Wednesday, February 06, 2008

I find Disney very worrying. For starters, every princess looks exactly the same. Then there's the talking animals. But even worse than that, there is the pure calculation and analysis that I know goes on behind every scene and song. It's the knowledge that every single thing done is done to make money. Touching stories, moving songs, inspirational characters... it's all figured out down to a T. Even I, when watching a Disney movie, sometimes find myself getting emotionally involved - just the way they want us to. They do it so well that it's easy to overlook the fact that they're doing it at all.

Everything Disney is such a cliche. I was astonished recently to watch a new Disney movie - Enchanted. It is obviously supposed to be an anti-cliche - the ditzy princess actually turns out to be a decent human being, and the practical woman goes to live in fairyland with the animated wanker of a prince. But the very fact of turning a cliche on it's head is already cliched! Does that make sense? It was so obvious what they were trying to do that I felt bored, and sometimes a little disgusted with it.

Somebody needs to start making children's movies that challenge the imagination, rather than merely evoke and reinforce ridiculous notions the kids are already saturated with.

I take a moment to salute Playschool's decision a couple of years ago to run a short segment on a girl with "two mums" - a lesbian couple.

When will Disney bring out a movie about a child who isn't trying to get his divorced parents back together? They divorced for a reason, kiddo! When will Disney bring out a movie portraying animals as actual animals, rather than four-legged humans? When will Disney bring out a movie featuring a gay couple? (If they have actually done any of these things, please tell me, I'm keen to see it.) I'm not talking rocket science here, I'm talking about things that kids are increasingly seeing all the time - in their own lives or their friends'. I'm all for escapism, but I'm for some realism too. The last thing we all need is yet more reinforcement of unrealistic expectations, like happy endings. I'm sure it must have some effect on depression or at least severe disappointment later in life.

"Why haven't I met my true love? I'm 20 already, and all these princesses don't look any older than fifteen, but they're married!"
"Why did my puppy get hit by a car? That's not how stories go... Puppies are meant to grow up into loving and loyal companions!"
"Why doesn't life come with a touching and inspirational soundtrack to tell me how I should feel?"

1 comment:

Rosemary Grace said...

Ooooh, I lived with a girl who thought the world should work like Disney - which really meant everything going her way ALL THE TIME, even if she changed her mind a lot.

I still love The Jungle Book, the songs are good, and the animation and scenery are all hand drawn, and so beautiful. Could Baloo and Bagheera count as the first gay dads? They co-parented Mowgli...