By Creighton Incorminias
Edited by Nick Kawchak, Justin Moore, Darius Banks, Tracy Jupiter and Garrett Parrilla
Peter Pan is the eternal life of flying to Neverland. He never seem to have chores and goes on adventures everyday such as fighting Captain Hook or eating with the Indians. Peter has a life full of captivating adventure, humor and entertainment. Did I also mention that he gets to stay forever young? A personal aspiration for myself that never came true, yet the Disney film still captivates me. am still drawn to fantasies that are far fetched in realty. “Movies can and do have tremendous influence in shaping young lives in the realm of entertainment towards the ideals and objectives of normal adulthood,” said Walt Disney. I asked 20 people if they have seen some of Disney’s films and 19 of them said yes. Disney has presented a collection of classical films providing perpetual stereotypes that not only can have negative implications on children causing them to accept theses as the absolute truth and as they grow, they soon come to the realization that these realities were always fictitious. Consider how this makes the growing-up process much more difficult? Although Disney fails to prepare a young child for everyday living, they do prepare us for trials and tribulations with “a day of sunshine at the end of the tunnel.” In this article I want to explore … Some of the Disney movie theme that made an impression on me that include perpetuating stereotypes such as rags to riches, love and loss, damsels in distress, and hyper-sexualizing young girls among others. One comment concerning The Lion King from the Top 10s site, stated that “[This] Amazing story [is] great as an adult, because it is actually pretty deep with serious problems [that ranges from] life and death, finding our true self, accepting the past, understanding the balance in nature, to doing what is right instead what is easier…”
The concerning stereotypes in, The Lion King makes vivid realistic statement on classism, as in the difference between the wealthy and the poor, in that it’s the plebian class against the aristocracy. The lower class hyena is characterized as undereducated, begging, ne’er-do-wells who live on the wrong side of town in contrast to the lion pride who are portrayed as wealthy, benevolent and live in the finest the wilderness has to offer. When Mufasa speaks to Simba about what is their kingdom, and everything the light touches is theirs, it is symbolic on the fact that heaven shines on them and their land. The fact that the villain, Scar in The Lion King is darker than the other Lions in the Pride and has a dark heart plays on the racist keys in the film. The same goes for other villains in Disney classic films, such as Lady Tremaine in Cinderella and Jafar in Aladdin. Villains are often portrayed as darker in skin tone than the protagonist. Originally during the years of segregation and for some time afterward it was believed that the villains were darker to portray that they had a dark heart. Yet the tradition that started with Lady Tremaine in Cinderella and Maleficent in Sleeping Beauty remains unchanged. These are the kinds of moral chords these films strike despite some of its less savory undertones. Just as Rafiki says in The Lion King “The Past can hurt, but you can either run from it or learn from it.”
The American Dream for years has been to travel across the sea to with all that I have hoping to make it big in America. Well, Disney has also backed the American dream in their films that essentially portray the “from Rags to Riches” tale. In The Princess and the Frog, Tiana goes from a blue collar worker, working from check to check, to the Princess of a nation. The American dream has always been for people to have the ability to bring themselves up from nothing to position of power or become fiscally well off. For example people such as Andrew Carnegie who came to the United States as an immigrant from Scotland with only a few dollars and amassed a fortune in the Steel Industry. Disney just helps push this forward even more by making it seem easy to become well off. They make it seem so easy when they start off so low. For instance, in Cinderella she was working as an indentured servant in her own home and had very little to her name yet she also became Princess of a nation. Even in the movie Aladdin he goes from being a gutter rat, who has to “… Steal only what I can’t afford, that’s everything!” By the end of the movie Aladdin is a Prince and no longer has to steal for a living. These ideals are great to motivate children to tell them that if they do not like their surroundings then all they have to do is work hard and they are changed. But what about the idea that marrying for money will also move you away from where you want to be? Is that not also what these movies are saying? The fact is while these both get you out of your current environment; they have different morals behind their actions.
“Rule number six, when rescuing a Damsel, handle with care,” says Phil from Hercules. Women are given reputations, portraying them incapable of handling a situation without a man. Yet why do women have to be shown in this light? The princess movies favor the damsel stereotype in majority of the films. If you look at the film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, it shows how a lost girl can seek to be rescued. But the thing about this movie is that the princess seems to want to be rescued from the beginning. When the movie opens with the song, “Someday my Prince will Come…” Snow White sung as she sits near a wishing well, day dreaming in anticipation of her Prince. It leaves the viewer feeling that their knight in Shining armor is out there searching and that we are all waiting for our “Prince Charming”. We were all promised that Prince Charming, and when we come of age we asks ourselves where is he? This makes us feel weak, unwanted and undeserving of our “happily ever after”. Snow White was deserving of such rewards, but what makes me so different? While this is great to believe that love will hit you, it is also important t that we realize to live through our ambitions and accepting that love is not always the reward. The Damsel in Distress stereotype also deals with the thought that men have to be the knight and woman are representations of a man’s shadow—helpless, fragile, and unworthy of the same social standards. In recent years, Disney has refrained from portraying these ideas by giving women more powerful and dynamic role portrayals. While they have transitioned the reward, the end result never waivers. We are always left believing in our happily ever after. In movies such as Mulan and Tangled, the princesses were not those helpless and weak individuals who needed the saving of a “man”. Although these films provided encouragement through motivation and negating the ramifications of prior films, it still leaves the viewer believing that women do not really need saving but they need motivation. For example in Tangled, when Rapunzel feels bad for leaving her tower yet she is excited to see the world and Flynn convinces her to see the world. While these Damsels are becoming less seen in Disney movies there are still people that wish and want that to occur to them.
If you take a glance at Princess Ariel, from The Little Mermaid, you will find a mermaid with a tiny waist, large breasts and long flowing red hair. All the Disney Princesses have the same in body structure and are under twenty years old, from Snow White all the way down to the newest Princess Merida from Brave. Few young girls look-like that at sixteen. Disney has repeatedly portrayed teen girls as far more mature in body stature. Princess Jasmine from Aladdin walks around with her mid-drift out and perfectly toned abs to go along with her tiny waist. I have a younger sister, so it concerns me that she gravitates to these films as a way to define how her appearance should look. This would be fine if these young women were twenty-two or older, but it is harsh to make young adolescent women believe that their body is going to look like their favorite princess. To make it even worse Disney confirms this belief in the movie Mulan, while singing a song preparing Mulan to meet the match-maker, “Men prefer women obedient with a tiny waist”. Why does Disney have to represent women in this connotation of being glued to the culturally accepted body type? Yet there are corporations that have a different aspect of the female figure. If you look at Dream Works Studios, they have films that have more realistic body shapes, for example in Shrek with their protagonists. Princess Fiona in the film does not have the perfect body but one that she loves and her husband Shrek does too. Even further than that DreamWorks studios amplifies characters insecurities and faults unlike Disney to make their characters seem more realistic.
One thing that Disney conveys well is the idea of love and loss. It was a tragedy in Bambi, when he lost his mother to the shot of a hunter and has to learn to rejoin the community without her and learn to become a man without her as well as become accustomed to his father being around. Love and loss is when you experience the loss of a loved one and have to recover from it in addition to adjusting to living without them. It is also the ability to cope and adapt to the changes that their loved one is not returning. In these Disney movies where love and loss occurs it to usually a young child like Simba in The Lion King when Mufasa dies or Nemo in Finding Nemo when he is abducted. The children feel lost and lose a sense of direction. Yet while dealing with the loss in the films there is usually an adoption phase in the film where other people help the child deal with the loss and keep moving forward in life. This creates the now “Modern Family”, in our modern society. During this period of a family or community takes in the child due to loss, or because the people are accepting of the child’s ordeals and aid the child in getting back to a normal state of well-being. An illustration of this is when Timon and Pumbaa adopt Simba and teach him Hakuna Matata. These characters are similar to a gay couple adopting a young child and raising them. While in Finding Nemo and Bambi it is more of a community adopting a child than a couple, yet these are closer to the actual families that exist in our society today. They teach the child skills that they will need to learn to survive in their new environment without their loved one. These movies are providing a great way to transition into a new era of Disney films
These classic films not only carry stereotypes, morals and factors of factual life but they also give us common ground. In my family we spend many holidays and together time quoting these movies. At this prior Thanksgiving we spent time while cooking “speaking whale” like in Finding Nemo while simultaneously relating the back story to The Lion King. To show you how crazy we look while speaking whale I inserted the original clip from the movie.These films have material that is great for all ages with the jokes and the ideal of simple delicate stories that are relatable to people in all wakes of life. The issue is that there are these stereotypes that happen to be portrayed in these films. As children we pay little attention to the differences in the characters or why the villains are evil. It is just simply viewed and enjoyed yet when you become an adult they it is an astonishing realization of these perpetuating stereotypes. As an audience we must do as Jiminy Cricket says in Pinocchio, “Always let your conscience be your guide.”
While these classic Disney films are amazing and captivating, they have messages that we eventually start to carry with us. These movies have given us these safety nets of thought and believable reality and Disney is making an conscious effort to edit there train of thought away from these stereotypes, yet there are somethings that will not happen to us in our life time