Something I say a lot kittens, is “cut the Disney crap” people ask what I mean by that. Most seem to assume that it refers to a distaste for all things ‘cutesy’ or perhaps a policy against artificial sweeteners?
But it is actually about lying to yourself and IMHO sending children a bad message.
Many people today talk about the bad example the princesses set young girls. Because of the way they often seem to be passive, waiting to be rescued, and that their characters are poorly developed, as if they are a blank slate or empty vessel waiting to be ‘filled’ by their prince. There is validity in that, but it is not what I am talking about.
I am also not a fan of the current trend for being overly cynical about everything. This seems to me to be some kind of fear response….fear of being vulnerable? of not looking cool?. Well whatever it is, that’s not where I’m coming from either.
The perfect example I can think of for the Disney effect I am talking about is in ‘the little mermaid’
^My little mermaid, she would never be into some human prince!
In the original story by Hans Christian Anderson the little mermaid has no name, but we are told that mermaids are a creature that lives for hundreds of years, but when they die they turn into sea foam and that’s it…no soul.
As with the disney version our starlet sees a human prince and “falls in love with him”. This is crap no.1. You cannot fall in love with someone you don’t know, that’s called obsession…or in extreme cases ‘erotomania’ – the belief that someone, usually of a higher social status than you is in love with you.
She decides she must have him so she goes against her family and visits the sea witch to use black magic to alter her form so she can pretend to be someone she is not to seduce the prince….awww so romantic…NO! ARE YOU MENTAL?.
That’s crap No.2. Just because you want someone does not mean you deserve them or they are good for you. They owe you nothing for your obsessions. Those films where the girl realizes that her best friend is the one she should have been with all along…rubbish. He/she isn’t going to suddenly want you if he/she never did before no matter how much you think they should. (Don’t get me wrong here I believe that fantasy is a valid life experience in it’s own right, not inferior to ‘real life’. But the object of your fantasies still owes you nothing)
Back to the story …
Fishgirl goes to the palace and lives in the royal court. While the prince is fond of her he is not in love with her and marries a real princess not her.
On his wedding night, which is on a boat, her sisters come with a knife they got from the sea witch. If the little mermaid will kill the prince with the knife she can return to the sea and live out her life with no consequences.
She could not do it and instead chose to throw herself into the sea, turning into sea foam.
Her decision to sacrifice herself rather than kill the prince to save her tail, impressed God who gave her the opportunity to earn a soul of her own through selfless acts in limbo.
In the Disney version though, Ariel gets everything she wanted with no real consequences.
This is a typical Disney message “if you want it hard enough you can have it. Because you are entitled to have your fantasies come true, no matter how selfish or how unrealistic, and the ends justify any means.”
I’m sorry kittens but Ariel is an idiot. She wanted something she didn’t have that belonged to someone else, OK fine we all do that. She projected her childish and selfish fantasies onto a man she didn’t know. She used dishonest means to cheat her way into obtaining what she wanted, pretending to be someone she is not, hurting her family and friends in the process. And then expects ‘her prince’ to live up to her selfish fantasies, without once considering his needs.
In the original story It was only when she saw the truth of herself and chose the harder path, that she had the chance to earn something that would really be hers. But that important lesson is missing from the disney version. The fact that is is a common story in real life is irrelevant, as Disney is meant to be inspiring our spawn to be better people than ourselves.
And this all before we have even considered the valid feminist grievance re. the idea that a woman must be completed/defined by a sexual relationship with a man.
My Dad says that Anderson intended to make a statement about the ‘wrongness’ of inter-racial marriage. It could certainly be read that way, but it is kind of one dimentional. (and as one dimentionality only exists in the threoretical, it is a terrible thing to be!)
You can also read the lesson as the very christian idea of accepting the plan God has laid out for you without question..or else!
But if you take the mythological creatures, black magic and monotheistic tendencies away and replace them with just reason, what are we left with?
Lets set the story in the real world kittens….and starwipe…..
Young girl has a ten-ton crush on a rockstar. So she stops eating and skips out to hot topic to buy some mass produced altness. Looking cute-n-easy princess!
She runs away from home to follow her star, ah be still my beating heart…
From this point there are only 4 probable outcomes after she meets him. (Assuming for the purpose of brevity that they are not abducted by aliens, eaten by diamond encrusted vampires or called upon to carry the one ring)
1. He sees right through her and rejects her outright.
2. He sees through her but fucks her anyway, then rejects her.
3. He sees nothing, gets sucked into her fantasy and marries her. Now, as she never took the real him and his needs into consideration in the beginning, she has fallen into the old “be careful what you wish for” cliche. And as she figures out who she really is , he finally notices and their happy little love nest implodes. She is on her own (oh no pre-nup!) and her daddy is still pissed off.
4. He likes her but is not interested in her. They hang out for a while then move on with their own lives. She didn’t get what she wanted but she did learn something about who she is and about other people. She is on her own, just like in option 3 but has the stronger foundation for personal growth (“stronger foundation for personal growth” the self help course will be available sometime never, have your credit cards ready)
Obviously options one and two are the most likely and three and four are Disney and Anderson respectively. The best possible outcome was the original story after all. ‘Happy endings’ are rarely the ones where you get what you thought you wanted just handed to you, but they are the beginnings of something potentially better…assuming for brevity that you don’t screw the pooch.
Have a self-aware day Kittens xxx