The most popular fairy tales are also the most frightening, according to a new study.
A new research paper by the University of Adelaide found that many of the popular fairy tale stories about gay people are the same as the scary ones.
The research, published in the journal Psychology of Popular Culture, found that fairy tales about gay men are similar to the scary stories, with gay men being treated as monsters and gay women being treated like women.
The authors of the paper say the stories are more about how a person is supposed to act, rather than what they are supposed to be doing.
“They’re more about the ‘real life’ and what the person wants to be, rather the way they’re supposed to live their life,” lead researcher Dr Sarah Higginson said.
“There’s a lot of stereotyping and discrimination, which makes the stories feel a bit more personal and vulnerable to us.”
“So in terms of their stories, we’re not saying that they’re scary, we just want to be a bit sceptical and open-minded about how they’re presented.”
Dr Higgenson and her colleagues analysed the popularity of popular fairy stories and their similarity to the more sinister stories.
“We found that the popular stories tended to be more overtly sexualised, often featuring a straight man in an awkward situation, or two straight men in a romantic relationship,” she said.
The researchers then looked at the similarity of the stories about homosexual men and women.
“This suggests that if the stories portray a gay man or a straight woman in a more awkward or romantic situation, the story may have a higher chance of having the same effect on the audience,” Dr Higgings said.
She said that the similarities to the gay fairy tales were particularly striking in the stories where gay men and straight women were in a relationship.
“These stories tend to feature gay men, in an open relationship with someone they like,” she explained.
“So the more they show the love between two men, the more likely they are to be liked by the audience.”
The study also found that stories about male characters were more likely to feature a heterosexual man in a situation where he is expected to act in a straight male’s role.
The study looked at stories from all over the world, from ancient times to the present day.
“The popularity of the more overtly homophobic fairy tales from ancient Egyptian times to today, and from medieval European folklore to contemporary pop culture, suggests that they can be a source of cultural inspiration,” Dr Sarah said.
Dr Higgs said the study was also useful for understanding the stories themselves, and how they were influenced by other media and culture.
“Some of the older stories have been told orally, and some have been written down and passed down orally, so it’s important to understand the influences that the stories have had,” she told News24.
The University of Melbourne’s Dr Higgs is the co-author of the book Queer as Folklore: The History of Gay and Lesbian People in Australia.
Topics:gay-culture,arts-and-entertainment,family-and -children,education,human-interest,australiaFirst posted March 20, 2019 12:35:46Contact Kate EdwardsMore stories from Victoria