A fascinating article with consideration:
Why the Fairy Tale Is Fractured
L. Jagi Lamplighter, wife to great sci-fi author John C. Wright and a talented editor in her own right, has written a series of blog posts describing her fascination with fairy tales — and lamenting their subversion in the modern day.
However, when I thought about it, I realized that the problem Jagi identified with fairy tales in modern times is exactly the same problem horror has in modern times: scientific materialism has eroded what makes it special.
The materialist worldview posits that the Earth, humanity, and everything else was born not by deliberate design, but by cosmic accident. Blind physical and evolutionary forces shaped our planet and all the life on it. But in spite of all that, Earth is just one planet out of many in a great big universe, and were it to be destroyed, that universe would go on as before, not even noticing our destruction. Thus Earth, humanity, and life itself have no special role to play and are ultimately inconsequential in the grand scheme of things.
Furthermore, in the materialist worldview, everything has a “rational” explanation. Love is just hormones, heroism is just conditioned behavior, villainy is just brain-atoms misfiring, will-o-wisps are just ignited methane, and so on. Only that which can be measured exists; you can’t measure the soul with a ruler, a scale, or a Geiger counter, so therefore the soul cannot exist. The supernatural is mere “woo,” magical thinking for children and simpletons; we live in a scientific age, so we must be smarter than that, goes the idea.
In such a mindset, morality doesn’t matter. Bad things happen to good people and good things happen to bad people, because the outcome is random, stemming from blind forces that do not care about pure hearts or base sins. Everything has a rational explanation, so that dragon or troll or wendigo is just another animal — and the same is true of humanity. Likewise, demons and vampires aren’t creatures born of evil, they’re intelligent species, diabolus sapiens and sanguis sapiens or some such, and as a result are little different from humanity (which, as we established, is just another animal anyway.)
And as for the stock characters of fairy tales? The prince is a thug with a title. The princess is a spoiled girl with a lot of money (and should be saving herself anyway.) You call the witch “wicked” because you’re jealous of her power — or frightened of it. All these supposedly demonic creatures are misunderstood victims of human propaganda campaigns. “Right” and “wrong” are purely questions of who holds the power.
In such an environment, there is no room for wonder.