|“Call Me When You’re Sober” Video Shoot
(Photo: Karl Larsen)
|Links to video on Evanescence site|
A while ago, when I first got digital, I caught one of the many MTV channels and saw the video for Evanescence’s Call Me When You’re Sober which came off the Open Door cd which was on at around the same time that I was reading about fairy tales and Jack Zipes’s books, Why Fairy Tales Stickand The Trials and Tribulations of Little Red Riding Hood (hereafter Trials). A recent re-read of the former book reminded me of the video and I wanted to try and apply some of the theory to the video which is based on Red Riding Hood.
Zipes contends five things about fairy tales and the reasons for their continuance.
- 1. There is no pure tradition.
- 2. Transmission always depends on information and messages to be conveyed.
- 3. Fairy tales have a social function.
- 4. Are fairy tales utopian?
- 5. The transformation and utopia appeal to audiences.
Fairy tales, despite the attempts of the Brothers Grimm and Disney, are adaptations of oral, peasant tales. The tale of Little Red Riding Hood started from the Grandmother’s Tale (Terri Windling has a useful essay on the history on the Endicott Studios site) but has transformed itself from a warning against the intentions of men by Charles Perrault to the triumph of the little girl with help from frends in the Brother’s Grimm. The collection, Trials, traces the variations until Tanith Lee, Jane Yolen and Angela Carter showing how it has changed in literature alone. This video switches it so that the wolves allow their ears to be petted and shows how Red Riding Hood turns the tables (or at least walks down table) with a second wolf who is being evicted (arguably).
Changing medium yet again breaks the traditions laid down and prevents it being pure since literary and visual media rely upon different stimuli. The literary tale needs to paint the picture and realise the world whereas film allows the viewer to engage with the message. Given that the film also includes flying dancers and a rock band, it departs from the simple tale telling.
Instead it focusses upon the (at the time) recent break up of Lee’s relationship with Shaun Morgan of Seether (MTV article). Instead of taking the issues from the relationships, she turns it around and deals with the wolves on her own. Perhaps it has two tales: one internal and one external. The internal one which deals with the now resolved issues is the personal one and it allows her to tell a tale which fits her situation but the deapth of which will not be apparent to the reader. It gives it an internal life but the tale can only exist if it has a meaning for the reader/viewer. The external tale is about Red Riding Hood taking on the wolf, about a young woman taking control of her own situation. The outside tale moves the story into the social sphere, away from being private. The external tale is that which gives it a social function. Fairy tales are “metaphorical modes of transmission which use metaphor to encode social situations” (page 101, How Fairy Tales Stick).
Are fairy tales utopian? Is this video utopian? I’m not sure that tales work on utopianism. Early versions tell of the death of the Riding Hood and the moral from Perrault’s version does allows for Riding Hood to be gobbled up in social terms. The Brothers Grimm allow for utopianism because that suits the political purposes of the Brothers and the pan-German movement. Feminist versions are not necessarily utopian at all. This point depends entirely upon the motives of the teller.
This version of Red Riding Hood is not a utopian one, though it promises to be. Amy Lee may rise above the table and vanquish the male guest but the end does not guarantee that this will remain so. The gothic splendour rises all around her but there are hints of ruin outside. Rebuilding is so often a long process. Audience appeal is given by the promise that utopia can be reached, that life can be better in the long run. The idea of transformation is exhilarating and may be more powerful to the reader.
Fairy tales offer transformation and support multiple reading which may or may not work with each other. Their flexibility is what allows for their reuse and continuing popularity. Call Me When You’re Sober may not be the greatest example of the fairy tale genre but it shows its flexibility and popularity.