Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Daddy VS Disney

Ok, today I'm gonna do something a little bit different. Call it an analysis. My daughter... ok, well, my FAMILY watches a lot of Disney movies. They're reliable, they're funny, they're appropriate (normally), and most adults my age, and even a bit older, can remember watching them when THEY were kids. It's tradition. 
What I would like to do is take a little better look at how they've progressed over time. Being that I have a little girl who loves her some princess time, I'll go into the princess-based movies first. What I'll be doing is offering the moral that I pick up from the movie, as I see it relating to a child. Are you ready princesses?!?! Prepare to be ROASTED!

Let's start with some of the older ones first. No, they will not be in chronological order, because I'm just not that good, haha.

1.) Snow White: Well let's see, as with many of the Disney movies, the stepmother is always a wicked, hateful, jealous woman with one goal: making the main character's life miserable. The writers of these stories must have had parents with horrible marital problems... Anyway, Snow White is made to work all day for her stepmother, and her stepmother is this vain woman with a severe jealousy problem upon finding out Snow White is prettier than her. Which begins Snow White's dramatic journey through the forest and into the company of the Seven Dwarfs. Here, she continues to cook, clean and basically manage these slovenly old dwarfs household for them, in exchange for room and board. Seems fair, right? I think so. Not a bad lesson in my perspective. If somebody is giving you something, help out and earn your keep. On the flip side, when the queen suddenly discovers the betrayal of the huntsman and pursues Snow White, the girl does nothing to aid her own defense, and opens the door for the freakishly scary looking woman with apples. You know the rest. Moral according to Daddy: 1.)Don't open the door for strangers, bad things can happen. 2.) If someone is helping you, help them in return. Well done Disney, well done.

2.) Sleeping Beauty: This girl was just unfortunate. The evil sorceress has it in for this poor girl before she can even walk! So she is whisked away to the forest to remain in hiding until her 16th birthday. Well, on the day of her 16th birthday, whilst wandering alone in the forest (which doesn't seem like a terribly bright idea to me given the circumstances) daydreaming, she happens to run into the Prince (who she was betrothed to, but doesn't know, therefore making him a stranger). They dance, and walk and flirt and all that good stuff, and then all of a sudden she has a reality check and remembers she shouldn't be doing that, and then runs away, SHOUTING HER ADDRESS TO HIM! Hmmm... this movie just seems to be one bad idea after another. Moral according to Daddy: 1.) If confronted by a stranger, immediately run away, but if he seems honest enough, and he's cute, tell him where you live, because he might be a prince. 2.) Follow your dreams. Ok, I can get behind the second one, I would encourage my daughter to dream. The first one... not so much, haha.

3.) Cinderella: This is yet another stepmother bashing film. Cinderella is made to serve in her own house, waiting hand and foot on her stepmother and stepsisters. She, much like all Disney princesses, has a head full of dreams, which is fantastic for little girls to see. As I've said, dreaming is highly encouraged in our house. Well, as the story goes, she is allowed to go to the ball if she finishes her chores in time, which get multiplied by the stepmother to prevent her attendance. Well, once she finishes her chores, everyone else is ready to go, and the mice had made her a dress from "acquired" items discarded by the stepsisters.  This dress is of course shredded, and she runs into the backyard to cry. This is the famous moment when the fairy godmother appears and makes all her dreams come true by sending her to the ball in a beautiful gown, exquisite carriage and some presumably uncomfortable shoes. All this cool stuff is given a limit though, in the form of the spell wearing off at midnight. Long story short, she hangs on to one of the shoes (the other was left behind at the ball), and ends up proving her identity, thereby seeing her dream of marrying a prince come to fruition. Moral according to Daddy: 1.) Sometimes life isn't always peachy, but keep dreaming, and things will work out. Maybe not realistic in a literal since, but definitely a good message of keeping a positive message. I'll give you this one Disney.

4.) The Little Mermaid: This one is a tough call. Ariel begins the movie by being late to her first ever musical performance, that was extremely important to her dad. Then, she continues to rant about how unhappy she is being a mermaid, and how she wants to be human so bad. So badly in fact, that she would strike a deal with a KNOWN ENEMY of her father to get it. You all know how things progressed from there, and in the end, her true love saves her, kills the sea witch, and she becomes a mermaid again, at which point her father gives in and allows her to live her life as a human. My findings on this movie will probably seem harsh, but it's all in good fun. Morals according to Daddy: 1.) If your father doesn't agree with you, go around him and do it anyway. Come on Disney, forsaking your parents for the sake of your dreams? Ouch. 2.) If you don't like yourself the way you are, find a way to be different. Hmmm... ok... I might be able to see this, but it's definitely a split decision for me. I'm half and half on this movie. Call it a draw.

5.) Belle: I kind of see this era of Disney as a turning point of sorts. Prior to this, most Disney princesses were pretty helpless as far as the story went. Waiting on their prince to come and rescue them because they were being somehow threatened by another entity. Little Mermaid hits on it a little bit by making Ariel so headstrong, but I really notice the independence with Belle. She is immediately portrayed as a woman with a purpose, dreams and a head on her shoulders. She's strong and she won't be pushed around by anyone, including the 8 foot tall beast. She wants TRUE love, to ANYBODY she falls in love with, not just a prince, it could be anybody. So the story really picks up when she rides off into danger to rescue her father (who really could've used Google Maps in my opinion). She finds herself in the castle where he is held captive, and then trades her own life for his. Noble and brave if you ask me. Then, she defies the beast and runs away because he's treating her badly. At which point he rescues her, and she stands up for herself YET AGAIN because he's being irrational and mean. After all that, she has to go rescue her father again, and is then put in the position to stand up to an entire angry mob (complete with pitchforks and torches) in defense of her friend the beast. The rest of the story continues and they live happily ever after. Morals according to Daddy: 1.) Be smart, and be independent, no matter what anyone thinks. Brilliant. 2.) Don't put restrictions on who you love that are based on income, stature or looks. Be open to love from wherever it may find you. Well done. 3.) Stand up for what you believe, and for your friends and family. Awesome. Disney, you have a masterpiece on your hands here. Brilliant job.

6.) Pocahontas: Yet another tough one. The girl is obviously independent and headstrong. Not terrible qualities at all. Early on, she is proven to be disobedient though... going against her father's very clear wishes. For the greater good? I suppose. The story then shows her finding John Smith, and teaching him all about the land, and the animals, etc. In the process, she falls in love with him, and there's a big conflict over the whole thing. This movie is pretty concise. Morals according to Daddy: 1.) If your father says not to do something, but you have a different feeling, do it anyway. Not always a smart idea. 2.) Don't let race or language get in the way of falling in love. Ok, I can support that. 3.) Defend your love to the death. Alright, ya got me there... that's a good one. All in all, Disney beats Daddy 2 to 1.

7.) Jasmine: Here is one I have to say I'm half and half on. Jasmine is a very obviously independent young woman, who feels very strongly that she should be allowed to marry anyone she wants. This of course is a problem for Jafar, who has plans of replacing the sultan. So Jasmine sneaks out, and ends up meeting Aladdin. Well, when they're both apprehended by the palace guards, she wastes no time in shovin' her weight around. Aladdin is clearly far more unfortunate than herself, and has no means of eating other than stealing his food. She shows compassion. An admirable quality. Well, Aladdin escapes to unwittingly help Jafar, and ends up lying to her about being a prince and yada yada yada. She ends up loving him anyway, without being a prince, and they live happily ever after until the sequel. Morals according to Daddy: 1.) If life isn't so great at home, leave. Not so crazy about this one. Rules might suck, but they're still rules. 2.) Help the poor and hungry. How could I possibly say anything negative about this one?? 3.) Don't let class, stature, or financial security decide who you love. A common theme, and a good one. Disney, this one is definitely passable. Well done.

8.) Mulan: Ok, while this one I don't really classify as a "princess" she's still a good role model for  young girls today I think. She defies the societal standard by being different, and quirky (reference the scene where she gives the Matchmaker a run for her money), all while being proud of it. Then, when the draft comes around to collect her father for service, she takes his place and rides off to join the army. She grows and becomes even more independent and strong throughout the whole movie, and ends up being left to die for being a woman impersonating a man. After this, she journeys to the city to save the emperor and her fellow troops, EVEN THOUGH THEY LEFT HER TO DIE. She sees the big picture. Well, of course she saves China, and all is well. Morals according to Daddy: 1.) Stand up for your family, no matter what. Brilliant lesson. 2.) Be proud of who you are, even if you're not perfect to anyone else. Something I truly hope my daughter understands. 3.) Sometimes people make mistakes, but that doesn't mean they shouldn't have help too. A very noble concept. Well placed. Another win for Disney.

9.) Tiana: This was definitely a twist for Disney. This girl has been a hard worker from the get-go. Her father passed a dream on to her, and she worked her tail off to get it. She kept her eye on the prize, working two jobs, extra shifts all to get her restaurant. Well, when her offer gets rejected by the realtor guys, she's pretty bummed out and resorts to kissing a frog to see if THAT will help. Well, obviously it doesn't, and she goes through every manner of danger and disaster to find a way to be turned back into a human being. In the process, she teaches Navine a few things about hard work (and cooking) and also learns a few things about enjoying life for herself. At the end, everything works out for the best, and they live happily ever after, of course. Morals according to Daddy: 1.) Work hard for your goals. Couldn't pick a better moral for today's children. 2.) Work hard, but take time to enjoy life as well, its not ALL about work. A practice I regularly apply to my own life. Disney, you've got a winner on your hands!

10.) Rapunzel: This girl is quite interesting. She loves her "mother" very much, which is highly respectable. Though, when given the order to stay home, she disobeys and goes outside anyway, searching for the lanterns. But along the way, she makes a near instantaneous transformation into a strong, independent woman. She defends Flynn against the thugs in the bar (who become friends), stands up to her mother, perseveres and reaches her floating lanterns. She also discovers a few things about Flynn's humble beginnings, and loves him even more for them. They find their way back into the clutches of her mother, at which point she sacrifices her freedom for the chance to save Flynn's life, at which point he botches the whole deal and cuts her hair off. They return to the kingdom to reunite her with her parents, and live happily ever after. Morals according to Daddy: 1.) If your mom tells you something, but you REALLY want to do something else, just go ahead and do it. Ok, it's for the good of the story here, but I don't encourage rebelling against the parents. 2.) Accept a person for who they are, and love them for it no matter what. Sound advice. 3.) Be assertive, and know what you want. Another case of this in a Disney princess? Disney, you're on a roll!

Ok, so that about covers the MAIN princesses of the Disney realm. Overall, there are some good strong messages behind these movies (if you choose to be a nerd and dig them out haha). I notice the more recent Disney movies are more about independent, strong, caring women, while the older movies have the dainty, helpless, over-emotional princesses waiting around for the man to come and save them.

Don't get me wrong, I will always watch these movies, and let my daughter watch them. I will also always be a fan of these movies. The above theories are purely for a fun, thought-provoking way to see the Disney movies, and how a child might subliminally perceive the things happening in them. Obviously, I will not be attributing a child's disobedience to watching The Little Mermaid a hundred times a day...

I hope you enjoy this post, and I hope you have some cool comments to share with the rest of us about it.

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