I remember when I was a kid the movies I would watch, things that are now known as “classic Disney.” These movies, The Lion King, Pocahontas, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, ect…. were all pretty straight forward. There was a bad guy and there was a good guy; there was love and there was hate. True love conquering all was usually the moral of every story. Now-a-days, true love is still a major role in these current Disney films, but it is never as straight forward as it once was.
In today’s Disney, princes aren’t princes, princesses are not always princesses, and the line between villain and fairy godmother has been blurred by a world that believes men saving women is not a good lesson to teach our young girls. But have they taken the line too far? The idea of a woman saving herself, or even a woman saving another woman, has become a growing trend. Starting with 2010’s Tangled, moving onto 2012’s Brave, and especially into the past year it’s starting to seem as though this is taking over the children movies of today. With films like Frozen and Maleficent creating cult followings, is Disney skewing the idea of who, or what, is evil?
Taking a look at Frozen, which has actually been accused of promoting bestiality as well as homosexuality, we the viewers get two different forms of villainy: the fear of the unknown and uncontrollable, as well as the evil man. Where I am all for the idea of a strong woman being shown to the young women of the world, the way that Frozen goes about doing this seems to be the wrong way. Elsa, being strong through her powers, starts out as being portrayed as an evil villain to the people of her kingdom. She is forced into hiding in the wilderness so that she can be herself. She only becomes a ‘good guy’ after a man proves to be more evil than she is. My question is thus: does she really ever HAVE to be evil at all? True that she does have powers that accidentally injure her sister, but does she really need to be exiled then hunted down like a dog for being a strong woman? My argument is that this is actually not teaching our young girls to be strong and comfortable with who they are, because in its presentation she is only accepted after she is the lesser of two evils. So is the dualism between evil and good within her really needed? Not to mention the fact that Anna, the heroine, only becomes strong enough to save her sister after she is heartbroken by the man that she doesn’t actually even love, but that’s a whole different subject.
Months later Disney released its distorted mirror of who the villain from Sleeping Beauty was. Maleficent changes this classic villain into a misunderstood mother figure and thus making her a victim and a weak woman because of, wait for it, a man! With Maleficent’s evil stemming from a broken heart rather than simply being an evil sorceress, she turns from being a strong willed woman who knows her feelings and what she wants, to being a scorned woman licking her wounds until she learns the error of her ways by watching an infant grow up. I understand the fact that there are two sides to every story as much as the next woman, often times we do end up with our hearts broken by some “evil” man and plot revenge, but does this really need to be the morals that are taught to the world’s youth?
With the future of Disney showing women that they become villains based on having power and are made weak by evil men, it stands to show that the line between good and evil is no more. With the ambiguity of what is good and what is bad in recent Disney productions the whole idea of right and wrong has been blurred in the children’s movies of late. In reality, there are bad people in the world. Turn on the news and you’ll find that there are real-life villains out there. So why are we teaching our young women that there aren’t, that men are the source of evil (there are just as many bad women as there are men), and that bad people are simply misunderstood, hurt women based on these men? I believe that the world of film was better for the sheer sake of truth for children watching. Why try to sugarcoat it? It just causes confusion and chaos.
Article by Krista Skweres