One day a long time ago my oldest son asked me, “Mom? Who is your favorite princess: Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty?”
I thought a bit and said, “While both are perfectly lovely ladies, I guess I’d say Cinderella. Even though other people were mean to her, she always kept her chin up and took the high road.” (Nice teachable moment, right?)
He looked at me dubiously. “Huh. I would have thought you’d say Sleeping Beauty, cuz’ she got to sleep all the time.”
Me: [Blink. Blink. Blink.] Good point, kid. You know me well.
Like most parents, I’ve watched (or listened to while driving — God bless in-car DVD players!!) my fair share of Disney movies. But they always get me thinking, is there some sick requirement that in order to work at Disney, you have to have serious ill will toward all parents, especially moms? Can you think of many Disney movies where parental figures have ever fared well? Let us dissect just a few:
Snow White: Parents are dead, but dad lived long enough to marry evil woman to be stepmother to Snow White. Stepmother tries to off step-daughter with poisoned apple, but is chased to her death by little men and rogue animals. Said little men put dead-ish Snow White in glass box so they can watch her supposedly dead body decompose. The Prince comes, gives her a kiss and voila! Happy happy joy joy! Side note: I can’t be the only one who’s thought, “Hmm. I’m guessing she wasn’t smelling very pretty after being laid out in a box for who knows how long. And I’ll bet you she needed a few TicTacs too.”
Cinderella: Again. The mom dies and the dad marries horrific woman. Then the dad ends up toes-up, and Cinderella’s screwed, banished to a life of degradation and hard labor for ungrateful, demanding and spoiled people. (Hmm…this actually sounds a lot like motherhood, now that I think about it.) But along comes Fairy Godmother and Prince Charming to save her from living nightmare.
Anna & Elsa: I remember seeing “Frozen” in the theater with a friend and our kids. When they killed off the parents in the shipwreck, I cried out, “Aww! COME ON!!!” (It wasn’t one of my better adult moments when a bunch of 5 year olds turned around to shush me and give me the stink eye.) At least Anna & Elsa took back the kingdom, gave Hans and the weird guy from Wesselton the big heave ho for being assholes and showed some girl power and all.
Rapunzel: I know you’re going to say, “Wait a stinkin’ minute. Rapunzel’s parents lived and she was reunited with them.” Okay. Fine. But let’s think about what happened to her before she found her parents again. She was kidnapped, trapped in a tower by a crazy lady and had no contact with other humans or the outside world. Yet somehow she emerges as this lovely, well-adjusted social butterfly once she escapes. Now I wasn’t a psych major in college or anything, but I’m guessing an experience like that does not leave you on the good end of the sanity scale.
So really, Mr. Disney. What exactly are you trying to teach our kids? Yeah, yeah. Resilience, positive attitude, hard work…blah blah blah. But really what you’re teaching is this:
- You better not like your parents too much, because they’re gonna die.
- If your dad outlives your mom and remarries, he’s gonna find the most nasty woman available and you’re screwed, sweetie.
- Guys will save you every time.
I mean yeah, I’m probably screwing up my kids pretty majorly on my own, and I’m still living (although I regularly have doubts that I’ll survive their childhoods.) And if I did die, I’m guessing my husband would hire a nanny and not deal with the whole marrying another crazy woman thing. I won’t torture you with my feminist rant about how we women do just fine on our own without a MAN, thank you. And who’s to say another woman couldn’t sweep you off your feet?? Love is love, people!
At least the fine people at Disney have been starting to create some stronger princesses: Merida who was a badass and stood up for her own free will (although Disney did have the dad lose a leg via bear mauling and then the mom gets turned INTO a bear…was John Irving a guest writer for this movie?) There was Tiana, who had to spend some unfortunate time as a frog, but did come up with a great business model and executed to the plan to make her dream come true.
I know there are a lot of other arguments to the contrary to be made and I could go on for a few more hours debating the finer points of all things Disney. But my blog. My arguments. So there. And now I’m off to give my own Prince Charming-In-His-Own-Way a smooch goodnight and probably have a few messed up dreams about getting offed by Disney.