I'm convinced that the Disney Corporation has a heart much darker than the wholesome family values they try to market in all of their products. Basically, that they worship money and that they will do anything for it.
Most of us know about the strange things that end up in animated Disney movies, like the moving bulge in the pants of the priest who marries Ariel and Eric in The Little Mermaid, or the "S-E-X" clouds in The Lion King. Those things are probably only the company's fault in as much as they treat their animators like crap. Most of the cartoons are still pretty entertaining despite being reprocessed to give classic stories hokey, sappy, feel-good endings.
I watch a lot of these with my kids so I thought I would point out a few good and bad things about a handful of the flicks.
I already mentioned, in a previous blog, the blantant racism in Disney's Peter Pan. That bugs me, especially since there are so many interesting things about the story of Peter Pan.
Alice in Wonderland: I really like the original story. I get the sense that it was written by a man who knew a little girl and penned her a story. A story that serves as a warning that the world of adults is chaotic and absurd. We seem to give children the impression that they are being raised to enter into some well-organized, rational, fair and clockwork world of goodness. Carroll seems to be pointing out that it is the complete opposite and that the girl should enjoy being a child while she has the chance. That adults blow.
The Disney version of the story twists things so it becomes Alice's disobedience and stubborness that leads to bad experience after bad experience. As though, if she just would have paid attention to her lessons on manners her wild imagination would not give her such nightmares. At the end of the cartoon she is more than begging to get back into this perfect world that the adults have fashioned for her. It's a whole different story.
The Hunchback of Notre Dame: The classic Disney lesson that only pretty people can find love. (It seems, in this case, it was an unpopular enough decision that they had to release a sequal.) I haven't seen that one, but I doubt the hunchback kills himself there, either.
Pocahontas: My two-year-old daughter loves this one and it bothers me because of how romanticized and unlike the truth it is. If you do a Google Search for Pocahontas one of the first hits is a statement by the Powhatan Indians rebuking the Disney film.
The indian girl's real name was Matoaka. The tribe says "Pocahontas" was a nickname, meaning "the naughty one" or "spoiled child". At the time of the event with John Smith, "Pocahontas" was about ten or eleven years old, which I would think puts a damper on a love story between the two, but hey, back then pedophilia was cool (or so I gather). People also speculate that the girl saving John Smith from being clubbed to death was a ritual the tribe did with prisoners, I guess to put the fear of God in them (heathen or otherwise) before they released them. They say John Smith first told the story 17 years after it would have occurred and well after the death of "Pocahontas." They say when the two met again, years later, they did not get along. They seem to describe Smith as a pretentious mercenary who liked to tell three different stories where he was saved from death by some exotic babe.
The girl, Matoaka, served as a messenger between the indians and the colonists in Jamestown for years and played a vital role in ensuring that the colonists did not starve to death. John Smith had been injured by a powder blast and left to England and it doesn't sound as though "Pocahontas" knew much about what became of him. Later, when tension grew between the indians and the colonists, "Pocahontas" was taken prisoner and held for ransom. They said her father paid part of the ransom and asked that her captives treat her nicely. About a year later, the colonists tried to get the rest of the ransom which resulted in a big fight and burning down some indian homes. Pocahontas remained captive.
No one seems to have a consistent story regarding "Pocahontas'" marraige, but this is how one page describes it:
"John Rolfe was a very religious man who agonized for many weeks over the decision to marry a "strange wife," a heathen Indian. He finally decided to marry Pocahontas after she had been converted to Christianity, "for the good of the plantation, the honor of our country, for the glory of God, for mine own salvation ..." (I'm sure, "because I love her" was somewhere on the list," at least the way Disney would tell it.)
They called her "Rebecca" after that. The indian girl was taken to England, put into a dress and makeup, and paraded around as a sign of how the indians were seeing the light about how wonderful English folk were. Their family was known as "The Red Rolfes."
"Pocahontas" died on the boat back to America at the age of 21 (pneumonia). On her deathbed she said to her husband, "All must die. 'Tis enough that the child liveth" (About their son). She was buried in Gravesend, England but the grave was destroyed when they later reconstructed the church. In what would have been her normal lifetime, her people were frequently attacked and finally driven off their land.
How do you explain all that to a two-year-old? Oh, nevermind, let's just sing: "JUST AROUND THE RIVERBEND...!"
Beauty and the Beast: The original fairy-tale is actually pretty messed up as it is; All of this focus on justice for pretty people. According to the story, everyone was attractive and deserving. Ladies, don't be afraid to take a chance on a guy with too much hair... he may look like Fabio under there.
Bambi: It has kind of a She-Male essence. It's so girlie at the beginning (just look at the title!). There's a lot of focus on baby animals and then falling in love. Then all of sudden, Bambi's mom is getting blown away, Bambi has to fight off some pushy dude for his girl, then he fights off Satan's dogs, outruns a forest fire and takes some hot lead in the back... and then still gets to rule the forest as KING STUD. I guess it's cool.