Faeries

How Faerie Subculture has Gone Mainstream

Faeries Subculture

The news is out: fairies are the latest cultural craze, “creating a pop culture wave” worth billions of dollars. Major films like The Spiderwick Chronicles, video releases like the Barbie Fairytopia series (which has now also been turned into a hit musical for the stage), best-selling books such as Fairyopolis and the Artemis Fowl collection, and Nikelodeon’s hugely popular television show The Fairly Odd Parents have quickly become vital cultural capital for many kids, thanks in large part to mega-corporations like Disney and Mattel moving to turn the fairy into the childhood commodity of the early 21st century.

With sales increases of fairy-themed products up as much as 40% since 2005, the marketplace is becoming increasingly saturated and adorned by shimmering little people with colorful wings, wish-granting magic, and a kind of gentle sweetness that is very much the antithesis to our larger sociopolitical climate of genocidal war, ecological catastrophe, and ubiquitous greed.

Of course, fairy tales that appeal to idealizations of childhood innocence are nothing new. Great similarities exist, for instance, between the present moment and the form of popularity that fairies enjoyed throughout Britain after World War I,when a major cultural spectacle was generated over the possible pastoral existence of the Cottingley fairies.

Cottingley fairies
The Cottingley Fairies appear in a series of five photographs taken by Elsie Wright and Frances Griffiths, two young cousins who lived in Cottingley, near Bradford in England.

Of course, fairy tales that appeal to idealizations of childhood innocence are nothing new. Great similarities exist, for instance, between the present moment and the form of popularity that fairies enjoyed throughout Britain after World War I,when a major cultural spectacle was generated over the possible pastoral existence of the Cottingley fairies and items such as Cicely Mary Barker’s Flower Fairy books became national bestsellers.

Modern Day Fairies
Faeries are the new angels, emerging from the fantasy subculture into the sphere of spiritual faith and attracting believers in surprising places.

There is,then, perhaps a kind of universal cultural logic at work in both cases – confronted by the blight of imperialism and industry that is the modern Mordor, people tend to find happy, fairy-filled fantasies of Tolkien’s shire appealing and eminently consumable.

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