Fairy Tale Elements in Modern Journalism

(Nadezhda Sokolova, 2016)
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Russian Source

Nadezhda Sokolova

This article, which is part of the study "The Mythologization of Biographies of Famous Persons in the Media", will attempt to show the use of fairy tale elements in modern journalism. To clarify this idea, the Cinderella story will be used.

To illustrate the “work” of this plot in modern journalism, in our opinion, the life of the American singer Madonna, who is interpreted in various ways in various interviews and articles on the “star”, is most suitable. It is enough to look through the headings of articles or sections to make sure that this person is mythologized. Moreover, most magazines and newspapers deliberately bring her image to the image of modern Cinderella. Although there are headings that refer the reader to other literary characters with a similar (or simply unusual) fate. For example: "Youth spent in garbage dumps" (an explicit reference to the mythology described here - N.Sh.) (Vasiliev 2000); “Louise in Wonderland” (Carroll's tale was called “Alice in Wonderland” - N.Sh.) (Sawyer 2000); "Poor Liza" (directly by Karamzin - N.Sh.) (Chernov 1992).

In the texts of articles and interviews, the media try to emphasize the singer’s unhappy childhood, her desire for the “heights”, and achieving success only after the struggle for existence and other qualities of Cinderella. In the article "Forever Madonna. Just Madonna", published in the journal "Cult of Personalities", journalist Yevgeny Petrov remarks: "There was only one strategy - scramble up, by all means, to fame, to wealth, to love and universal attention, any at the cost of stopping your view of the world "(Petrov 2001). The same article talks about the singer’s childhood. The focus is again on the Cinderella myth: “Cloudless time ended when her mother died of breast cancer, and Silvio Anthony Ciccone (Madonna’s father N.Sh.) married a second time. Madonna was then about seven years old, and she felt the heroine of all the tales of the evil stepmother. As you know, the most optimistic of them is Cinderella "(Ibid.). The mythologeme “works” without fail even in the singer’s youth. Before becoming a “star”, she had to “live ... in slums next to petty criminals and drug dealers, work as a waitress in a diner” (Ibid.). The author of the article stubbornly makes it clear to readers that Madonna is none other than the same Cinderella who has achieved success. In the life of Madonna, according to the author, there were "magic assistants": "Soon, an increase in a penny salary was discovered: an advertisement for shooting as a nude model came up in an erotic magazine. Then came from somewhere fellow countrymen - rock musicians from Detroit, then another some unknown groups, and there was a turn in the unfolding career ... "(Ibid.). Petrov notes that the fate of the Madonna is “a typical story of thousands of provincial women who dream of a beautiful life and a metropolitan career” (Ibid.). L. Kudryavtseva in the article “Unknown Madonna” emphasizes that “Madonna herself” made “her appearance and figure. They say she was fat. And so: a fierce diet, daily two and a half hours of charge plus running. Madonna ... is able to stay on the stage the whole evening without a moment of respite and in no way betray his tiredness "(Kudryavtseva 1991).

The theme of childhood is very popular in the media about Madonna. There are articles based on facts (Yuri Zubtsov - article "Fairy of the fulfillment of desires", "Domovoi" magazine Љ 9, September 2000; Cheryl Gerat - interview with Madonna - "Cosmopolitan" magazine - January, 1995; Roman Vasiliev - article " Farewell, Madonna? The era of great pop goes after the era of great rock, "Voyage and Rest magazine, October 2000 and others), but there are also frankly false ones designed for sensation, such as Vladimir Chernov's article" Poor Liza. Mother of the famous singer Madonna lives in Russia "(" Twinkle ", Љ 14-15, 1992). This article also presents the mythologized image of Cinderella. But mythologization is not based on facts, but on fiction. This is a “duck,” as newspaper people say. The author of the article seriously claims that the singer’s mother who died of breast cancer is actually alive and is in Russia. And the Madonna herself came to America from Russia. Madonna's mother, according to Chernov, is a beggar. She “asks at the Savyolovsky station near the Soyuzpechat box” (Chernov 1992). Vladimir Chernov tells the story of the life of the young Madonna in his own way. According to him, the father of the future “star” sat in the camp, drank, spoke French, and “liked to read the novel“ Poor Lisa ”” (Ibid.). That is why the singer was called Lisa (note that the name of the Madonna is Louise. - N. Sh.). Chernov describes her childhood and youth, noting that she was an exemplary daughter, a pioneer, but in the sixth grade, “friends knocked Lisa off the right road, Savelovskaya girls who sold themselves for three rubles” (Ibid.). The author of the article paints in detail the life of the future star. It turns out that from Russia the Madonna was allegedly taken by "Ngamba, a student from the University of Lumumba, from black Africa" ​​(Ibid.). In Africa, the girl, according to Chernov, returned to her former "profession" and began to earn a living in brothels:“She has good customers — soldiers from an American base who pay in green” (Ibid.). Miraculously, a resurrected mother unexpectedly recognized her missing daughter on the cover of the Soviet Screen magazine. Madonna herself does not refuse to talk about her childhood. In an interview with Cheryl Gerat, she admitted that her mother’s early death “still haunts her soul, and Madonna talks a lot about it with her brothers and sisters, with her father when she manages to find him alone” (Gerat 1995). She explains the death of her mother to many problems in the Ciccone family. When the mother died, no one spoke about this: the father was crushed by grief, the children were told to be strong and not to cry. “This doesn’t mean that we didn’t cry, but we didn’t understand why we were crying. We were completely confused and waited for mom to return. Then, three years later, father just married our housekeeper and told us to call her mother, because she is our new mother, which caused even greater confusion, because it was not clear where the former had gone. Everyone struggled with their grief as best they could - someone sought extraordinary success in life, someone, on the contrary, omitted hands. It was all manic psychosis - so we fought with our pain, with what was on the soul "(There same). When she moved to New York, for five years she didn’t remember her relatives at all. Then she began to understand more and began to call her father. “But even now it’s hard for him to accept that my present glory is the result of those five years. He cannot calmly return to that period of his life. It is easier for him not to return. As soon as I feel that it is painful, I stop talking” (There same). Madonna admits: “I never recognized my stepmother, continuing to treat her like a housekeeper” (Ibid.). Having received everything that he dreamed about, the modern “Cinderella” suddenly declares: “I was in a hurry to be ahead, I was striving for the top ... but I forgot why I needed all this and why I was missing something all the time?” (Lukyantsev 2003). The journalist who interviewed the singer remarks: "She wonders:" Is such a modern life suitable for me? Does she get free? "And she answers - no, not free. She reached the limit of well-being, but not satisfaction:" a room full of expensive trinkets, ... a lawyer and a manager, ... 3 nannies, secretary, driver, plane, coach and a butler, a security guard (or five?), a gardener and a stylist, do you think I’m satisfied? "" The singer sums up: "I survived the American Dream and became convinced that everything is not what it seems" (Ibid.). Some journalists in their articles create their myth of the Madonna. They openly call her "deity." For example, James Patrick Hermon, in an introduction to an interview with Madonna, writes: “She, like a real deity, had everything: wealth, glory and love” (Hermon 1998).

The image of the Madonna, as can be seen from the above material, is the best suited for illustrating the use of fairy tale elements in modern journalism.


  1. Vasiliev R. Farewell, Madonna? The era of great pop goes after the era of great rock. // "Voyage and Rest", October. 2000.
  2. Gerat Sh. I will not die young. // Cosmopolitan, January 1995.
  3. Zubtsov Yu. Fairy of the fulfillment of desires. // "Brownie" No. 9, September 2000.
  4. Kudryavtseva L. Unknown Madonna. // The Peasant Woman, July 1991.
  5. Lukyantsev M. The Dark Side of the Madonna // "NEON", No. 8, May, 2003.
  6. Ozhegov S.I., Shvedova N.Yu. Explanatory dictionary of the Russian language. - M, 1994.
  7. Petrov E. Madonna Forever. // "Cult of Persons", March / April 2001.
  8. Sawyer M. Louise in Wonderland. // "OM", No. 10, October, 2000.
  9. Hermon J.P. Madonna Experience of Being. // "ELLE", No. 5, May, 1998.

  1. Chernov V. Poor Liza. Famous Singer's Mother Lives in Russia. // "Ogoniok" № 14-15, 1992.


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