Everybody’s speculating! Everything has a hidden meaning behind the general message. Did man really go to the moon? Does Michael Jackson really have a skin disease? Was Walt Disney really sexist?
There has actually been a pretty open debate about whether the characters in Disney display a sense of sexist bias. The actual thought of it hit me back when I was reading a story of Snow White on an SAT practice test. Despite zoning out completely on the Critical Reading portion, I started to pick up “clues.” I mean, look at it — the basic story revolves around romance, chivalry, friendship and the general concept of good dominating evil. If you look at it the OTHER way, we have a Queen with a nonstop obsession with her beauty. She wants to kill her stepdaughter, who then flees desperately to the protection of seven dwarves plagued with shyness, mood swings, colds and narcolepsy. The girl, being so trusting, eats food from a peddler woman who vaguely resembles Madonna. She dies and shall only awaken when kissed by a Prince, and a handsome one at that. I don’t think Walt Disney would have been very satisfied with the story if the charming man on the white horse looked like Prince Charles.
In reality, the prince didn’t hear of Snow White from a distant land far, far away and decide to come rescue her. He probably just happened to be riding by. Upon seeing the hut of the dwarves, he went in to ask for a beer when suddenly, he saw this girl lying there with incomparable beauty. He decided to bring her back as a maid.
Disney features generally shift toward men. The Queen in “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves,” for example, depicts women as beauty-obsessed creatures that always need self-assurance. Snow White, gullible and needing protection, is portrayed as a girl who is innocent and sweet, and also happens to be a great housewife and cook. The Prince is the stereotypical “perfect” male that hoists the girl off her feet.
I had stopped reading Disney stories for a while already, but if they released a new story involving a heroine saving some nerdy prince with a unibrow and acne problems, I might reconsider.
One of the better-liked movies happens to be “Beauty and the Beast,” in which Belle, an attractive peasant girl, catches the eye of a hideous beast. She then goes through a series of adventures and eventually she becomes — you guessed it — a princess. The beast transforms back to some prince, etc. Yes, it does sound like a happy ending doesn’t it? There are birds chirping and dogs barking. Yes, happy times.
However, for those little girls on the opposite end of the television screen… beauty equals happy. It creates the general basis in the minds of these young girls that pretty is good, pretty is all that they need. They begin to imitate. Some little girls, adorned in princess costumes, will do household chores or pretend to be in a state of imminent danger, calling the neighbor boy to come slay the dragon — a pillow — and carry her off to the castle — the kitchen. This already displays the fact that girls are preparing to accept the “save me” role in a relationship, or maybe even in their personalities.
Disney doesn’t do males much justice, either. They always happen to be the ones to save the girls. If any of the damsels in distress had smacked the tar out of the antagonist, we wouldn’t really need the knight in the shining armor, now would we? Some boys who watch Disney movies develop masculinity early, which alters their egos in the future. Not to mention the boys who try to fly on their living room carpet and talk to stuffed monkeys.
From now on, kids should stick to characters like Bugs Bunny, Roadrunner, Elmer Fudd, etc. No matter how violent the characters get with the anvil dropping and shotgun blasting, it is still within the basic realm of make-believe. Besides, kids can’t afford to buy anvils anyway.