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.”
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.