Have you seen the trailer for this movie “Red Riding Hood”? Brought to you by the director of Twilight, the film seems hell bent on destroying fairy tales the way Twilight destroyed vampires. Not content to sit on their laurels, I’m sure they’ve already begun contemplating their next cash cow. Or should I say, cash bears?

While I’m a big believer in everyone’s right to like whatever they want, I’m also a big believer in the fact that everyone is entitled to their own opinion and I’ve sure as shit got one of those. I talked about the Vampires thing before in a strip about Van Helsing, but this movie “Red Riding Hood” is taking it to the hoop in a big way, and by “hoop” I mean the dumpster and by “it” I mean classic storytelling. Yes, I understand, people do re imaginings all the time. I get it. You’re so damn creative because you took one story and made it something slightly different. BRILLIANT. Yes, I understand that even original stories typically utilize the elements and tropes of stories past, but this is personal and it’s evil.

Fairy Tales and Mythology are a vital part of any culture, whether you realize it or not. Your life (and everyone else’s, really) is affected by the stories that came along hundreds, sometimes thousands, of years ago and worked their way into the subconscious of your society. These stories (like Goldilocks, Red Riding Hood, The Bible, popular Greek myths, and the writings of Mark Twain to name a few) have helped to shape who we are today in subtle but powerful ways. Goldilocks and Red Riding Hood were popular tales meant to caution youths about the danger of setting off alone or dealing with strange places and people. Greek and Egyptian mythology shaped many later religions and made them what they are today. Things like these are incredibly important to us and we, stupidly, look at them as a society and think them worthless. We can learn from them, our children can learn even more. Unfortunately, the vast library of mythological and fairy tale storytelling are looked at merely as being remnants left to us from silly frivolous morons from the past. The reality is that the people that wrote these tales, whether they lived a hundred years ago or several thousand, were very much like us and and very much as intelligent.

The stories the people of the past have left us are part of the rich history of humanity and they have a context and a meaning that was important then and that remains important now. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with using some of the concepts contained within them or using them to create new stories, utilizing them as some kind of farm for capitalizing on silly trends is a huge disservice to them and to us. Never mind the fact that the entire film industry (and who are we kidding, the entertainment industry in general) are simply doing the least amount of conceptual work in order to create the most profit. Red Riding Hood is Twilight. All those Teen Supernatural Romance novels are Twilight. It’s not wrong, but it’s like candy. You shouldn’t eat too much or you’re going to get sick.

Only in this metaphor (simile, whatever), instead of throwing up, your brain melts.

Metaphorically speaking, of course.

What I’m advocating for here isn’t the complete annihilation of Twilight or books and films that follow the trend. What I’m looking for is some balance. Kids hear these stories when they’re little or learn them in school when they talk about the Ancient Greeks or the Ancient Egyptians, but rarely does anyone take these tales seriously or look at them as viable reading material. We have huge book stores with whole aisles dedicated to supernatural teen romance books and a single small shelf with a few mythology or fairy tale books tucked away in a corner. We go crazy for science fiction, fantasy, spy thrillers, or supernatural teen romance novels that all read like the same story with a few words moved around. These things shape us, and not always for the best. I know, I’ve been there, I read a ton of fantasy books when I was a kid. I’m here to tell you, I would have been much better off picking up a book on Greek myths or an Andrew Lang collection of Fairy Tales every once in a while.

These things have substance in a way that many modern novels don’t. These stories weren’t JUST entertainment, they were lessons for the people that heard them and that’s important. We should be able to kick back and enjoy a novel sometimes, but we should also broaden our horizons and expand our minds while we’re entertained other times.

Sooner or later we have to recognize when we’re being manipulated, and unfortunately, most media today is manipulation. How do I sell to you and do as little actual thinking as possible? We expect it from commercials and TV, but even writers and artists are guilty of it as well.

So rather than reading the same stuff over and over again, why not try something new (really old)? Grab some mythology books, the fun ones that just tell you the stories, and read them. Get an Andrew Lang collection and read the fairy tales he gathered. I think you’ll be surprised at how entertaining they can be.

I think you’ll also be surprised at just how much you might learn about yourself and about the people that helped pave the way for the lives we lead today.

Even if you don’t, at least you won’t have to read about girls dating abusive vampire boys or moody, upright bears.