WTF? Wednesday: Snow’s Ugly Lecture

Fables character Mrs. Spratt (as in wife of Jack) is easy to hate. She’s spiteful and seems to delight in saying awful things to vulnerable people, which sucks considering that she’s a nurse. Those deplorable characteristics were evident in issue #100 during the birth of Beauty and Sheriff Beast’s child. She coldly dismissed Beast’s concerns after Beauty went into a difficult labor, and she then pelted him with insults when he suggested that the Fabletown physician, Dr. Swineheart, was not on point. Since Beast goes into furry and fanged mode when he’s mad, old girl is very lucky that she wasn’t mauled.

Fabletown’s angriest health care professional absolutely deserved a verbal thrashing, but Snow White’s intervention on Beauty and Beast’s behalf went very wrong, and fast. After telling the nurse that she was a nasty person, which is true, Snow pointed out that Mrs. Spratt had the misfortune of being “an unattractive woman in a community of — well, without trying to be vain: of extraordinarily beautiful women.” Oh, but it gets better.

“One can get away with being a bitch if she’s also pretty. Not fair, but true just the same. Conversely, one can also get away with being ugly as a troll, if she’s also pleasant. … But one thing no one get ever get away with is being both ugly and mean.”

OK.

We’re to believe that Snow was trying to transfer the nurse’s wrath from Beauty and Beast onto her, but I call bullshit. She could have adequately served Mrs. Spratt without mentioning her “misfortune” or delivering a lecture about how the non-pretty are obligated to smile at all times. Plus, Beast had already referred to her as a “fat, ugly cow.” Enough, already. Comic books are filled with impossibly beautiful female characters, so is it really necessary to have one of them brag about the benefits? I can’t imagine a male character saying to another, “You’re ugly, so you don’t get to be an douchebag.”

This was the first time and so far only time that Fables, a series I’d long enjoyed, raised my hackles. I thought it was just me until, following a recent post about my waning enthusiasm for certain comics, two readers pointed out their own annoyance with that scene.

Is there a harsh truth in Snow’s comments? Sure. If someone believes that physical appearance has nothing to do with the way people are treated, I hope that rock they’re living under is cozy. I’m pretty sure that a Joe Manganiello lookalike gets way better restaurant service than the average person, and if we’ve learned anything from Naomi Campbell, it’s that you can get away with outrageous behavior (at least for a while) if you’re outrageously beautiful.

But one of the biggest problems with this bit is that there’s no context for Mrs. Spratt’s horrid personality. She’s a one-dimensional harpy and no match for Snow, a fully developed character who is beloved by readers. Other than bringing forth a chilling semi-revelation about the demise of Boy Blue, that exchange is ridiculous. When Mrs. Spratt later expresses her hatred of pretty people to Mr. Dark and asks him to make her beautiful in exchange for her allegiance, we’re left to believe that her extreme rancor stems solely from her desire to be hot. That’s not just unworthy of Fables. It’s downright ugly.

15 thoughts on “WTF? Wednesday: Snow’s Ugly Lecture

  1. Mmmm … you said “Joe Manganiello.”

    Wait. Where am I?

    Jokes aside, I thought that scene was WAY harsh, and you make some wicked smart points here, my friend. Also, virtual high-five for that last sentence.

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  2. I must agree with you. And geesh, did they have to make the fat woman mean? I’m fat but I’m not mean to people. Come on! Stop beating up women because they aren’t beautiful. I’m sick of it. Thanks for marginalizing so many women once again. I may not read this comic afterall.

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  3. I have to tell you E that I was not as annoyed or outraged by that comment as you were.
    It is a sad truth that pretty people can get away with a lot more or are forgiven more than say someone who is not as pretty.
    I saw the exchange between Snow and Nurse Sprat as the start of her reveal. Yes she wants to be prettier than everyone else but she also wants her revenge, and through this I think that we will find out a lot more about her and why she is so very mean. Snow’s speech is the catalyst to the discovery of the raison d’ etre of Nurse Sprat, and I for one am intrigued.
    When looking at the character of Nurse Spratt I kept reciting the nursery rhyme attached to her and her spouse:

    “Jack Sprat could eat no fat
    His wife could eat no lean
    And so betwixt the two of them
    They licked the platter clean

    Jack ate all the lean,
    Joan ate all the fat.
    The bone they picked it clean,
    Then gave it to the cat

    Jack Sprat was wheeling,
    His wife by the ditch.
    The barrow turned over,
    And in she did pitch.

    Says Jack, “She’ll be drowned!”
    But Joan did reply,
    “I don’t think I shall,
    For the ditch is quite dry.”.

    The nursery rhyme is based on King Charles and Queen Henriette of Britain who chose to go to war AND raise taxes on an already pressed people. So they the original subjects of the rhyme were not well loved to begin with.

    Yes what Snow said was not very nice or kind to Nurse Sprat but I took it as being a touch of the real mean that life often tosses around, and I also saw it as showing that NONE of the characters are sweet and good and kind, that they are multifaceted, they say smart things, dumb things, nice things and vile things to each other just like real people do.
    Yes I want nobel and wonderful heroes and for them to be the paragon of all that we should be but to be honest it would not be fair or true if they only ever said the good and kind and right thing. Hey sometimes Batman can be a big douche, Damian can be rather trying, and sometimes that hero that you like V Starling is a bit of loud mouth schnook, but those things give them flavour, love them or hate them
    So I can forgive and understand Snow’s speech to Nurse Sprat because it was REAL, no it was not nice but it was real, and sometimes real is not not nice or fair.

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  4. Yeah, this scene pissed me off when I read it (it’s not the first time that’s happened to me in Fables–Snow White threatening to banish Dr. Swineheart because he dared to bring up abortion as a possible course of action got my dander up, too). When you say it’s “not fair”, Snow, we don’t really believe you’re bemoaning the double standards society allows for people of different levels of conventional attractiveness, since you go on to exploit and reinforce those double standards.

    Also, “irrefutable law of human nature” that’s “always going” to exist? Translation: “Don’t even TRY to get us to stop being shallow and treat you like a real person, fatty. It’s not gonna happen.”

    Gah!

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  5. I didn’t particularly care for the interchange either, but I dont know that it is really *unecessary*. In I forget how many years now, we keep seeing example after example that Snow is a pragmatistic, opportunistic, and emotionally repressed individual worthy of a Ayn Rand wet dream. Its the whole point between the first few story arcs pitting her against Rose Red who is her opposite in many ways. It seemed to me very in character for her to say that. Its shocking to us because, after so many issues reading about her, we suddenly are confronted by the fact that up until that moment we empathized with a bitch. In some ways in fact, it kind of forces us to ask ourselves, why do we find it so easy to empathize with Snow Bitch and does it prove her point just a little bit.

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    • After so many issues reading about her, we suddenly are confronted by the fact that up until that moment we empathized with a bitch.

      That’s an EXCELLENT point. I can’t argue with that at all.

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      • There is a difference between sympathy and empathy. We also do not know what Mr. Willingham may be setting up here. This harsh exchange could be a plot point later on. I agree it was very scathing and we all want to believe in certain characters but I am not going to let it detract from this excellent book.

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  6. what snow said is a hundred percent true and was echoed on the show The Big C. laurel leney’s character said the same thing to Gabrielle CIdebry’s character. if you look at objectively and not on a personal level you’ll get it. also it doesnt mean that ugly people have to smile all the time. that’s not what she said. pretty people can get away with murder, ugly people cant, that is what she said. you can be mean and ugly but dont mad when they forgive the mean and beautiful person and not you.

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  7. Its easy for people to stand back and jump on anothers words when there upset, sometimes people say things in the heat of the moment they wouldn’t normally say because they are angry or sometimes what they say masks deeper upsets. Human’s are flawed. Sometimes people just hate because they are jealous. If we say the word fat its nasty if we say the word skinny its not nasty. To be commented on as skin and bones is that a kind comment?? its open to interpretation depending on who you ask and what their view of body image is. I guess it depends on our abilities to rise above things/how we handle difficult situations/the upbringings that have shaped us into who we are. We dont all learn how to handle things well straight away sometimes it takes mistakes and mess ups before we learn how to do things better the next time around.

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