Thursday, December 16, 2004

Snow White and the Seven Blogs.

I heard on the radio this morning that a massive invasion of arctic air looms on the horizon, meteorologically speaking. Something about zero degrees F. by Sunday. What fun. What gas bills.

So I took another walk today, when the atmosphere registered a balmy 45 F or so near the shores of Lake Michigan. I didn’t make it to those shores, but I was on State Street, among the crowds in front of Marshall Field. That store’s display windows are one of those local holiday customs celebrated in local lore, and I can say that the store puts a lot of effort, and surely expense, into designing them. They tell a story in signs over the displays, which are always animated figures—the sort that move something like cuckoo-clock figures—who dwell in elaborate doll-house-like settings. If you start at the corner of State and Washington and then head south on State, finishing up at the corner of State and Madison, you can follow the story in sequence.

This year it was the story of Snow White. The designers were clearly trying to get away from the Disneyfied version of that tale, probably by drawing more on Grimm for the feeling and details. Small example: Snow White’s hosts are always referred to as “Little Men,” who specifically work in a “Diamond Mine.” To judge from a scattering of overheard comments, this bothers people for whom Disney is the only version.

Then again, there were some touches that I thought were bizarre. Literally true to her name, Snow White’s skin is the color of marshmallow, and her hair is pitch black. She also is made up like a tart. As for the Wicked Queen, she affects an icy flapper style. Now why would the Wicked Queen dress as if she were going to a party on William Randolph Hearst’s yacht, with half a mind to push her cheating lover over the side into the cold, cold California Current?


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