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A Fractured Fairy Tale

News of Very Narrow Interest

“Magic mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest one of all?”

Answering this question involves a whole host of politically incorrect characters and situations from 18th century Germany. An Evil Queen? Would her quest for power be questioned if she were a man? Seven dwarfs? You mean people of smaller stature, which in no way diminishes their abilities and ambitions. Snow White? I’m not even going to touch that one. Disney sanitized The Brothers Grimm version by having Snow White sing while she performed her “required” domestic chores. Then they reduced  three counts of attempted murder to one; eliminating the asphyxiatingly tight bodice (a bodice?) and a poison comb in favor of the poison apple. Most dramatically, Snow White is revived by a kiss from the Prince as opposed to The Brothers Grimm version where the glass coffin is dropped and the poison apple dislodges from Snow White’s throat. The Heimlich maneuver? Not very romantic.

Of course that is only a fairy tale. And most of us will never enter the Black Forest and find a beautiful young woman who enjoys cleaning house for seven gnome-like men, one of whom is named Dopey.

And a magic mirror? That’s no fairy tale. In another example of a solution in search of a problem, aka modern technology, look no further than Muse Interactive in Providence, Rhode Island. Using augmented reality, the Muse Mirror is an interactive cosmetic and wellness assistant that monitors changes in your appearance, and makes skincare product recommendations that can be purchased directly from the mirror. Equipped with hand-gesture controls, LED dimmable lights, and two stereo speakers, it weighs 33 lbs. and retails for $799.

And it’s designed to make you feel good about yourself. One application, Muse Affirm, displays positive affirmations like: “You look great today”. Who wouldn’t want to hear that? There’s a whole library of videos and tutorials all dedicated to you. Like Peloton without the sweat.

Kind of makes me rethink Snow White. Maybe my knee-jerk reaction to the Muse Mirror is wrong and technology is the solution here. If the Evil Queen had a Muse Mirror that confronted her jealousy and encouraged her to be her best self and focus on her inner beauty she might be like another Bavarian stepmom, Maria von Trapp. And the story would have ended with the Queen giving Snow White one final hug before she headed off to Heidelberg University on a violin scholarship.

Alas, we will never know. Because people like me always question the benevolence of technology innovators. Elon, Jeff, Mark — if they could only use their powers for good.


M. A. Duca is a resident of Twin Lakes narrowly focused on everyday life.

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