Gender and Fairy Tales

Detectives and bail bonds "persons" as fairy tale hero/ines: A feminist antimilitarist analysis of Grimm and Once Upon a Time

Nancy Taber, Brock University, Canada

1In 2011, two television programs based on fairy tales premiered: Grimm and Once Upon a Time. These programs continue the long-standing tradition of building on, expanding from, and altering "original" tellings of fairy tales resulting in complex performances of genre, context, plot, and characters (Zipes, Fairy Tale, Sticks and Stones). The ways in which gender is taken up in these programs is similarly complex, with characterizations both mirroring and challenging representations common in fairy tales (Bacchilega; Haase; Harries; Parsons). Although both based in fairy tale lore, these programs at first appear strikingly different; as the Fall 2011 line-up was introduced and two competing programs introduced, I was immediately intrigued with how gender would be performed. These programs are not the only ones based on fairy tales (for instance, Beauty and the Beast began airing in Fall 2012), but they are distinct in that they draw on a multitude of fairy tales for their content, not just one. For instance, Grimm has explored tales and characters such as the big bad wolf and Little Red Riding Hood, the three bears and Goldilocks, Rapunzel, the Pied Piper, ogres, dragons, and step-mothers, while Once Upon a Time (hereafter referred to as Once) has done the same with Snow White, the Seven Dwarfs, Little Red Riding Hood (who is also the big bad wolf), Rumplestiltskin, Beauty and the Beast (the latter of whom is also Rumplestiltskin), Hansel and Gretel, the Evil Queen, Prince Charming, Jiminy Cricket, and Pinocchio. In the second season, characters such as Mulan and Captain Hook are also being introduced. Grimm focuses on more traditional Grimm stories while Once focuses on tales made popular by Disney (indeed, its publication company, ABC studios, is a division of Disney-ABC Television Group). Each of these programs makes the tales their own, mixing and changing characters and elements as required. Both programs also represent mothers as absent or evil. However, Grimm is firmly ensconced in the horror genre (rated 14+ in Canada), and Once in that of family (rated PG).

2In this article, I discuss the ways in which gender is performed in Grimm and Once, as modern fairy tales, through my theoretical framework of antimilitarist feminism. I argue that gender, violence, and militarism are represented in complex ways (Enloe, Maneuvers, Curious feminist, Globalization) that variously position ideas of good and evil (Butler, Precarious Life), protected and protector (Young), masculinity and femininity (Butler, Gender Trouble; Connell). I explore how each program re/writes gendered scripts which interconnect with each other and with societal performances of masculinities and femininities through the programs' characterizations of heroic hunters and saviors, who are also estranged mothers and sons.

Grimm and Once

3As a basic introduction to the stories, the programs' websites are the best explanation, as they also demonstrate how the network intends they be viewed. For instance, Grimm "is a drama series inspired by the classic Grimm Brothers' Fairy Tales" (NBC Universal Media, LLC para.1). The male protagonist, Nick Burkhardt, is a homicide detective in Portland, Oregon, who "discovers he's descended from an elite line of criminal profilers" (para. 1). In this program, the Grimms search out and destroy all "wesen" (German word for "creatures," pronounced vessen) who represent "all manner of ancient evils" (para. 3) except for two "reformed Grimm creatures" (para. 3), Monroe and Rosalee. In his work, Nick "attempts to shield his new fiancee, Juliette...and his partner, Hank...from the hazards of his new life" (para. 2). As such, despite a few exceptions, the program's description is presented as supporting a contrast of good (Grimms) and evil (creatures) as well as protector (Grimm, a white man) and protected (Juliette, a white woman; Hank, a black man; innocent civilians). Part of the storyline revolves around Nick's parents' death in a car crash, as it is revealed that, not only were they actually murder victims, but his mother is secretly alive.

4Once's description is titled, "It's Not Always Happily Ever After," wherein "fairy tales and the modern-day are about to collide" (Bell Media, para. 1). The story revolves around female protagonist Emma Swan, a bail bonds collector who was orphaned as a baby. "When the son [Henry] she gave up years ago finds her" (para.2), Emma is introduced to "an alternate world" where she "is Snow White and Prince Charming's missing daughter" (para. 3). She had been "sent... away to protect her from the Evil Queen's curse, which trapped the fairytale world forever, frozen in time, and brought them into our modern world" (para. 3) via a town called Storybrooke, Maine. As the series opens, the characters in Storybrooke have lost their memories due to the curse, forgetting who they were and who they loved in the fairytale world. The Evil Queen is the mayor of the town (as well as Henry's adoptive mother) while Rumplestiltskin (Mr. Gold) owns the town. Show White and Prince Charming are separated, and Emma is viewed as a saviour for their true love and the town itself. "The epic battle for the future of all worlds is beginning, but for good to win, Emma will have to accept her destiny and fight like hell" (para. 5). Good and evil are positioned as opposites, but are also made complex as viewers learn the backstories of villainized characters such as the Evil Queen and Rumplestiltskin as well as victimized ones such as Little Red Riding Hood.

Re/writing Gendered Scripts

5As protagonists, both Nick and Emma are employed to search out criminals. As such, they are on the side of the good guys, although Nick's position as a detective is more institutionalized and a greater part of the plot than Emma's as a bail bonds collector. (Emma later becomes the Sherriff of Storybrooke.) Additionally, Nick is characterized as a "hunter" of wesen while Emma is the "saviour" of fairytale land. They are the hero/ines who work to protect others from danger, creatures, and curses. These representations lend themselves well to a feminist antimilitarist analysis, which focuses on the ways in which militaristic ideals are embedded in societal notions of gender.

Militarization is a step-by-step process by which a person or a thing gradually comes to be controlled by the military or comes to depend for its well-being on militaristic ideas. The more militarization transforms an individual or a society, the more that individual or society comes to imagine military needs and militaristic presumptions to be not only valuable but also normal. Militarization, that is, involves cultural as well as institutional, ideological, and economic transformation. (Enloe, Maneuvers 3, italics in original)

Militarism values conflict and violence as well as binaries of good versus evil and masculinity in opposition to femininity. It is interconnected with gender, giving preference to forms of masculinity and femininity that emphasize difference and deficiency. Men and women are divergently situated as strong protectors and weak victims respectively (Messner; Young), disregarding the ways in which their actual lives may challenge these constructed positions.

Detectives and bail bonds "persons" as fairy tale hero/ines: A feminist antimilitarist analysis of Grimm and Once Upon a Time

6In much of her work, Enloe discusses how various popular culture artefacts are militarized, such as soup (with pasta the shape of Star Wars satellites), action figures (i.e., GI Joe and GI Jane), bikinis (named after the Bikini Atoll where nuclear testing was conducted), and clothing (with camouflage patterns and military styles). Others have focused on militarism in movies, with authors such as Cohn and Weber discussing the purging of the feminine, compartmentalization of feelings, favouring of hegemonic masculinity, and heroizing of war. With respect to fairy tales, using the Grimm brothers' version of Little Red Riding Hood, Marshall discusses how there is a "history invested in disciplining young readers into normative heterosexual femininity and masculinity....Little Red emerges from the wolf's stomach only after she learns that curiosity and independence are dangerous traits for a young girl to possess" (261). Taber also explores how Mulan, an Americanized and "'Disneyfied'" (Dong 227) fairy tale character, is represented as a strong woman who fights with the military but is nonetheless essentialized as feminine and connected to domesticity. Mulan's story links to the experiences of real life military women, who succeeded in the military yet were constrained by their female bodies (Taber). As Mulan demonstrates and Baker-Sperry and Grauerholz argue, the fairy tales that seem to thrive and persist are those that are aligned with societal ideals of masculinity and femininity, linking to Connell as well as Connell and Messerschmidt's argument that the norms of hegemonic masculinity and emphasized femininity are often preferred over marginalized masculinities and other forms of femininity.

7Grimm is a prime example of a story that privileges masculinity. It is male-centred as most of the main characters are male in masculine positions as police officers, creatures, or villains, with supporting characters as women in need of protection, most notably as represented by Juliette (who is frequently attacked and kidnapped, but does fight back to some extent). Interestingly, the creatures are alternatively represented as completely masculine and villainous, such as Kimura (a Siegbarste ogre creature), as well as somewhat feminized and dangerous such as Blutbad (bloodbath wolf) postal carrier murderers who do needlepoint, "not that I tell everyone," (Postman, Grimm, P). [1] Due to the large amount of data from which this article derives (22 episodes of approximately 45 minutes each for each program), as well as the complexity of the plots, the quotations in this article are limited to the pilot and season finale of each program's Season 1. These episodes are rich in detail pertinent to my argument, serving as examplars, as they set- and wrap-up the story lines, with particular focus on protection, family, and the battle between good and evil. Each quotation is identified by character name, program name, and P for pilot or SF for season finale. For ease of understanding, where there are two character names in <i>Once</i> (one for fairytale land and one for Storybrooke), I use the former. or obsequious Eisbiber beavers who are no threat to Nick and need his help and protection. Most of the creatures are positioned as either evil or in unflattering ways, except for Monroe (see discussion below on good and evil), a complex creature who becomes Nick's unofficial partner. The main female characters are in feminine positions as a girlfriend needing protection from danger (which includes the dangerous knowledge of the wesen world), a wesen apothecary, and a witch.

8Two exceptions to this are Nick's aunt, who is sick and dying (but still talks tough and puts up a fight when attacked) and his mother, who abandoned Nick as a child. She is a formidable warrior, someone who is described by Sgt. Wu, unaware of who she is, as "a woman not to be messed with" (Grimm, SF). However, before she proves herself, she is underestimated, with Wu and another officer, who have tracked down a violent criminal, politely asking, "ma'am, stop now" and "hold up" (Grimm, SF). While there are, therefore, various representations of masculinity and femininity in male and female bodies, masculinity is still privileged and respected, with even big bad wolves feeling the need to hide traditional feminine behaviours, such as doing needlepoint. Furthermore, when Hank meets the Blutbad kidnapper and killer, he immediately judges him as incapable of violence, based on his feminized dress, speech, and mannerisms, stating, "are you kidding me?" (Grimm, P).

9Once could be considered as female-centred, as most of the main characters are women, yet it too favours hegemonic masculinity, although this time in emphasized feminine bodies. Emma is an independent "loner" (Emma, Once, P) who is introduced to viewers in a slinky dress and high heels; the "sexiest friendless orphan that I have ever met" (Ryan, Once, P). In order to apprehend a wanted man, Ryan, she arranges a blind date with him, flirting until she informs him that she is bringing him in and chastizing him for betraying his wife. Emma calls him on his behaviour, stating he is a "handsome, charming...embezzle[r]... [who] got arrested and skipped town." However, for Emma, "the worst part of all of this is your wife. Your wife loves you so do you repay that loyalty? You're on a date" (Emma, Once, P). When Ryan calls her a bail bondsman, she corrects him, stating that she is a "bail bonds person." He then tries to flee, with Emma calmly following him out, literally stopping traffic with her appearance as she walks across a busy road. He fails to drive away because Emma's had his wheels locked, and then knocks him out on the steering wheel. So, although Emma is a tough woman in a masculine job who can take care of herself, her femininity is emphasized, as is her attractiveness.

10In other examples, Snow White is variously positioned as femininely weak and masculinely capable, but generally good (although she is vilified by Storybrooke as an adulteress), whereas the Evil Queen is strong and evil. Of the two main male characters, one is good and handsome, Prince Charming, and the other is evil and ugly, Rumplestiltskin. Both can fight and take care of themselves, and both are entwined in their (often troubled) relationships with women, Snow White and Belle respectively. Contrasts of masculinity and femininity are present in these representations of good and evil, often connecting beauty and passivity to goodness (Baker-Sperry and Grauerholz), whereas:

strong women appear in patriarchal tales, but if they are powerful, they are also physically ugly and evil.... to identify with a strong female means, implicitly, identifying with someone who is ugly and evil. To identify with an active character who is also “good,” one has to identify with a male. (Trousdale and McMillan, 23)

Detectives and bail bonds "persons" as fairy tale hero/ines: A feminist antimilitarist analysis of Grimm and Once Upon a Time — Page 3

11However, in fairytale land, Snow White is often portrayed as strong, capable, and beautiful, but she also is so heartbroken that she cannot be with Charming that she takes a potion to forget him. Later, after remembering him, she bites an apple from the queen in order to take her own life and save Charming's. She is then saved by her prince, with a kiss that awakens her. Viewers learn about the characters' backstories in flashbacks, but the series opens with the image of Charming racing through the forest, kissing Snow with the statement that "I will always find you" (Charming, Once, P) with the next scene moving to their wedding. As such, the program is set-up from the beginning to reflect traditional ideas of masculinity and femininity, with a man saving a woman, and then marrying her. As Butler argues, "the institution of a compulsory and naturalized heterosexuality requires and regulates gender as a binary relation in which the masculine term is differentiated from a feminine term, and this differentiation is accomplished through the practices of heterosexual desire" (31). In an interesting twist, in Storybrooke, it is Charming who is in a coma, but Snow, instead of saving him as he did her, watches helplessly. He awakens not with true love's kiss, but as a result of Emma's effect on the town. When he awakens, he has amnesia, and is married to someone other than Snow. The season continues with he and Snow being drawn to one another and having an affair, a love triangle common in popular culture novels and films (i.e., see Petersen's discussion of feminism/postfeminism in Twilight and Woloshyn, Taber, and Lane's discussion of gender in The Hunger Games), with Snow and his wife in conflict over Charming. Eventually, when the curse is lifted, Snow and Charming rejoin as a couple.

12Despite these intricacies in plot and character, overall the programs demonstrate the pervasiveness of a "belief in character dichotomy" wherein "women are supposed to have one set of traits, men another. Women are supposed to be nurturant, suggestible, talkative, emotional, intuitive and sexually loyal; men are supposed to be aggressive, tough-minded, taciturn, rational, analytic and promiscuous" (Connell, 60). This character dichotomy permeates everyday experiences in real life and popular culture, despite the fact that "the modern liberal state defines men and women as citizens, that is, as alike. But the dominant sexual code defines men and women as opposites" (Connell, 75). The binary ignores the performance of a plurality of masculinities and femininities, working instead to triangulate sex, gender, and desire in a matrix matching biological identification, gender performance, and attraction (Butler, Gender Trouble).

13Compulsory heterosexuality is similarly present in Grimm, through Nick's relationship with Juliette (he is about to propose in the pilot, with Hank stating that Nick is "a happily ever after guy"), Hank's with Adalind (who turns out to be a witch), and Monroe's with Rosalee. Indeed, it is forefronted in the first scene of the pilot when Nick and Hank are introduced, as they watch three women across the street, commenting that one of them "wears Armani, makes low six figures, drives a BMW and is falling for a senior partner at her law firm" (Nick, Grimm, P). Hank then asks, "why can't you just look at her ass" (Grimm, P). The woman turns into a wesen. These first scenes set women up as, for the most part, objects of desire, evil creatures, or in need of protection (the case they are called to while watching these women is a murder of a young female college student, with a little girl later being kidnapped and rescued).

Narcissistic Nature of Courtly Love

14Nick's role as a protector due to his roles as detective and creature hunter therefore apply not only to Juliette in particular, but to all civilians in general. As his Aunt Marie states when she tells him of their family's history in relation to fairy tales, "we have the ability to see what no one else can" (Grimm, P), impelling Nick to use his ability in order to mitigate his own vulnerability and protect others. Nick is "one of the last Grimms. I wish I had more time.... You're vulnerable now, you need to be careful" (Marie, Grimm, P). Marie also wants Nick to "end it" with Juliette and "never see her again" (Grimm, P) because his work as a Grimm is "just too dangerous" (Marie, Grimm, P), putting those close to them in peril. At the end of the pilot, Nick is by Marie's bedside. "There is so much I don't understand...I love Juliette. I don't want anything to happen to her.... Whatever it is I'm supposed to do, I'll do it" (Nick, Grimm, P).

15When viewers are introduced to Nick's mother in the season finale, it puts forth the idea that perhaps she left in order to protect him, similar to how Marie is urging Nick to leave Juliette. Nonetheless, Nick stays with Juliette, hiding his secret from her which Juliette interprets as his pulling away. It is only when Juliette is scratched by a witch's cat that Hank finally tells her about the wesen in order for her to take the scratch seriously. Nick argues that, "you don't don't know her [Adalind] like I do....we need to get you to a doctor right now...your life could be in danger" (Grimm, SF). Juliette responds, "That's ridiculous....I'm tired of this....what is it that you're not telling me?" (Grimm, SF). When Nick does tell her, Juliette yells at him to "stop, okay, you're really scaring me!" (Grimm, SF). Juliette faints soon after, falling into a coma where she is awakened by a kiss from a "prince" in the second season, creating a bond between them that neither can resist, in yet another example of compulsory heterosexuality and woman as passive victim saved by a man.

Detectives and bail bonds "persons" as fairy tale hero/ines: A feminist antimilitarist analysis of Grimm and Once Upon a Time

16This "logic of masculinist protection" (Young, 2) results in "the subordinate relation of those in the protected position" (4), whether male or female, with the protected being thankful for security, willing to give up democratic rights and voice in exchange for protection from outside enemies and "bad citizen[s]" (15) or, in this case, wesen. "Chivalrous forms of masculinism" (Young, 19) prevail; while, in politics and popular culture, men may be represented as caring, "with situationally appropriate moments of compassion and, sometimes, vulnerability" (Messner, 466), "toughness, decisiveness, and hardness are still central" (466). As Enloe argues, "militarization may privilege masculinity, but it does so by manipulating the meanings of both femininity and masculinity" (Maneuvres 289, italics added).

17Emma is also introduced to fairy tales by a family member, in this case her 10-year-old son. Henry, who she had given up for adoption, searches her out to tell her that she is the "saviour" (Henry, Once, P) of Storybrooke and fairytale land. Once in Storybrooke, she eventually takes on roles as the Deputy Sheriff and then Sheriff, formalizing her protector role and facilitating her investigations in the town. She resists the idea of her being a saviour, finally fulfilling her destiny when Henry is in a coma due to accidentally ingesting a sleeping potion created by the Evil Queen. Nonetheless, Emma still feels inadequate to the task, going to Pinocchio for help, telling him "I gotta save Henry..need your help. ...I can't do normal person can" (Once, SF). Pinocchio, who is turning back into a wooden man, responds, "Luckily for us, you're not normal. You can save Henry, you can save all of" us (Once, SF). When Emma does save Henry after defeating a dragon, she is positioned not so much as a warrior but as a mother, whose love wakes him up. Crying over his body, she tells him, "I love you Henry" (Once, SF) and kisses him. Henry wakes up, telling her, "I love you too. You saved me" (Once, SF).

18Over the course of the season, Emma changes from a woman who is a stranger to her child, calling him "kid" and even, somewhat affectionately and ironically, "sneaky bastard" (Once, P), to his saviour. It is her love as a biological mother who is good, not the Evil Queen's love as an adoptive mother, that is viewed as "true," just as Snow White and Charming's love is characterized as the "most powerful magic in the world, the only magic powerful enough to break any curse" (Rumplestiltskin, Once, SF), further reinforcing compulsory heterosexuality and a contrast of good versus evil. In fact, Emma and the queen's positions as Henry's mothers situate them as enemies, with the good and true biological mother against the evil adoptive one. The queen states that "you may have given birth to him, but he is my son"(Once, P), warning Emma to leave town or "I will destroy you if it's the last thing I do" (Once, P). The queen attempts to poison Emma in order to keep Henry for herself: "as long as you're alive, Henry will never be mine" (Evil Queen, Once, SF).

19The fight of good against evil is a main theme in both programs. When Nick kills someone for the first time while protecting his Aunt Marie, he was told "this was a bad guy" (Hank, Grimm, P) and "if you had to shoot somebody, you sure picked the right guy" (Captain Renard, Grimm, P). With a few exceptions, creatures are viewed as evil and Grimms as good. Monroe is the most complex character with respect to where he fits in a binary of good against evil, which perhaps calls the binary itself into question, creating more of a continuum. As the season progresses, Monroe shifts from being good yet not dependably so, to becoming Nick's trusted friend. When he first meets Nick, he states, "I don't want any more trouble, okay. I'm not that kind of Blutbad. I don't kill anymore" (Monroe, Grimm, P). He continues, "I am not that big and I am done with the bad...a reformed Blutbad"; presupposing that all Blutbad's are inherently bad. While Monroe is reformed and therefore, at the moment, good, he explains that "bad things happen when we [Blutbadden] get into a pack, especially when we see red" (Grimm, P). When later helping Nick rescue a kidnapped girl from another Blutbad, Monroe states that he "can't guarantee what'll happen if I go any closer. It's too dangerous. I might be on your side, I might be on his side, I might even go after the girl. I'm sorry. There's nothing more I can do, I'm outta here" (Grimm, P). He is also characterized as masculine in the pilot, peeing on a fence to mark his territory, crashing through a window to attack Nick, and then laughing, "Lighten up. I'm just making a point. C'mon, let's grab a brew. And by the way, you're paying for that window" (Monroe, Grimm, P).

20With respect to Once, evil is also constantly contrasted with good, although viewers learn of the backstories of evil characters such as the Evil Queen and Rumplestiltskin, helping to create understandings of them. However, similar to the ways in which other modern fairy tale characters have been given histories (such as the Wicked Witch of the West, see Kruse and Prettyman), they are still generally positioned as evil characters doing evil things. The Evil Queen is characterized as "nothing more than an evil witch" (Snow White, Once, P) who "poisoned an apple because she thought I was prettier than her" (Snow White, Once P) which, it turns out, is not really the story, as the queen was seeking revenge for Snow White's unwitting role in the death of her lover. As a result, the queen wishes to "destroy your [Snow White's] happiness" (Evil Queen, Once, P). Good is linked to light, bad to darkness (although the Queen herself is beautiful, not ugly, as is commonly seen in fairy tales, as Baker-Sperry and Grauerholz argue). "We all must have faith" (Blue fairy, Once, P) that "good will always win" (Snow White, Once, P) because "good can't just lose" (Prince Charming, Once, P). Good and "true love proved more powerful than any curse...bringing light to the darkness" (Snow White, Once, SF), defeating evil once again.

Detectives and bail bonds "persons" as fairy tale hero/ines: A feminist antimilitarist analysis of Grimm and Once Upon a Time

21Viewers also explore backstories of so-called innocent characters, calling their virtuousness into question. Red Riding Hood is an apparently harmless girl as well as the villainous big bad wolf in fairytale land, and a promiscuous woman who is "out all night" and has "plans to sleep your way down the eastern seaboard" (Granny, Once, P) in Storybrooke. Protectors and protected morph, depending on their sometimes contradictory positionings within and between the fairytale world and Storybrooke. As another example, in the latter, before Snow White regains her memory of her true self, her alter ego Mary Margaret is gentle and unsure. However, in the former and after regaining her memory, Snow White is most often presented as a strong warrior who can and will do anything to protect her family and land. As such, throughout the first season, it is ironically the alter ego in the real world who conforms to the idea of a passive princess, and the fairy tale character who, despite falling into a deep sleep, is an active agent.

22Notwithstanding these exceptions, the concepts of good and bad are held in an overall contrast that works against complex representations (after all, how can a character named the "Evil Queen" be anything but evil?). This contrast works to vilify others and categorizes all those not identified as allies as enemies. After 9/11, Butler (Precarious Life) critiqued this line of reasoning, stating that "In a strong sense, the binarism that Bush proposes in which only two positions are possible - 'Either you're with us or you're with the terrorists' - makes it untenable to hold a position in which one opposes both and queries the terms in which the opposition is framed" (Butler, Precarious Life 2). In wars where it is good against evil, as is played out in the news media as well as in popular culture, "certain lives will be highly protected, and the abrogation of their claims to sanctity will be sufficient to mobilize the forces of war. Other lives will not find such fast and furious support and will not even qualify as 'grievable'" (Butler, Precarious Life 32). Indeed, this is a common conception in fairy tales, making "it appear that we [in the West] are all part of a universal community with shared values and norms, that we are all striving for the same happiness, that there are certain dreams and wishes which are irrefutable" (Zipes, Fairy Tales 5). The heroes and heroines of fairy tales and real life expect to be "living happily ever after with lots of gold in a marvelous castle, our castle and fortress that will forever protect us from inimical and unpredictable forces of the outside world" (5, italics in original). Zipes (Fairy Tales) connects his argument to patriotism, stating that "we need only have faith and believe in the classical fairy tale, just as we are expected to have faith and believe in the American flag as we swear the pledge of allegiance" (5). Indeed, happily-ever-after is a common concept in Once, with several characters stating they must have "faith" that good will triumph over evil.

23Furthermore, this triumph is positioned as coming only through a "final battle" (Rumplestiltskin, Once, P). When Jiminy Cricket speaks out against violence, arguing that "fighting is a bad idea. Giving in to one's dark side never accomplishes anything" (Once, P), Prince Charming responds with derision, "and how many wars has a clear conscience won?" (Once, P). Most of the characters are positioned in opposition to the Evil Queen, as afraid of her and/or willing to fight against her. For instance, when Henry is poisoned, Emma and the queen reluctantly team up only to help him, but do not trust each other. Emma warns the queen, "let's be clear about something, your majesty. The only reason you're not dead is because I need your help to save Henry. He dies, so do you" (Once, SF).

24When the curse is lifted, the queen is further warned that "if I were you, your majesty, I'd find a place to hide" (Blue Fairy, Once, SF). As such, the characters, whether male or female, do not decide to connect with each other based on their shared grief and vulnerability (Butler, Precarious Life), but through anger and violence, core aspects of hegemonic masculinity. "Contemporary hegemonic dangerous because it provides a cultural rationale for inter-personal alliance with state and corporate power, it drives arms races, strip mining and deforestation, hostile labour relations and the abuse of technologies from motor transport to genetic engineering" (Connell, 143). What drives the Once plot is a use of violence by good characters due to their love for and need to protect each other, and its use by evil characters due to hate and revenge. Although the queen began her quest to destroy Snow and Storybrooke when her own love died, the plot focuses not on her love for him but her hate for Snow.

25In Grimm, Nick is constantly fighting with and killing creatures, which is viewed as acceptable because they are inherently evil. Nick starts seeing creatures everywhere, but in particular as felons in the precinct, at crime scenes, and as suspects. When searching for the kidnapped girl, a data search results in "23 known predators within 5 square miles of the crime scene" (Nick, Grimm, P). It is not known if these are human or wesen, but it certainly establishes a sense of danger and need for protection. The program also focuses on violence done to innocent victims, with the pilot episode showing a woman's ripped off arm. The violence is often viewed by the detectives in a rather blithe manner. Discussions of "what a way to go" (Nick, Grimm, P) and "hope it happened fast" (Hank, Grimm, P) are immediately followed upon by a change of subject to Nick's intended proposal: "Big night, don't blow it Romeo" (Hank, Grimm, P). At another crime scene, Sgt. Wu states that "it's a little messy...looks like someone took a weed-whacker to his throat" (Grimm, SF) with the dialogue continuing: "you weren't kidding about the weed-whacker" (Hank, Grimm, P), "looks more like a hatchet" (Nick, Grimm, SF), "except his head's still here" (Sgt. Wu, Grimm, SF).

Detectives and bail bonds "persons" as fairy tale hero/ines: A feminist antimilitarist analysis of Grimm and Once Upon a Time

26Nick uses his position as a police officer to signal that he is good and wesen are either with him or against him: "I'm a cop, and if you know who's got her you had better tell me right now" (Nick, Grimm, P). His abruptness comes from his concern for the young innocent girl victim, as it does when he is looking for Kimura who murdered his parents. Nick states he "wants him alone and not in an interrogation room" (Grimm, SF). He takes to the Grimm life well, getting very excited when he finally tells Juliette about his double life and shows her the medieval-like weapons he uses.

27The characters of Charming, Emma, and Nick (as well as, periodically, Snow) are apt examples of how:

Hardness and violence, plus compassion and care, is a potent equation for hegemonic masculinity in public symbology today. And what tethers these two seemingly opposed principles is protection—protection of children and women from bad guys, from evil robots from the past, or from faceless, violently irrational terrorists from outside our borders. (Messner, 467)

Their enactment of hegemonic masculinity in order to protect weaker characters from danger in a fight of good against evil are core aspects of a gendered militaristic approach to life and lore. These representations are not fixed, although they circulate persistently in Grimm and Once, as well as connecting to other historical and contemporary versions of fairy tales and societal understandings of gender.


28Grimm and Once are enjoyable, well-made programs that have achieved much success. They tap into particular western approaches to fairy tales, expanding from some of the more popular stories. While incorporating many traditional elements, they also challenge certain aspects, with some female characters as good and strong (Emma), and some formerly evil characters as "reformed" (Monroe). Nonetheless, with the programs, plotlines, and characters taken together, although they add complexity, they ultimately do not defy societal norms in relation to gender and violence. Good still triumphs over evil as hegemonic masculinity saves the day.

29A main difference in the two programs, however, are the ways in which actual violence is portrayed. Once has no graphic bloodshed with many scenes quite bright and airy, while Grimm emphasizes carnage in night scenes or enclosed dark spaces. As such, Grimm retains much of the dread in the original Grimm stories, while Once reflects its Disney connections. While once Nick becomes aware of the fairytale world there is no indication that there will be a happily-ever-after in Grimm (indeed, one episode is titled "Happily Ever Aftermath," that focuses on the murder of an evil stepmother), Once is the product of the "Disney-like uniformity" Bacchilega discusses that "reproduces and sells itself internationally by turning the fairy tale into a standard values-and-dreams package" (143), although it is not as simplistic as the Disney tales that Zipes (Fairy Tales) critiques. Nonetheless, the values of both programs hinge on beliefs that hegemonic masculinity and a fight against evil will result in a dream of family security and safety, with true love restored and mothers and sons returned to each other. Indeed, perhaps it is the sons who are the true heroes. Nick is obvious as a hero as the male protagonist in Grimm, but Henry is a more covert one in Once. As Henry is the one who finds Emma, brings her to Storybrooke, and convinces her to believe, he is arguably the hero.

30Grimm and Once engage in similar ways with militaristic societal ideals. Fights, violence, and battles are viewed as accepted and required, save for the occasional voice of conscience through Jiminy Cricket. Men and women perform a certain balance of hegemonically masculine traits, working to ensure the protection of innocents. Evil continues to lurk nearby, with good always ready to respond. And yet both programs also provide space for critiques of the ways in which western society views men and women, good and bad. It is this space that will hopefully develop as the programs move into and through future seasons.

Detectives and bail bonds "persons" as fairy tale hero/ines: A feminist antimilitarist analysis of Grimm and Once Upon a Time

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