Snow White revisited - Kristina Chetcuti

Snow White revisited - Kristina Chetcuti

“Snow White betrayed the Queen by being more beautiful!”

“Snow White betrayed the Queen by being more beautiful!”

Once upon a time, there was a girl called Snow White who lived with her father, a widower king, in a far, far away kingdom.

Snow White lived a very happy life. She was always skipping out of the castle and popping round to villagers’ houses, chatting while helping them with their chores. They opened their hearts to her and she always relayed their messages back to her father in order to make their kingdom a better place.

It so happened that one day her father remarried and the step-mother came to live in the castle. The father started travelling more and more to far away lands to meet kings of other kingdoms, and the new Queen took over. But the Queen did not like Snow White, mostly because she was, as we all know, rather jealous of her.

Now, the Queen had a magic mirror, and she loved asking it who was the fairest in all of the kingdom. For many, many years, the magic mirror had always had one answer: “It’s you, my Queen”. But alas, one day the mirror’s answer was different: “It’s Snow White, my Queen.”

The Queen turned purple and a vein nearly popped in her temple. She stamped her feet, shouted for the guards and screeched at them to lock Snow White in the prison dungeons.

But after a while, the villagers noticed that Snow White had gone missing, and started asking after her. And they asked, and asked “Where is our beloved Snow White?” until the Queen came out of the castle balcony and proclaimed: “Snow White has betrayed your Queen. She dared to be more beautiful than your Queen.”

“Oh, but, but,” said the villagers to each other, “surely that’s not her fault?” They were puzzled because they loved Snow White. However, that very same morning, the people working for the Royal Court stopped doing all the important things they were meant to be doing, such as keeping away dragons and ensuring that taxes were paid by everyone and used for the benefit of the kingdom. Instead, they were seen scuttling around the village putting posters all over, reading “Snow White betrayed the Queen by being more beautiful”.

Then, the Royal Announcers galloped out of the Castle gates on their horses and halted at every street corner to announce what was written on their scrolls: “Snow White betrayed the Queen by being more beautiful!”

Then, the Queen’s advisors went knocking on each and every door telling all villagers how absolutely shocking it was that “Snow White betrayed the Queen by being more beautiful!”

Some villagers who truly loved Snow White replied: “But how can that be the fault of Snow White?” This did not please the Queen’s advisors one bit. They stood up and crossed their arms: “Are you saying you don’t like the Queen? Where is your field/mill/cobbler’s shop? Because in that case then we can take away your field/mill/cobbler’s shop and give it to your neighbour who perfectly agrees with the Queen that she was betrayed.”

‘Snow White, the Spin Version’ is a very familiar tale these days

The next day, the Queen asked for the crowds to gather once again.

The minute the Queen came out on the balcony she was greeted with raucous clapping and cheering: “Għax għandna l-Queen magħna aħna magħqudin!”

She basked in their cheering and then put on a mournful face and raised her hand, demanding silence. She said: “My dearest subjects, Snow White...”.

At the very mention of the King’s daughter name, the villagers went berserk. “Snow White betrayed you!”; “Down with Snow White!”; “Get rid of her!” “We don’t want her here!”

The Queen smirked, and after a while, raised her hand to silence the crowd. “Very well.” She retreated inside and ordered her huntsman to drag Snow White from the dungeons, take her to the forest and get rid of her.

And because they were victims of spin, the villagers did not live happily ever after.

Unfortunately, ‘Snow White, the Spin Version’ is a very familiar tale these days. The tactics of the Queen ring similar to the Putin administration in Russia, as the BBC’s John Sweeny found out. It’s also similar to the Trump administration in the US where Fox News twists the truth beyond recognition and bleats out whatever madness the President wants to become fact.

 And I am sure, that for those of us villagers who care to look carefully, we’d see them all around us here as well.

“Your place is at the edge of Dingli Cliffs,” wrote a certain Denise Agius about me last week on Facebook. Ms Agius believes I should commit suicide because of my column on how politicians can prevent their children from being bullied, which I wrote precisely because I am only too aware of the lifetime scars bullying can leave on you. The crucial point I mentioned last week was that children under 13 years of age should not be on social media.

When parents allow their underage children to have social media accounts they are violating the rules. The main reason Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat have an age rule is that social media is a veritable platform for online bullying: your photos can be picked up and abused of, your words can be twisted, and you can be told to go and commit suicide. Children should not be exposed to this.

And this is what the Children’s Commissioner should be speaking about every day: to get it into the head of Maltese parents – whether they are plumbers, doctors, politicians, ministers or prime ministers – that there is no place for children under 13 to be on social media because it’s ugly.
Twitter: @KrisChetcuti

P.S. Ms Agius, you’ll be happy to note that I did go to Dingli Cliffs following your comment last week. I sat at the edge and admired the most beautiful sunset ever to grace our islands, and you should shut your Facebook and do that too sometimes.

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