Fairies vs. Giants (1)
Announcer: From the brains behind Brains On!, it's Smash Boom Best.
Carly: The show for people with big opinions.
Molly: I'm your host, Molly Bloom, and you're listening to Smash Boom Best. The show where we take two things, smash them together and ask you to decide which one is best. Today, it's a fabled face-off between two mythical creatures. One is the height of a green bean and the other towers over the whole magic beanstalk, it's fairies versus giants. Only one team in this magical matchup will be crowned the Smash Boom Best. It's going to be a tough call, but luckily Carly is here to help us decide. Hi, Carly.
Molly: Carly, I hear you made a podcast. Can you tell us about it?
Carly: Yes. Sometime last year, as part of my creative writing class, I got together with a friend Ava, and we created a podcast called Students Versus Teachers. We then were able to enter this podcast into the NPR Student Podcast Challenge.
Molly: Students Versus Teachers. What's it about?
Carly: We were thinking about podcast ideas. We eventually decided that, since we both like books, we wanted to find out how teachers choose the books that they're going to have their students in the classroom read.
Molly: That's awesome. Do you have a favorite book, and do any of them happen to have fairies or giants in them?
Carly: I have a million favorite books. One of my favorites is Keeper of the Lost Cities and it doesn't have fairies or giants in it.
Molly: What's it about?
Carly: It's about elves and a girl who finds out that she's an elf and she has all these magical powers.
Molly: Elves seem a fairy adjacent. Carly, when I say fairy, what comes to mind?
Carly: Honestly, a small sparkly creature that does good things for other people.
Molly: What do you associate with giants?
Carly: It makes me think of the story of Jack and the Beanstalk.
Molly: Do you already have any opinions about which of these make-believe beings is cooler?
Carly: I do like fairies, but I'll try to keep an open mind.
Molly: Alright. Let's meet our debaters. Here to defend team fairies, it's journalist Tarkor Zehn. Hi, Tarkor.
Tarkor Zehn: Hello.
Molly: Thank you for being here today. Tarkor, in a single sentence, why are fairies the Smash Boom Best?
Tarkor: It's very simple. Fairies make dreams come true, period.
Molly: That's a good argument. Here to represent giants, it's comedian, Katie McVay.
Katie McVay: Hi.
Molly: Katie, in one sentence, why are giants cooler than fairies?
Katie: Giants are a metaphorical representation of the boundless energy of the human spirit, period.
Molly: Dreams, energy, this is going to be an excellent debate. Let's review the rules of the game. Round one is the Declaration of Greatness. Using facts, logic, and stellar storytelling, our debaters will present the most persuasive arguments for their side. After each declaration, the opposing team will have 30 seconds to rebut their opponent's statement. Then we've got the Micro-Round, a creative challenge each side has prepared for in advance. Round three is the Sneak Attack, a surprise challenge debaters will respond to on the spot. To top it all off, we've got The Final Six. In this round, each team will have just six words to make a closing case for their side.
Our judge, Carly, will award two points in the first round, one for the best Declaration of Greatness and one for the best rebuttal. Then she'll award one point in each round after that, but she won't tell us who she's voted for until the end of the show. Listeners, we want you to judge too. Grab a pen and a piece of paper and mark down your points as you listen. When the episode is over, visit our website, smashboom.org, and vote for the team that you think won. Everybody, you ready to get mythical?
Tarkor: Let's do it.
Molly: Then it's time for the Declaration of Greatness. Our debaters will present the most fascinating facts and awesome arguments in favor of their side. We flipped a coin and Tarkor, you're up first. It's time for a Declaration of Greatness for fluttering, fanciful fairies.
Tarkor: When we think of fairies, so many images come to mind. There's Tinkerbell, the Fairy Godmother from Cinderella, the Good Fairies of Sleeping Beauty. Sugar Plum fairies! Navi in Legend of Zelda! FernGully! The Winx Club! Cosmo and Wanda! But perhaps the most well known... is the tooth fairy!
Tarkor: While you're fast asleep, the tooth fairy is on a super stealthy mission. Getting! That! Tooth!
Tooth Fairy: Confirmed. We've got one under the pillow. Looking like a left canine. I'm going in! Over!
Tarkor: With slick skill and great ease, the tooth fairy swaps your molar for cold hard cash!
Tooth Fairy: Tooth acquired. Swapping for a crisp George Washie. Mission accomplished!
Tarkor: A creature that mysteriously breaks into your house and gives YOU money?! I mean come on! Has a giant ever snuck under your pillow and given you money? Could you imagine?
(crash and scream)
Giant: I'm just trying to get your tooth! It's so hard to pick up with my big ol' fingers. (sigh)
Tarkor: Yeah a tooth giant? I don't think so. While giants are fee fi fo fumbling all over the place, fairies are making dreams come true.
Tarkor: Just like the Tooth Fairy, most of these precious pixies are using their magical powers for good. There's the Blue Fairy who helped Pinocchio become a real boy.
In Cinderella, the Fairy Godmother rescues the princess and gives her the ULTIMATE makeover. She's turning pumpkins into carriages! Mice to men! Rags to riches!
(BIBBIDI-BOBBIDI-BOO song from Cinderlla)
Tarkor: And who could forget Tinkerbell?
She's got everything. The perfect messy bun, a sassy attitude, and a whole lotta magical pixie dust that can make you FLY! Not to mention...she's the one saving Peter Pan and the other kids from grave danger!
Not all fairies look like Tink though. Fairies are magical creatures, human-sized or smaller. They're often described as spirits, falling somewhere between divine beings and mortals. While we typically think of them as these teensy, dainty, and charming winged-beings, fairies have RANGE, and include nymphs, sprites, elves and goblins.
There were Brownies, English house fairies who helped with chores -- Although they were known to make mischief and rearrange your room from time to time.
Person: Hey...since when did my dresser turn upside down?
Tarkor: Or take the Irish banshee, one of the most feared fairies. Described as a shrieking woman with long dark hair and red eyes, the ominous banshee prophesied looming death.
Tarkor: Regardless of their form, fairies are always moving the plot FORWARD. They dominate storytelling! After all, they're called FAIRY Tales… not GIANT Tales. In fact, the word Fairy comes from the latin word Fay, meaning “fate”. Fate is when something happens out of your control, the inevitable unfolding of life! And it makes perfect sense, right? Despite often being the side character, fairies are usually the ones spicing up the story.
Think about Shakespeare's play A Midsummer's Night Dream, where the fairy Puck causes all sorts of shenanigans-- from mixing up love potions to turning a man's head into a donkey. Puck's mischief creates hilarious chaos.
Without fairies, the play would just be a dull story about four unhappy greek lovers.
BOR-ING! And that would be the case for SO many other stories. Let's revisit Cinderella without fairies...Oh little ol' Cindy is still trapped with her evil step-mother washing the floors? Bummer.
Peter Pan? Good luck finding Neverland when Tinkerbell can't help you FLY!
Fairies COMPLETE the fantasy darling.
Beyond storybooks, movies, and plays, fairies are cultural icons. Take the huldufólk, aka the hidden people, a population of elusive elves believed to live throughout the volcanic hills of Iceland. They're described as human-like creatures, both in looks and stature, although they can be as small as a few centimeters. They act like humans too! They farm, row boats, and they even have sheriffs!
They're even a part of various holiday customs-- like the Christmas Eve tradition where Icelanders clean their homes and leave food for the huldufolk. After snacking, the elves were known to sneak into the farmhouses and throw absolute ragers.
Tarkor: The huldufolk are well-respected, and sometimes feared--much like Iceland's rugged landscape. The elves' lore speaks to Icelanders' profound respect for their environment--including their hidden neighbors. Whether or not you believe in the huldufolk--or any other fairy for that matter-- they give us space to stay curious and dream big.
From entertaining us, sparking our imaginations, or inspiring a bit of magic, one thing is for sure...Giants are no match for fairies. I mean what do they even do? Plunder villages? Snack on humans? Riddle me this-- what does fee fi fo fum even mean? !
Giant: Uh...Um...No one knows what it means but it's provocative.
Tarkor: Whatever. For all I care, giants can get bibbidi bobbidi BOOPED!
Molly: Tarkor moving it forward for the versatile fairy. Carly, what stood out to you in Tarkor's Declaration of Greatness?
Carly: I really like how you included the traditions that have to do with fairies.
Molly: Katie, it's time for your rebuttal. You've got 30 seconds to squash your competition and your time starts now.
Katie: It won't take any time at all. A question was raised at the beginning of Tarkor's Declaration of Greatness, which is why is this fairy collecting human teeth, and yet, the question was never answered. First strike against the fairy population. Second, I can't help but notice that this declaration didn't include some pretty controversial fairy facts that I learned in my fairy research, which is that fairies were frequently blamed for outbreaks of tuberculosis. I'll have you know —
Molly: Time. (chuckles)
Tarkor: I need you to cite your sources, honey.
Katie: It's Wikipedia.
Molly: I think you had more to say, Katie.
Katie: I always do.
Molly: Well, now, it's your turn. We want to know why giants deserve to be crowned the Smash Boom Best.
Katie: Giants are the most important mythological creature there is. Don't believe me? OK, imagine a world without them.
Let's check on Jack and his beanstalk.
JACK: Well, I've climbed the beanstalk. Let's see what's up here….
GIANT: FI FI FO ---(POOF)
JACK: And… nothing. There's nothing here. OK. Back down we go.
Katie: Harry Potter?
HAGRID: ‘Ello ‘arry, it's me ‘Agrid with your invitation to ‘ogwartz. (POOF)
HARRY: Was someone here? Guess not. Well, I suppose I'll never go to magical school, which I don't even know about, now.
Katie: And don't forget football!
SPORTS ANNOUNCER: Quarterback Daniel Jones is running down the field and it'll be another point for… (POOF) Um, what's this team called?
Katie: Giants are important. In fact, in many cultures, giants feature heavily in stories about the beginning of the world, and what could be more important than that? !
For example, in Micronesia, there's a story about a giant named Rigi, who was tasked with lifting the sky off the earth.
RIGI: They aren't paying me enough for this.
Katie: It was so hard that right after he did it, he died and his body came apart. His torso and head became the Milky Way, and his legs became all the worms in the world.
You also have Atlas in Greek mythology. After being on the losing side in a war of the gods, he was sentenced to hold up the entire world on his shoulders for eternity.
ZEUS: OK, Atlas. You hold up the world. Forever.
ATLAS: No vacation?? ?
ZEUS: Hmm. Good point. One vacation.
ATLAS: One? !