Yup, there’s my daughter Sawyer dressed as Belle, her all-time favorite Disney Princess. Yes, the same Belle who is imprisoned by a Beast, grows to love said Beast, and oh yeah, is victimized for liking to read and learn. We all know the tale. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, as a writer I am conflicted when it comes to Disney princess movies. I know, I know, they are masterful worksof art, but as I embark on a new Disney journey with Sawyer, where I have decided to revisit princess movies from my childhood that I thought I would look upon with fondness and nostalgia, I instead find myself appalled and often angered by the various issues these movies seem to have that only as an adult I’ve truly come to see with discriminating eyes.
Let’s start with Cinderella. The whimsy of a fairytale wrapped up all nice and pretty in an hour and change. But, as I started to watch this with Sawyer several months back, I found myself staring at the screen and saying, “Ok, seriously?” Let’s start with our “heroine” and I use that word loosely. Cinderella is a frumpy and very insecure woman who is being “forced” to be a slave to her stepmother and stepsisters who are slowly depleting HER father’s fortune. Question one: why did Cinderella’s father not leave his supposed fortune to his only daughter? Plot hole? YES! Ok, seeing passed that. Onto her slavery in her own home, is there some reason, if she’s so used to being a maid that she can’t leave the house and look for work as a maid in the village for some other wealthy family where she can GET PAID for her duties? Hmmm. Who is forcing her to stay there? Then we have the Fairy Godmother. Ok, lady, this poor girl has been living in deplorable conditions and has had no life whatsoever for years and NOW you show up? Hello, where have you been all this time? Furthermore, why is Cinderella’s only reaction to you, “Oh, you must be my Fairy Godmother.” How intriguing, NOT. And let’s face it, how much does this magical temptress really help Cinderella? She dolls her up and gives her MAYBE three hours to get to the palace and fall in love. Wow, talk about unrealistic. If this woman is so magical why can’t the spell last longer? What good is this Fairy Godmother anyway? Luckily it all works out by a strand of coincidence and luck, but not by the grace of this so called Fairy. Seriously, don’t even get me started on the glass slippers – I’m sure even Jimmy Choo would agree, totally chic but a tad impractical.
Onto Snow White. My daughter beams from this story when we read it to her each night, and in the written version, things are kept simple, sweet and to the point. Well, the movie, as I vaguely remember, should be the same, right? Um, no. Let’s begin with the creepy and inappropriate factor of the wicked queen telling her husband to kill Snow White. But she doesn’t say “just kill her” where a child may miss it altogether and look passed it, oh no, she says, and I quote, “Kill her, pull her heart out of her chest, put it in this wooden box, and bring it back to me as proof.” Twisted? YES! Disturbing? Absolutely. Then there’s the obvious plot hole that exists from the moment the movie begins, “Why does Snow White run away, no questions asked, into the depths of the forest at night, just because the Queen wants her dead?” Come on, she’s married to the Prince, that counts for something, can’t she go to him and they can figure it out together? Sorry Disney, I can’t work with you here. Then, this PRINCESS agrees to live with a group of grumpy, bossy dwarfs who she humbly cooks and cleans for to earn her keep. She’s a princess, what is going on here? I can’t go on, I mean I could, but you see this is a disaster all around!
Last but certainly not least is Sleeping Beauty. Sawyer is obsessed with Princess Aurora. We have a table, clothes, figurine, book and scooter with her picture emblazoned everywhere. Sawyer always asks for “Aurora and Philip” and so we got the movie for her “viewing pleasure.” Well, disappointment soon abounded. The Queen and King are lucky enough to have a daughter, and it is implied this was no easy task for them. Then she’s born and the Wicked Queen comes, sans invitation, and wreaks havoc with the threat of a spindle that Aurora will prick her finger on, causing her to die by age 16. I bet the King and Queen didn’t register for that gift at Babies R Us. So instead of all of them packing up and moving away (or simply heeding the warning and protecting her from said spindle) they pawn the baby off on her three fairy godmothers and say they’ll see her in 16 years. WOW! A little farfetched maybe? So she grows up in the forest and never asks about her parents or anything, then the three godmothers spring it on her that oh by the way, you’re betrothed to Prince Philip because SURPRISE you’re a princess and are about the go back home and live happily ever after? And her response — no biggie. Come on Disney, give me a break.
So there you have it. My vent session on what I can only imagine was a collection of movies that were thought to be the work of great minds (50 years ago). Our kids are impressionable. Come on Disney! Moms, what Disney movie do you wish would stay locked in the vault for good?
This post is sponsored by:
The Brett Saks Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, hopes to make our Arizona communities safer for bicyclists by teaching adults and children about road safety and mutual respect between drivers and cyclists in fun and engaging ways. We are “Shifting Gears to Saves Lives,” as more than 600 cyclists are lost each year to car-bike accidents. Learn more at gearupaz.org.