A Dialogue on Movies, Books and More

Posts tagged ‘Children’s Movies’

The Not So Wonderful World Of Disney

Justin: IT’S THE CIRCLE…. THE CIRCLE OF LIIIIFFEE!!!

Zoe: Ummm?

Justin: A WHOLE NEW WORLD, A NEW FANTASTIC POINT OF VIEW…

Zoe: Okay, that is just disturbing. Why are you singing Disney songs at the top of your lungs?

Justin: I think the better question is: Why aren’t you?

Zoe: Because I have a bit of dignity left. I only sing Disney songs when I am walking home drunk from a bar and that was only in college and with our friend Meredith.

Justin: Fair enough. So want to take a guess as to what I think we should talk about tonight?

Zoe: Hmmm… Is it historical fiction?

Justin: Ooo close but no cigar. I was remembering a conversation we were having the other day about Disney and thought that it would be a great topic that would allow us not only to talk about some of our favorite Disney movies, but also why Disney is evil. In doing so, we can also talk about some books and movies that deal with fairy tales and the like.

Zoe: I like this Idea because I absolutely despise the Disney princesses.

Justin: I know which is why I think you should lead the charge.

Zoe: So there are a bunch of quick, vital reasons why Disney SUCKS with a capital “S,” Justin.  I’m not even going to get into what the characters look like, because that’s its own rant–and I’m getting into that later this week in my solo post.  In no particular order, here are the assumptions in Disney movies that suck: A wedding is synonymous with a happy ending; a girl is always rescued by the man of her dreams; all girls have massive daddy issues; you pity the girl, you don’t love her; and woodland creatures are sufficient friends.  Also, Walt Disney was an anti-Semitic creep.  So those are my cultural/feminist/psychological reasons.  The writer in me also hates Disney because they completely mangled every fairy tale (or legend or true story) they’ve ever “interpreted.”  Life did not go well in the original fairy tales.  I’m not saying that it would’ve been a good idea for Disney to use the original fairy tales, either–that’s just not kids stuff…  Justin, as a person who hates it when stories or myths or historical things are grossly twisted or just ruined for the big screen, how can you stand Mulan or Pocahontas and all of the princesses taken from Hans Christen Anderson’s and Grimm’s fairy tales, etc?

Justin: There you have it folks the reason Zoe and I are friends because she is awesome haha. As for liking Disney, it is more of a nostalgia thing. They were the movies I was ALLOWED to watch growing up as a kid and being the music lover that I am, I loved the songs (and still do). However, I now take Disney with a grain of salt. I know the back stories or the original fairy tales and know that Disney is full of crap. Trust me I love pointing out that Pocahontas did not live a happy life and even died from syphilis in the end. Also, not being a girl, I don’t have the same issues with the Disney princesses. The “role models” that I was supposed to look up to in those films were the strong, handsome princes that always gets the girl. To be honest it is not just Disney films that throw that in my face either. But even with the mangling of the true stories, I can’t help but have a place in my film repertoire for Disney films, they were my childhood. Come on there has to be at least one Disney film that you like.

Zoe: That is a fair point, about there not really being many other options for us to watch when we were kids, other than cartoons on TV.  I can only think of a few non-Disney movies from my childhood, like Home Alone.  Don’t mistake me, I watched Disney too.  When I was tiny, Cinderella was my go-to movie when I was sick, until I got The Lion King.  And yeah, the songs are definitely catchy and I know they’ve gotten better over the decades, in terms of role models for little girls.  I just think about the downsides of them and wonder if I’d feel comfortable showing them to my kids, without feeling like I needed to have some sort of disclaimer conversation.  But how are you going to sit down a four-year-old and say, “Now, I know Princess Jasmine has an awesome pet tiger, but if she were a real lady, she’d fall over like Barbie!  So you just ignore how she was drawn by misogynists and enjoy the way the little lying, deceiving Aladdin gets her anyway!”  Nope, see, I can’t even fake justify it…

Justin: Yeah you really can’t do that with out it ending in a lot of tears.

Zoe: Nor could I explain what the original fairy tales were like.  I couldn’t snort and go, “Please.  There’s no way that those Seven Dwarfs and Snow White didn’t—Uhhh, never mind, sweetie, just ignore Mommy…”

Justin: For some reason in Fairy Tales it never ends well for females in the “sex” department. Our society has been so Disney-ified that we forget that many fairy tales were told in order to scare children into being good. Don’t wander into the woods with your little red hood, you might just get attacked by a vicious wolf or woodsman. But, as we’ve said those are not things you can put into a child’s movie. Even my favorite Disney films Robin Hood and The Sword in the Stone have been tamed down greatly. The Arthurian legend is a lot more blood-riddled than Disney makes it out to be.

Zoe: Still the Disney versions are pretty harsh.  Bambi’s kind of terrifying, and all those stepmothers that not only hate their stepdaughters, but want to kill them!  And fathers too dumb or too entranced by a hot woman to notice it or save or protect their daughters!  Servants turned into normally-inanimate objects like in Beauty and the Beast…  That’s creepy if you really think about it.  And what about the evil Ursula in The Little Mermaid stealing souls and turning those poor merpeople into like slimy sea slugs or whatever?  Ick!  (The original Hans Christen Anderson is still way, way worse, though.)

Justin: Hmmm the more we talk about this the more I am wondering if I am actually going to let my kids watch these films. I am wondering why we were even allowed to watch these films. The innocence of being a child probably helps. When you are 4 or 5 you aren’t sitting there going, “That woman is a slut and her step-mom is a total bitch.” You are more likely to be going, “Oooo, pretty colors and wonderful music.” I think even if I didn’t let my kids watch the old Disney films, I would still have to make them listen to the music.

Zoe: Definitely!  Plus there are so many amazing alternatives to the traditional Disney movies we grew up with, and some of them were made by Disney or by Pixar (which was Disney), so bravo to them for trying to move forwards.  I’d say my animated favorites would be (in order of how much I seriously love them): Monsters Inc., Lilo & Stitch, Finding Nemo, Up, the original Shrek, and the Toy Story trilogy.

Justin: Zoe! You forgot a very important Disney movie that every child should watch.

Zoe: What is that?

Justin: The Emperor’s New Groove, duh! Disney has done a decent job lately. They are getting away from their typical princess fairy tale genre. Even the new Tangled I would put in a different category from the rest. If I want my kids to watch a cartoon version of a fairy tale, I will dig up old episodes of “Rocky and Bullwinkle” and show them the “Fractured Fairy Tales” segments. There are so many better movies out there to show them to introduce them to Fairy Tales. They might have to be a bit older but they can wait. Even the not so great movie The Brothers Grimm does a better job at portraying the tales in their real light.

Zoe: In between that, there are plenty of books that do great retellings of those stories, especially more historically-based ones like Robin Hood and King Arthur.  Actually, one of my favorite books of all time is Orson Scott Card’s Enchantment, about a modern-day man who stumbles into Sleeping Beauty.  Plus, our timing is pretty good on this one because there are is an adult version of Little Red Riding Hood, called Red Riding Hood (cleverly) coming out shortly.  And in the last two weeks, I’ve heard about the casting of Snow White and the Huntsman (Viggo Mortensen as the Hunter, Charlize Theron as the Evil Queen, and Selena Gomez as Snow White), and The Brothers Grim: Snow White (Julia Roberts as the Evil Queen) is now in preproduction.  I mean, let’s face it, Hans Christen Anderson and the Grimms wrote some incredible stories, and they’re pretty allegorical so there are lots of stories out there that have the same sort of story structure.

Justin: This is true and it will be interesting to see how the Red Riding Hood movie turns out. From the trailer you can see it is a much darker film than ones made from Fairy Tales usually are. However, we shall have to see because it looks like it could go wrong with the whole werewolf aspect of the film. Anyway, I guess what we are trying to say is, “Friends don’t let friends sing Disney songs while drunk.”

Zoe: Yeah, I don’t think that is quite what we were getting at.

Justin: Disney can be evil?

Zoe: Closer. I am sure that we might have stepped on a few toes out there by attacking Disney and that is great, in my opinion.

Justin: That is right and you should tell us why we are wrong or even, why were are right.

Zoe: Our comment board is getting lonely so start filling it up, we would love to have a discussion with you.

Justin: See you next week!

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