Sunday, March 4, 2012

Sonne of a Bitch!


 The music video “Sonne” by Rammstein gives an interesting twist on the Snow White story, in which the evil queen and the prince are physically omitted, but whose presence can still very much be felt. For example, in many versions of Snow White, the evil queen is displayed in the 'evil stepmother' archetype, being jealous and angry at Snow White, and while Snow White is not actually her daughter, the fact that many stories end with Snow White replacing the evil queen, narcissism intact, show that Snow White is a daughter figure to her. In “Sonne” however, Snow White herself gets placed in the role on evil stepmother. She clearly acts as a mother figure to the dwarves, ordering and disciplining them, and at one point even spanking them. The evil queen's presence, however, does not get solely placed on Snow White; the dwarves take over the role of poisoner, as they are the ones to poison Snow White, presumably as a sort of a vengeance upon being an evil stepmother, as opposed to as some sort of jealousy motive.

 The role of the prince similarly gets dispersed among two parties, the apple and again the dwarves. In “Sonne”, Snow White is awakened by an apple, and in this sense acts as the prince does in the stories. In one sense, this follows classic Christian motifs of the apple by giving the apple ultimate power, as it both put Snow White to sleep and woke her up. On the other hand however, the apple can be seen as an unconscious entity and can therefore not be seen as what is responsible for waking Snow White up. Rather, in the scenes right before and after the apple falls on Snow White's coffin, the dwarves are seen mining underground. This gives the implication that it was actually the mining that disturbed the earth and caused the apple to fall, and in this point of view the dwarves take the roll of the prince entirely. This is furthered by the sexual aspect of the interaction between Snow White and the dwarves. While Snow White is an evil stepmother, the dwarves are male, not female, so rather than having a jealousy aspect to her punishment, there is a sexual one taking the form of a Oedipus complex. Snow White treats the dwarves as sexual objects, spanking the bare bottoms, and so the dwarves replace the prince as the her sexual object. Looking at it from an Oedipus complex perspective, Snow White is not just the superego of the dwarves, but also their sexual id. In this light the dwarves can be seen as intentionally waking Snow White up subconsciously; they placed her upon a pedestal (atop a mountain), and more precisely above where they are digging, her always being above them allows her to sexually dominate asleep as she did awake.

 The combination of Snow White and the evil queen is not something completely new done by “Sonne”, but rather the same idea as earlier versions of the tale presented in a different way. In many versions of Snow White, Snow White does end up being evil and in fact, transforms into the evil queen by the end of the story; Rammstein, rather started with the two from the beginning, and could even be seen as a sort of epilogue to other versions, as Snow White's return after her transformation, and the dwarves attempting, unsuccessfully, to quell her new narcissistic ways.

 I personally preferred the “Sonne” version of Snow White to the Grimm's version, or any other version I have seen or read, primarily because the dwarves are so much more interesting in this version. First of all, the dwarves have sexuality. In all versions of the tale, Snow White is depicted as beautiful, if not the most beautiful girl in the land. Despite this, the dwarves never seem to display any sort of attraction to her. This causes the dwarves to appear unrealistic, and is many cases dispensable. In many version of the tale, the dwarves simply do nothing of great significance; they'll either only guard her once she's already asleep/dead, or they'll give her warning that she promptly ignores. “Sonne” on the other hand, puts the dwarves in the forefront of the story, they are critical to every aspect of it. As the dwarves are probably the most unique characteristic of the story, they really should be given a more prominent role; I mean, really, how many stories are there with an evil queen, a girl put to sleep, or a tempting apple. I remember as a child I would constantly get Snow White and Sleeping Beauty confused, because, replacing dwarves with fairies, they really are the exact same story, so Snow White tales should play up the dwarves, and their differences from fairies, not hide them as insignificant gimmicks as is in many the case. 

 I also actually liked the fact that Snow White is evil (or as my title my suggest, a bitch) from the beginning. It not only adds a new twist to the story, but also adds a new dimension to the story; who really is the evil one? Snow White certainly seemed evil, but was she really just acting as a strict mother? Did the dwarves have the right to put her to sleep? The story becomes a lot less black an white than the the original.

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