Today, an Ugly Ducklings would simply adorn its unattractive plumage with provocative tattoos and beak piercings, adopt coulter-cultural interests and anti-social behaviors, rather than meekly acquiescing to the demonstrable truth of its own grotesquerie.
Such an Ugly Duckling would, alas, probably die of a heroin overdose before realizing that it was destined to transform into a beautiful swan, or at the very least just get very fat and self-harm, ruining its looks for good before running away to join a Brechtian theater troupe touring the barnyards of Eastern Europe.
But this is clearly the graphic, unromantic fate of all old-fashioned fairy tale characters in the age of Reality TV. The sentimental, olde-worlde imagination of Hans Christian Anderson, after all, is not well suited to the unequivocally unpleasant qualities of modern life.
One can too easily foresee the Little Mermaid drifting into casual prostitution, or Thumbelina being crushed by the careless step of a drunken hooligan's size twelve Nike sneaker as he blunders towards the nearest bathroom. And an Emperor with new clothes, upon discovering his own nakedness, would surely use the occasion to send lewd pictures of himself to the smartphones of female members of other royal households.
So I would hesitate, if I were you, before buying that wonderfully illustrated compendium of fairy tales for a child this Christmas. Even the most innocent of twenty-first-century four-year-olds is too osmotically streetwise to take that old soppy nonsense seriously anymore.