Like most of you, I grew up watching Disney movies. My earliest theater-going experience was of my aunt taking us kids to see Snow White. I was too little to remember much of the actual movie, but the excitement lingered for a long time. In the years that followed, I came to know and love the Cinderella in the blue dress, the Little Mermaid with red hair, and the Beauty who danced with the Beast in her yellow gown. It was magical to see fairy tale characters coming to life on a colorful screen, and I loved them all.
Since then, however, I grew up. I also became a dad – a dad to two little girls born in a world that spoon feeds little girls, foie gras style, everything Disney Princesses. The Disney Princesses have become such a massive brand that they surround us in the forms of diapers, backpacks, and stickers handed out at pediatrician’s offices. It’s now impossible to avoid them, and I’m not even kidding:
Disney Princesses smiling at me from a pile of NYC trash
The unfortunate thing about growing up is that you start to see the truth in things. MacGyver now looks dumb as a rock and Santa Claus is a tale that defies basic principles of physics. My opinion of fairy tales changed quite a bit as well. I think about how my daughters might look up to Disney Princesses as role models, and it’s a horrid thought. I start to wonder if Rambo will teach my kids a better moral lesson than the Little Mermaid. At a minimum, can’t we rate these movies PG and demand parents to provide proper narrative while kids take in all this colorful animation?
This is a series documenting my high-level annotation of Disney Princesses. Bear with me, if you will:
It began as a sad story when Snow White lost her parents and had a stepmother who wanted her murdered. Nobody deserves that kind of horror. Though, the unfortunate events aside, her story with the Seven Dwarfs is all about her poor decision-making skills.
Every two-year-old knows that Snow White should not have eaten that apple. Sure, her dad may not have taught her to guard against strangers, but Charles Darwin would argue that she needed some basic instincts for survival. She nearly had her heart ripped out of her chest, yet despite the huntsman’s warning, she turned around to accept a shady stranger’s plastic-colored apple. Every critter in the forest knew the old lady was up to no good, but it was sad that Snow White couldn’t be as smart as the turtle. Frail cripples don’t take random long hikes and end up deep in a forest, and sure wouldn’t possess any “magic wishing” food item.
“Please put this in your mouth while I watch! I’m anything but suspicious.”
The most infuriating part of the story had to do with prince. The seven dwarfs were her first and only human friends in the story. They helped her when she needed help the most, providing her with food, shelter, and entertainment. They gave her personal safety instructions (which she promptly ignored, because why would she take short people seriously?) and cared about her as more than just a tenant. When she died, they risked their own lives to avenge her. On the other hand, the well-groomed Prince Charming, a weirdo with no respect for a corpse (I mean who else kisses dead people on the lips?), did nothing for her. When Snow White woke up, she immediately abandoned her seven true friends for the rich douche bag who she didn’t even know. Ouch. Good guys finish last, because girls grow up looking up to Snow White.
“See ya suckers! I’m leaving you because he’s got a horse.”
Aurora was one privileged person who got an entire story named after her for doing absolutely nothing. You can’t do wrong when you do nothing! It wasn’t her fault to be cursed and then abandoned by her parents. I just don’t understand why, having spent all her life in a forest oblivious to her identity, she didn’t behave more like Pocahontas and enjoy hanging out with her wild animal friends. Instead, she was desperate to marry into the castle in the distance that she knew nothing about.
On the other hand, her dad was a real tyrant on par with Stalin and Hitler. For a mere superstitious matter, he ordered the burning of all spinners, committing everyone in his kingdom to have no new domestically-produced clothes for sixteen years! What was his game plan? Massively export their crops and livestock in exchange for foreign fabric? How much do you want to bet that entire communities starved to death after losing their main source of income? But of course none of that was the king’s concern.
An entire sector of economy wiped out overnight
I’m not sure whether to feel bad for Cinderella’s situation. Let’s recall how the movie began. Her bird friends woke her up (took two tries), sang for her, and helped her get ready for the day. Then she turned around scolding the cat for not getting out of bed immediately. How hypocritical! She whined all day long about being a servant to her step-mom’s family, but it actually made sense that people were upset with her sloppy job. She spent her life supposedly cleaning the house, and yet there were still critters everywhere. Let’s not kid ourselves – if my own daughter serves me tea with a rat in the cup, I’d freak out, too!
Cinderella’s story was all about how an entitled girl didn’t want to work, and spent her life dreaming about not having to work. Her ambition was to marry rich so that some other peasant girl could be her servant. Yay for no longer wiping the floor or doing the laundry! Other suckers can suck it! She had no idea what the prince looked like, but it didn’t matter, she wanted to marry him. She was completely comfortable accepting a big gift (the pink dress) from her critter friends and subsequently using them as slave labor on her ride. When she got what she wanted, she immediately abandoned all of them by speeding off in the royal carriage. Ouch. If Cinderella isn’t the textbook definition of a bad friend that you should avoid, I don’t know who is.
Fed up being a servant, but happy to make those animal friends slave over her party-going needs
With very limited screen time, the prince in this story managed to prove himself a complete loser as well. Let’s see: (1) he was so disinterested in being hooked up that his dad had to round up every girl in the kingdom for a Tinder-styled party; (2) the girl wearing a huge evening gown and a single glass shoe outran him; (3) mice-drawn carriage carrying a girl in a party dress outran his royal cavalry; (4) he was too lazy to search for the love of his life… and rather just settle for whoever his men brought back based on shoe size; (5) his dad knew that shoe size wasn’t a unique personal identifier, but didn’t care as long as the prince got laid.
“Hold up! How did you get up all these stairs so fast?”
“Please wait! The king’s guards can’t possibly catch up to that pumpkin coach!”
I suppose it was a happy ending, after all, when the lazy, unfit dude got together with a girl who was clearly just after his money. The end!