I guess everyone’s got something to say about Disney. I guess this shouldn’t surprise anyone. No one, not a single person on this planet, doesn’t know Disney and Micky Mouse. They really do have something for everyone, especially someone like me. I am, after all, a lover of the dark and twisted. Oh, you didn’t realize there was plenty of that in there? There is.
Bu Disney is not a friend to the feminists. In fact, the company is not a friend to a lot of people. I’ve gone through a roller coaster of emotions with Disney in my lifetime. I had, literally, every Disney movie ever made as a kid. I went through a phase where I wouldn’t let them in my house. And now, I’ve made my peace. If you will, let me share with you what caused this love, hate, love relationship.
Also, let me add that I have had none of these issues with Pixar. They are fantastic, and every movie they make is golden.
This is the very textbook definition of beating a dead horse, but I’ll go ahead and take a few wacks at it anyway. My favorite Disney movies growing up were The Little Mermaid, Beauty and The Beat, and Cinderella.
The Little Mermaid pisses me off because it’s the story of a young girl making stupid choices because she’s stupid, and she then has to be rescued by her daddy and new boyfriend.
Beauty and the Beast is all about a super smart girl who falls in love with an asshat. I don’t care about his appearance. Let’s face it, that might be kind of a turn on for some people. He’s a controlling douche. He does not treat Bell how I would expect a man to treat my daughters.
Cinderella, I guess I shouldn’t have to break this one down. But her whole life is shit, and all she cares about is finding a ‘prince’. The prince, by the by, wouldn’t have looked twice at her if she hadn’t been all decked out. Isn’t that what the Fairy Godmother, read representation of a maternal figure, teaches her. Is this what we teach our daughters, to focus only on our physical qualities so that we attract a boy? Look, when I make my face up and put on a killer pair of jeans, that’s for me.
Bastardization of dark stories
I love Grimm fairy tales, love them. I used to read the originals to my kids when they were babies. Cinderella, when the evil step sisters cut off parts of their feet. Ariel in The Little Mermaid turned into sea foam after Eric married someone else. (It’s not a Grimm story, but still, sea foam.)
I could go on and on. Good, dark stories, watered down to a flavorless nothing. They took the dark and grit and replaced it with singing animals and lovely dresses.
Insane internet theories
Did you know Walt Disney was anti Semitic? Do you know that there’s a penis on the cover of The Little Mermaid, or that if you freeze The Lion King at the right time some leaves flutter up in the air and spell out sex?
I could spend a whole day just reading crazy Disney crap online. Some of it’s true, I actually had that Little Mermaid cover. Some of it’s crap. Some of it’s funny as hell. For instance, there’s a story about the Small World ride being shut down because there was a kid’s body hanging from the ceiling. One of my favorites.
Modern attempts to improve their image, both good and bad
Frozen was awesome, I have no complaints. Brave, also good. Even Tangled was good, it’s what I’d call the first of a new wave of Disney movies that don’t piss me off.
But I’ve got to complain for a minute about The Princess and the Frog. Yes, she was the first African American princess. (Not the first white princess, mind you. Jasmine, Mulan, Pocahontas, even Nala if you’re feeling generous.) Does anyone else get pissed that she’s also the first poor Disney Princess? Yes, many came from humble backgrounds like Snow White and Sleeping Beauty. But they were supposed to be rich, they were stolen away from their family.
There’s also the fact that Tiana wanted a restaurant more than anything else. She didn’t get one when she saved up all of her money and worked hard for it. She got it when her rich husband bought it for her. Great moral for the girls, let me tell you. Hard work won’t matter unless you marry rich.
But I still let my kids watch Disney movies, and here’s why.
I love Disney now, for a very personal reason. They saved Marvel and Lucasfilms. So, for all the whiny, useless, pretty Disney princesses, we’ve been rewarded. The Avengers, this whole new Marvel franchise, it’s all them. Also, Episode VI.
Now we’ve come, though, the real reason I wanted to talk to you about this today.
We, give creatives too much power over how our kids end up. I know, I’m a writer. My stories have never been accused of being a bad example, yet. #lifegoals! Writers and creatives get blamed all the time for people behaving badly. I don’t need to make a list for you. But no matter what I write, I am only ever going to be responsible for how two kids in this world end up, mine.
Yes, I point out all sorts of strong female characters on shows to my kids. Science Fiction is full of them, thank God. But those aren’t my girls heroes. I point to Elizabeth Warren, a brilliant politician and Economist. Natalie Portman, who I guarantee is smarter than you. I point to Tina Fey, Amy Pholer and Sarah Silverman as examples of women who can be funny as hell. Then there’s Tamora Pierce, Philipa Gregory, JK Rowling and Mary Shelly. Oh, and also Malala.
And also myself, by the way. Not to brag, but I am a smart woman with a good career. Then there’s my mother in law, a former naval officer and an amazing nurse. And my grandmother. I think I was pretty clear about how awesome she is. Then there’s my great grandmother, who emigrated here from Hungary as a child. Don’t think that’s scary as hell? You try moving somewhere everyone speaks a different language and hates you on basic principle.
So, yeah, I don’t care if the Disney princess is frail, and wussy. I don’t care if they watch all the silly, stupid, vapid girls in their pretty dresses. I’m the example my daughters will follow. And so I work hard, because I want them to work hard. I don’t participate in girl hate, but at the same time I don’t bash men for their gender. I don’t practice self hate, that’s a big one. (My girls will never hear me call myself fat, I promise.) If you’ve got kids, maybe you should be their example. Just saying.