We don't know who the models in this photo are and this is not a celebrity couple, yet we still know what is going on.
Fairy tales are delightful, ideal stories that almost all children grow up hearing and seeing. As children mature into young adults, fairy tales become a completely fictional, happy life story they realize will never happen but hope would (and some are lucky to find that Happily Ever After). Disney has popularized the tales, creating a collection of iconic Disney Princesses. In fact, I'm pretty sure most people think of the Disney illustrations when they hear the name Cinderella or Snow White.
But looking at the photograph, we see Snow White in her classic dress, holding 2 children while ignoring one at her foot and one across the room, while her Prince Charming watches TV in an upright chair, shoe-less feet on a makeshift ottoman, and beer can in hand. This is definitely not the archetypal Snow White we all had in mind. However, this image makes sense to us because of the social context that we are all familiar with fairy tales. And while this is not depicting the "happily ever after" we've heard countless times, we know that this is showing the "ever after" as a ironic scene. The production of the sign is based on the signifer (the image of Snow White) and the signified (the background knowledge of the fairy tale).
Dina Goldstein takes the image of the perfect princess and turns the story 180 degrees. This photo, our culture, shows us that having children is a burden and a relationship-killer; this is the epitome of an unhappy ending only because Snow White was supposed to be in a happy ending. She is clearly unsatisfied. Once she escaped her world of singing animals and white horses, Snow White enters the domestic world of being a mother and wife. Though children aren't always the reasons why relationships end, it is a fact that relationships do end or go through rough patches. What is the reality of love stories? Why are divorce rates so high? What happened to Jon and Kate Plus Eight?
Goldstein took more photos for her collection of "Fallen Princesses" and all the images are pretty shocking and funny. You'll recognize the story, because even if they are true tragedies that happen to everyday people, they mean more to us because we know the characters and the fact they "lived happily ever after."
Here are thumbnails, but you should definitely check out the site for more photos: http://www.jpgmag.com/stories/11918
Tell me what you think of this and the others!
(On slightly related note, this site is pretty amusing: http://whythef***doyouhaveakid.com/)