Foremost, the story has been in existence for many years and continues to be a story that human beings retell and reshape to conform with the existing values (Bottigheimer, 367). When told to children, the story emphasizes the values of individuality, independence as well as finding one’s identity. On the other hand, the adult’s version, The Frog Prince focuses on the sexual selection aspect in which it acts as a guidance to the various methods of finding a spouse or a partner.
Disney’s The Princess and The Frog is a fairy tale that involves an argument for politics of identity, meritocracy as well as self-determination. It comes in a time when the American people are faced with challenges of the unstable economy, unemployment and where children have to stay for a long time in school in which standardization and the need for higher grades set the pace instruction. The fairy tale came in a period characterized by inequalities in all aspects including, race gender, social class, religion, and sexuality are persistent in the American society. The fairy tale has an African American princess to relate to the current issues affecting the society as far as race discrimination is concerned. The Disney’s fairy tale The Princess and The Frog are similar to The Frog Prince because it communicates the same message that the fairy tale communicated many years ago of self-identity, individuality in children version and selection of a partner in adult version (Bottigheimer, 369). Besides, The Princess and The Frog takes into account the current values that need to be upheld in the society.
Bottigheimer, Ruth B. “Why Fairy Tales Stick: The Evolution and Relevance of a Genre (review).” Journal of American Folklore 122.485 (2009): 367-370.
Zipes, Jack David. Why fairy tales stick: the evolution and relevance of a genre. Taylor & Francis, 2006.