For years I’ve maintained a staunch anti-Disney standpoint, to the extent where people that I had thought were reasonably sensible, balanced and thoughtful human beings have been drastically and irreversibly shipped from the ‘pretty cool’ compartment of my world to the rusty, grubby and slightly musty-smelling ‘deluded, shit and evil’ drawer.
This is the drawer in my consciousness to which I have relegated everything Playboy branded, McDonalds, g-strings, Rainbow Magic books, anyone who says ‘HORMONES’ whenever a woman is pissed off and biscuits that disintegrate in your coffee after 0.7 of a second. It only takes one sentence; “they’re just fairy stories!” and I’m off, mentally clubbing them over the head and dragging them by one leg to a place more appropriate for their damaging and potentially dangerous way of thinking.
You think I’m totally overreacting, right? Of course you do. But consider this; Snow White and the Seven Dwarves as a simple story would’ve quickly fallen into irrelevance and disappeared without trace without Disney. Ditto Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and Beauty and the Beast. All tales of young women whose lives are dictated by the whims of men and aspire to nothing more than marriage. And who are hideously ill-treated to boot. I staunchly refuse to knowingly allow my daughter to watch this deceitful shit. I don’t want her to get even the slightest inkling that it’s ok to live a cheerful life of servitude (Cinderella, Snow White) or that she should put herself in danger to protect someone who believes he is more important than she (Beauty & The Beast), or that females cannot choose who they marry (Sleeping Beauty). And worse still, I goes as berserk as a lioness on a lettuce diet when the joyous outcomes are little more than a future of quiet marriage to men they barely know.
They’re just fairy stories!
Well of course you’re entitled to your opinion, but FUCK OFF, YEAH?
Can the same argument that is applied to violent movies not be applied to films that give unrealistic expectations of the world? Children are, on the whole, scrumptious little monkeys who imitate their world in order to make sense of it and want approval. Generations of foolish adults perpetuating The Little Princess Myth make Disney part of a global equality problem.
And then Frozen happened. Fucking Frozen. The most irritating thing about Frozen is that it’s actually an excellent film. It’s excellence can blind you to its issues. The songs are as catchy as fuck. I find myself singing ‘Do You Wanna Build A Snowman’ randomly and I’m not the only one. I’ve heard people singing ‘Let It Go’ as they walk past my house and ‘Love Is An Open Door’ in the queue at the supermarket. I would normally say that it’s purely down to the transformative power of music, but then those Disney BASTARDS bring in two main characters who answer to no-one but themselves, are naive, have accidents and make mistakes. Two sisters who couldn’t be less alike, but couldn’t love each other more. One who is responsible, quiet and reserved and the other who is a total and utter hyper gobshite with a wild streak and a head full of hopes and dreams. See? I’ve almost totally bought into this saccharine bollocks.
It almost doesn’t need saying that they are princesses. This is essentially what gets under my cunting skin. Why princesses? It’s 2014 for flying fucks sake! We all know that being a princess is a pretty fucking shitty old job all round. You have no voice, instead spending life in endless rounds of smiling sweetly at pillocks, being scrutinised constantly, cuddling grubby babies, yet not being able to hang out with your own children properly, having every mouthful of food you consume approved by a dietician, lest you gain a pound and not disappear when you turn sideways. You can’t do anything fucking daft, sunbathe topless or fanny about drinking prosecco with chums on a school night and then fall ravenously upon a dirty great chicken shashlik. You can’t fall out of taxis, flip people the bird, shag in a park or pierce your lips. Being a princess sounds altogether fucking shite to me. Your life is not your own, which I suppose is why it’s a format that suits Disney so incredibly well. It’s a box in which they can place women, rendering them ‘safe’, ‘non-controversial’ and, by far the most important thing, ‘universally marketable’. Even the well ‘ard Merida in Brave, for all her shit hot archery skillz and stroppy tantrums achieves nothing more than being able to choose who she can marry and when. But not if.
The Princess Myth sets young girls up for a fall. It gives them skewed priorities and unrealistic expectations. It might feel incredibly heartening that after nearly 100 years of churning out princesses that finally the ‘love at first sight, rescued by prince charming’ crap has been replaced in Frozen with a more independent spirit and a healthy dose of cynicism (“hang on, you mean to tell me you got engaged to someone you just met that day???”), but The Princess Myth, even in the case of Elsa, Anna and Merida, still ultimately tells girls that they have to conform to be accepted, trousers just won’t do (even if you’re climbing a mountain, riding a horse or sword fighting, it’s like the Disney equivalent of white trousers in a Tampax advert FFS) that the world is small and superficial and that you must always, always, ALWAYS, have long, luxurious locks.
As with all things, an alternative exists. You can choose to temper the unattainable physical perfection of The Princesses with interesting, exciting, intelligent, fantastical and aspirational viewing.
Princess Mononoke (if you must have a princess, make her a wild, knife wielding Eco-princess)
Transformers (1986 not the one with that pillock Shia Lawhatsit)
Kiki’s Delivery Service (on the whole Studio Ghibli films contain great female role models)
Or you could choose to poke it all up its own arse, buy the soundtrack to Frozen, sing along to it together until you’re totally hoarse, your tiaras have gone wonky and your neighbours are threatening you with environmental health, then cuddle up on the couch, read a good book and share a bag of Gummi Bears.
Balance in all things.