In this “progressive” age, there is recently a push for films, tv shows, and even webisodes to be more “inclusive” and universal. This means not only are people focused on race, culture, religion, and gender, but also sexual orientation.
Ever After High webisodes, inspired from the dolls, can’t even escape from the pressure to conform to the latest trend.
A little summary on the EAH series: The series follows the descendants of popular fairytale characters who attend the high school to follow in their “parents'” footsteps. Throughout the series, however, they learn that they can be in charge of their own destinies. Apple White is one of the main characters and she is adamant about following the “Royal” destiny, the destiny written for her in the Storybook of Legends (basically a contract in the fairytale world), which encourages her to live out her life like her mother (Snow White) did. Raven Queen is her polar opposite in every way. She is represented as the “Rebel” deuteragonist. She was supposed to become the Evil Queen and villain in Apple White’s shining tale, but has decided that role doesn’t “fit” her. She is actually a “good girl”. She has “rebelled” against the Storybook of Legends and decided to re-write her own destiny. In the movie Way to Wonderland, Raven Queen ripped out the pages of the Storybook so that she and other characters could write their own stories. Though the series was originally advertised as showing two different points of view, the actual series has mostly leaned toward the “rebel” side of things.
The Ever After High characters are all teenagers. Their high school was created by the “Grimm Brothers”, based off of two real-life German storytellers who were among the first to actually collect and publish the fairytales we know today. Of course, their versions were always more gruesome.
In the recent Ever After High movie Dragon Games, Apple White had been choking on a piece of poison apple (given by Raven Queen’s evil mother). She ended up passing out (like Snow White did in the story). Daring Charming, her supposed “true love”, tried to kiss her, but his kiss didn’t work. So over struts Darling Charming, his heroic sister determined to be a knight. She gives Apple White “CPR” (which many think was a kiss). There is a magic light and then Apple awakens. This seemed to many to indicate that Darling Charming was actually Apple White’s “true love”.
This may seem like a proud day for the LGBT community. In so many respects, it is. It really is one of the few moments where two females in an animated show actually touched lips. It’s a step forward in showing children that the act is very normal.
But as progressive as it seems, I highly doubt that the creators really intended to turn Darling Charming’s “CPR” into Apple White’s “true love’s kiss”. There are several indications in the webisodes and throughout the movie that reveal the REAL intentions of the scene.
As told in recent fairy tales, “true love’s kiss” can only work when the person kissing the princess has prior romantic feelings for her. In Apple and Darling’s case, neither one of them have ever shown signs that they were romantically “in love” with each other prior to the CPR. Therefore, how can it be that Darling is Apple’s “true love’s kiss” in this case? The only “loving” feeling Darling Charming has had is the love of friends…and it was that love for one of her friends that led her to try and save Apple’s life.
Friendship is a recurring theme throughout the Dragon Games movie, as with all of these movies and shows nowadays. With Frozen proving that the love of a sister is more powerful than romantic love and with My Little Pony‘s “Friendship is Magic” motto, Ever After High wants to use the same effective message to increase the bond of their female characters. They seemed determined to prove that the love between friends was just as powerful, if not more powerful, than “romantic” love.
Second, as the series seems to lean toward the “rebel” side of things, it’s also likely that the movie seemed to be showing that “true love’s kiss” isn’t necessary and is basically non-existent. Though it’s still considered pretty “magical” in the fairytale world, it is really looked at as an outdated joke, especially among those characters that want to re-write their own destinies.
Third, let’s look at the scene in totality. Yeah, sure, when the “kiss” (or CPR) happened, there was a magical “light” and she ended up coughing a “heart” out. But if Darling really was her true love’s kiss, wouldn’t the surrounding characters have reacted in a stronger way? “True Love’s Kiss” is a big deal in the fairytale universe (even if it is seen as mostly a myth). Darling Charming, as well as all the other characters in the movie, treated the whole scene as if it wasn’t a big deal, not as if the characters assumed Darling was destined to be Apple’s “true love”. Everyone was happy that Apple White was “saved”, but they didn’t acknowledge or question why Darling was the one to awaken Apple. Darling didn’t even think anything of it. Usually, when something is emphasized, like “true love’s kiss”, the narrator usually highlights it so that all surrounding viewers can fully understand what is being implied. But in this scene, the other characters (Even Darling!) just laugh it off nervously and make Apple believe it was Daring. As the series is continuing to encourage that all characters can write their own destinies, this scene seems to be another nod to that revolutionary idea rather than the idea that Darling is her “true love”.
The magical light and the coughed-out heart could’ve been the aftereffects of a broken spell. I believe the irony was the fact that true love’s kiss wasn’t needed and that a simple, unmagical solution, such as CPR, was enough.
On Darling Charming’s profile, she states she likes “guys”. How could Mattel “intend” to make her Apple White’s “true love’s kiss” if they already set up her profile that way? Even if she was into girls that are pure of heart, Apple White has shown herself not to be “pure of heart” in any way (And I theorize that she’s REALLY the evil Queen). I mean the girl is vain, looks in the same magic mirror that the evil queen once used, manipulates people and situations to achieve her own selfish desires, and does not have Snow White’s features (“hair black as ebony wood” is missing).
Finally, the scene in Dragon Games scene seems to be a play on the Grimm Brother’s story of Snow White. After all, they are the ones who “created” Ever After High.
The reason why most people have associated Snow White‘s story with “true love’s kiss” is because of Disney. What is irritating is that most people are only familiar with Disney’s version of these tales. It was my main gripe with Alice in Wonderland. Trying to explain to others how the 1985 Alice in Wonderland version was the most accurate adaptation is still a challenge…
The original story of Snow White mirrors Apple White’s situation in the movie. In the original Snow White tale, Snow White also choked on a poison apple. No one could revive her, NOT EVEN THE PRINCE. Snow White was actually awakened by the Prince’s SERVANTS! While carrying Snow White’s coffin, they stumbled on some roots and the poison chunk was lodged out of her throat.
Read about the original story here: Grimm Brother’s Snow White
Considering Ever After High puts a lot of emphasis on “changing” destinies, the confusion surrounding the tales fit with the EAH series in a strange way. Because there are so many versions of these fairytales, it further shows that the characters have many destinies they can follow and can even write their own futures. If we were to assume that the “kiss” (CPR) makes Darling her “destined” true love, it would contradict with the message behind the Dragon Games movie and the message of the whole Ever After High series. That message encourages the characters to decide their own futures. Therefore, Darling is only Apple’s “true love” if Apple feels she should be. At this moment in time, Apple has not shown any romantic interest in Darling before or after the scene.
An EAH fan brought something to my attention as well: What may have lead Apple White to believe that a “kiss” was in her destiny may have been due to the fact that her mother told her a distorted view of her own tale. Snow White was asleep when the poisoned apple was lodged out of her throat. She really didn’t know WHO saved her! In the story, all she saw was a handsome prince standing before her. He did explain what had happened but from his perspective. She may not have known that a bump in the road is what saved her life. If Apple White were to truly follow in her mother’s footsteps, the reality is that Apple White is NEVER GOING TO GET “TRUE LOVE’S KISS”. But seeing as the story focuses on choosing our own destinies, hopefully she discovers that she can create her own “happy-ever-after”.
One fan of EAH, Sorafanchick, made an interesting comment on Youtube about the controversy:
My theory is that in the EAH universe their “destinies” are actually moreso “written destinies” rather than literal fate. These were “written destinies” in the Storybook Of Legends that characters were at one point forced to fulfill. These written “destinies” were formed into a contract and placed in the Storybook of Legends. By signing The Storybook of Legends, each character was supposed to seal their “written” destinies, vowing to live just as their parents did and vowing to follow the laws of the Fairytale world. Remember Legacy Day? But when Raven tore the pages out of the Storybook of Legends and gave it to everyone in the Way to Wonderland movie, this allowed everyone to write their own destinies and make their own choices as to how their destinies should be fulfilled. This also gave Apple the freedom to choose how her destiny will be fulfilled. Of course, Apple has always been more conservative than the others.
In the movie Dragon Games, which of course, comes to us a few years after the original “Legacy Day” webisode, the Dragon Games movie teaches Apple White that even if she does follow in her mother’s footsteps…how she chooses to go about doing that is her choice. This means that she doesn’t have to do exactly as her mother did to gain the same results of “happily ever after”. She learns that she can still fulfill the destiny “written” for her, and yet still she can also choose how and when that “written” destiny will be fulfilled.
I will also talk about Apple’s excitement with “true love’s kiss” and what may have happened as to why she believed this would happen in her future if she chooses to live like Snow White.
In the original Snow White story, I don’t believe Snow White actually KNEW how she awakened that day. (It is only the readers that are made aware that a piece of apple was lodged in her throat). The only thing Snow White saw when she awakened was a handsome prince standing over her. So I believe in the EAH series that Snow White believed her prince awakened her, thus she may have told Apple that a Prince will awaken her with “True Love’s Kiss” as well (with Snow White still actually being unaware of how she herself was awakened).
I believe that Mattel played on this trope, too. When Apple White awakens she is a little bewildered and then she also wakes up to see Daring standing over her (just like her mother Snow White did). Apple then asks “did my prince wake me up?” lol Only her friends know that she was not awakened by the prince, but Apple is left not knowing how she awakened.
Raven’s mother wanted to force the “written destiny” to be fulfilled, hence why she sent a poison apple and hence why the things transpired the way they did in Dragon’s Games. This caused Apple to temporarily fall into the same situation her mother once was in. Just as Raven’s evil mother wanted. But the difference is that the people around Apple make their own dreams and destinies come true, and instead of waiting for destiny they took matters into their own hands. Rather than wait for destiny to be fulfilled (with [the prince’s servants] carrying Apple or a Prince’s kiss), Apple’s friend Darling, who is the most heroic and clever of the team, realizes that there may be another way to awaken Apple White. She decides to use CPR so that Apple White can cough up the poison. In turn, this saves the day.
I do believe that sometimes Mattel does play around with the literal fates of the characters. lol The reason for this has a lot to do with Mattel wanting to highlight the character’s fairytale stories while still giving each character their own free will to choose how the story will end or begin. After all, mostly the characters are identified more so by their respective fairytales rather than anything else in the EAH franchise, right? So some things will seem a part of their “destinies”, simply because the characters are meant to represent certain fairytales…which means there will be bits and pieces from their original fairytales inculcated within the webisodes and movies. Their original fairytales were how they were born and how they became to be who they are as of right now. This is why Apple White pretty much ended up in the same situation as her mother at that one time. But how she was awakened and how her story at that time ended was totally different from the original Snow White story. This shows us that how the characters’ own personal story is told in their FUTURES, regardless of their pasts or regardless of their origins, is still entirely up to the students of EAH no matter how many times their parents try to force their “written” destinies upon their children. We are ALL influenced by our own past and origins…therefore it will always be apart of our world…but what we do with our past and origins is actually entirely up to US. We can’t control our past and origins, but we can control our futures. I think this is the lesson The Dragon Games was teaching and really what the entire EAH series is teaching us.
I don’t believe Darling Charming was set up by Mattel to necessarily be Apple White’s destined true love. If this is what Mattel wanted, they would’ve given more hints and there would have been some sort of astonishment from Apple White’s friends about it. But nothing was said. In fact, Darling herself was not astonished that she was the one to awaken Apple. Even if actions do awaken true love instead of the being itself…, still I would think that the characters and especially Darling would have given a bigger reaction than they did. After all, being someone’s true love’s kiss is usually a BIG DEAL in the fairytale universe, right? But because there was hardly any reaction to this scenario that took place, to me this means that Darling’s CPR was not meant to be something important to the destiny of both characters. To me, this means Mattel didn’t intend for this situation to mean anything life changing…hence why they never made the characters react to the situation.
No one was astonished that it was Darling that awakened her. Darling herself was not astonished or amazed or questioning why it was her instead of Daring, either. Instead, everyone carried on as if it was no big deal. And usually in movies and stories when a person awakens their “true love”, doesn’t this cause the characters to feel some sort of connection? Darling just moved on and didn’t really care. She performed CPR and that was it. Her mission was completed. That is how it felt to me. And then no one else really cared to say anything and everyone just kind of chuckled as if they realized “True Love’s Kiss” was not needed after all. This also led me to believe that the characters did not see this as “True Love’s Kiss”; that Mattel was not technically trying to imply Darling is Apple’s true love. The casual reaction from everyone led me to believe that Mattel wanted to play on storybook tropes, using empowering feminist messages that men are not the only ones who save the day; that other women can too in their own special way. Mattel has always encouraged that women can also save the day, and in this case they wanted to show that Darling Charming has her own way of saving Damsels in distress. Instead of a kiss, she used something as simple as CPR to do the trick, which actually turned out to be what helped. She defied storybook stereotypes; that only true love’s kiss can awaken the princess….I think this is what Mattel was intending to show in this regard.
For both lesbians and non lesbian women, the situation still redefines the idea that a princess must always be kissed by a prince. 🙂 I just do not think it was Mattel’s original intention to make Darling Charming Apple’s true love in the future, and my reasons why are as I stated above. If anything, I believe Apple and Raven have a stronger future together than Darling and Apple. Even one of the producers have acknowledged this pairing on tumblr.
And I agree, regardless of the intentions of the creators, it still really is a step forward. However, I believe that companies are still trying to “play it safe” and stick to friendship stories. Now, if this was Raven kissing Apple…then I believe it would mean something.
Leave me a comment and let me know what you think!
For all the most up-to-date information on Ever After High: Royal & Rebel Pedia is the best wiki for it!