Retro Disney: A Review on Sexism, Racism and General Stupidity.

This is no way is a comprehensive list of all of the Disney movies. I’ve merely going through the Disney movies that I am most familiar with, and making observations about what I thought while watching them as a kid versus watching them now.

Snow White
I never realized as a child that Snow White is meant to be 14. Maybe Disney decided to change this fact when adapting the movie from the book. Anyway…
The thing that mostly bothers me about this movie is that we, as the audience are expected to accept the universe for what it is: so, magical mirrors, and potions that can change appearances, but the main conflict between a Queen and child is an argument over who is more beautiful?  Even the magic mirror, who’s mere existence is unexplained and fascinating, is used to answer dumb questions? I guess, being a mirror, or having your existence trapped within a mirror (see, I would have been more interested in exploring his existence… maybe if he tricked the Queen into trying to kill Snow White, or something… ) you don’t really have any say in what you are allowed to do.

SHREK-Thelonious1
Let this be fair warning to thee, mirror.

It seems like for many fiction stories, it’s not uncommon for the beauty of female characters to be their biggest achievement (and perhaps in real life, too?). The prince knows nothing about Snow White, except that she seems to be some kind of servant. But, she is beautiful, so that’s enough for him, apparently.

There is also a theme that is within literature: evil, or mean women are always ugly. Meaning that good-looking people must therefore be good. There have been studies that prove that people automatically will think that good-looking people are more successful, more trustworthy, etc… Maybe this is why princes seem to fall in love with pretty girls at the drop of a hat? :/

Witch-the-witch-from-snow-white-31444288-432-346Howdy!

I’m not even going to delve into the Adam and Eve/apple bit…

aplleI’m giving Disney a pass on this, because the movie was made in 1937. So, not a lot of feminist headway was being made.

 

Pinocchio
puppet
Erm. Ok, firstly, zexxy lady puppets. Right. Is the wooden cleavage really necessary?

 

The Blue Fairy.

fairy

She doesn’t have a name, and is very beautiful. Perhaps she is more described within the book? This is a common theme in fiction: good = pretty. This applies to men, as well. It’s an unrealistic, and archaic thought process that comes from the 19th century, when people thought that there was a correlation between good looks and morality. This is a damaging concept for everyone.

Because Pinocchio is lacking of female characters I’m going to focus on something else that bothers me about the film. Be warned, those who are still scarred from the donkey transforming scenes  –  avert your eyes!

Firstly, my issue is that the Blue Fairy promises Pinocchio that he will turn into a real boy if proves himself brave, truthful, and unselfish. So, at Pleasure Island, Pinocchio doesn’t stop his bad behavior because he has learned a moral lesson: he becomes afraid of the consequences when he sees his friend begin to turn into a donkey.

donkey

This seems like a cop-out on the morality lesson that Pinocchio is supposed to be learning, but I suppose the Blue Fairy isn’t actually there to help him in this instance. It seems unfair that the boys and Pinocchio are doing the exact same things, but Pinocchio escapes, and doesn’t return for them! I really wish that there was a sequel, so that Pinocchio and Gepetto are able to free all of the donkey boys.

pinocchio-donkeys

This is one of the only Disney movie where everything isn’t ‘solved’ at the end, and frankly, my heart can’t really handle whatever has happened to Alexander, and the other donkeys that could still talk.

Alexanderalexander

The Coachman: And what might your name be?
Alexander: Alexander.
The Coachman: So you can talk?
Alexander: Yes, sir. I wanna go home to my mama!
The Coachman: Take him back! He can still talk!
Alexander: [pleading with the other rejected donkeys] Please, please, I don’t wanna be a donkey! Let me outta here!
The Coachman: [cracks his whip] Quiet! You boys have had your fun. Now pay for it!

I can’t be the only one that thinks that this is one of the most upsetting scenes ever.

 

Fantasia
Firstly, why are there so many naked lady-types within this movie? I guess fairies are always female, and are unable to fashion themselves clothing of any kind.

fairy2

I always loved the centaur scenes when I was  kid, but now… these are clearly lady horses, because they are taking forever to get ready for their dates :/

Fantasia-disneyscreencaps.com-5867-1-

I’m also not OK with the idea that the ladies are the ones being pursued and presented, like they are at a cotillion.

Fantasia-disneyscreencaps.com-6072-1-

Also, the fact that they are all ‘paired up’ reaffirms the idea that someone’s appearance is the only thing that matters is a relationship.

fantgif

… Although, it would be really nice if it were this easy to spot your potential love.

I do really appreciate that the crocodiles like the hippos over the ostriches, though…

hippo1

Dumbo
This movie has some terrible qualities for some pretty obvious reasons.

jimA crow named “Jim Crow.” No big deal…

You know that old idiom of when a group of women gather, they are like a gang of clucking hens? Because women couldn’t possibly have anything of value to discuss amongst themselves, of course. This is picture of females portrayed within Dumbo, except they are a group of elephants and not human women (… or chickens). I did a quick search on the Disney Wiki page, and according to it, their names are: ‘Elephant matriarch,’ ‘Prissy,’ ‘Giddy,’ and ‘Catty.’

Cool. So, Disney isn’t trying to mask their intent on this one. Also, the meanest elephant, the matriarch, is the ugliest elephant, and has a deep voice. Again, the theme of the idea of femininity surrounds being beautiful.

Other than the group of elephants, there is not a female role. Dumbo’s mother is absent for most of the movie… possibly one of the most emotional Disney scenes of all time.

dumbo:*<

 

Alice in Wonderland
I love pretty much everything love everything about this movie, except for AGAIN, the Queen is mean, and therefore, must be ugly.

The-Queen-Of-Hearts-alice-in-wonderland-25961585-800-400

The King is so meek and tiny in size, compared to the Queen that it is ridiculous. To me, this means that there is no middle-ground for females within the Disney universe. Either they are kind and beautiful, or evil and ugly.

On a separate note, I really appreciate that unlike most Disney movies, Alice looks her age, and isn’t a perfect singer.

alice

Peter Pan
I didn’t actually own The Little Mermaid, which is probably my favorite Disney movie when I was growing up, so when I saw the mermaids in Peter Pan, I was excited to get a mermaid-y fix! I was so disappointed, even as a kid, that these girls were catty and mean to Wendy, and even then, I was annoyed that all of the girls that were in the movie had a crush on Peter.

mermaid

I never thought that he was cute, so I couldn’t see what lure he possessed to them. Maybe that he was the ‘leader,’ and that all of the other boys were like, eight years old? I’m not sure…

And Tiger Lily. Sigh. Peter Pan is probably the worst movie for females (and ethnic sensitivity). They already have one main female character, Wendy, so why bother developing another character, or even giving lines to another broad?

tigerlily

Tiger Lily seems to only exist within the movie to be rescued – her only partial line is “help.”

 

One Hundred and One Dalmatians

roger

Roger is such a delight, and is never included in any ‘Disney prince’ lists. I suppose he’s not technically a prince, but Roger…

genie(… You’ll always be a prince to me!)

… Onward!

Cruella’s character falls into the realm of demonic, as one might assume by her namesake. This tiresome theme, which is again that of ugly women must be ugly. Wouldn’t it be more interesting if a character was neutral-looking, and the audience had to determine for themselves if they were a villain or not? Wouldn’t it be more educational, and encourage children to develop more complex views on their world? Is this asking too much?

cruella“WELL, IS IT??”

Jungle Book
Ok, ok, the first book was written in 1893, so female empowerment is not going to be a huge theme within this movie. The girl singing at end of the movie (she doesn’t need a name) was always sad times for me. Mowgli thinks she’s pretty, which is good enough reason for him to follow her, and she sings a song that is still fairly accurate for many young women:

shanti

My own home, my own home….
Father’s hunting in the forest
Mother’s cooking in the home, I must go to fetch the water
‘Til the day that I’m grown
‘Til I’m grown, ’til I’m grown
I must go to fetch the water
‘Til the day that I’m grown
Then I will have a handsome husband
And a daughter of my own
And I’ll send her to fetch the water
I’ll be cooking in the home
Then I’ll send her to fetch the water
I’ll be cooking in the home

Aristocats

cat
Um. This is awkward.

Also, the mom cat is a hot lady cat, so of course she has to be refined and fancy (her name is Duchess… go figure.)

 

The Little Mermaid
I’ve read about a lot of different criticisms for this movie, because people think that Ariel changed herself simply to be with Eric. Were you people not paying attention to like, the first 20 minutes of the movie? She talks about how much she loves humans and wants to be A PART OF THEIR WORLD.

ariel(There is even a song about this!)

My criticisms for the movie is are that Ariel’s body are unrealistically proportioned. Her waist is ridiculous, and we are entering the era for when Disney got all… sexual.

ariel-on-rock1

Really, I think that Ariel’s sea shells could have been a little bit bigger. But, I suppose Disney wanted kids watching, and re-watching the movie, because of reasons that children wouldn’t understand yet. This is a creepy theory, I know, but it’s about to get creepier as we go along.

 

The Rescuers Down Under
No real complaints here. Bianca is a strong and independent character. Me likey.

As a child, I always thought that this movie was kind of intense, and I couldn’t really put my finger on why. Looking back, this is one of the only Disney movies that I ever saw to show real violence towards children.

cody

Also, because of the lacking-in-consequences movies that I was watching, I did NOT get that the animals that were trapped were going to be killed for their fur or skins. The scene where one animal is making fun of the other, because he will be turned into a purse when straight over my head.

rescuers-down-under-trapped-animalsOr, maybe I was just a dumb kid to not get that… who knows.

 

Finally! An awesome female that we can all get behind:

joanna

 

Beauty and the Beast
I love, LOVE the music in this movie, but unfortunately, that isn’t enough to stop me from complaining about a few things…

trips

So… Gaston turns down triplets for someone that doesn’t want him? They and Belle even look alike, other than their hairstyles. This makes no sense to me.

Also, I know that this has been discussed before, but Belle ‘fell in love’ with the Beast, or at least started to have feelings for him while she was being held prisoner. I don’t care if that is technically the definition of Stockholm syndrome, or not. Either way, this is not real love or friendship.

sothereSo there!

I think that Gaston only wanted Belle because she was a challenge. He doesn’t want the triplets, who were throwing themselves at him, and he’s mean to LeFou. In my perfect ending, Gaston would come back to the village after being beat by the Beast, and realize that LeFou has been his only friend throughout their lives, and they would end up together

gaston<3. Tee hee. The happy couple.

 

Aladdin
Ha. This movie is the epitome of inappropriately-sexual Disney for me.

jasmine

I’m not even going to comment on the size of Jasmine’s waist (except that I just did), because you all know that it is entirely too small.

This is not appropriate for children. Jasmine in a bikini, in chains? This scene was most likely the root for many people’s BDSM fantasies.

Also, Jasmine is a strong female character, and she still needs rescuing from Aladdin.

jasmine1

And yet, Aladdin can rescue himself from perilous situations throughout the movie…

imagesaladdinThis scene is cray.

 

The Lion King

shenzi

All right, here’s another leader that I can get behind.

Shenzi (centre) is the leader of the hyena pack, and is a female! She’s also voiced by Whoppi Goldberg, so that’s awesome. Also, Nala is a decently strong character. But AGAIN, everyone needs to be rescued by the prince. Huzzah for anthropomorphized monarchy.

Pocahontas
I think that Pocahontas is one of the only Disney movies where I can’t find fault in the female character. Maybe because it’s based on a true story, rather than male writers throughout history, who sat at their desks, twiddling their mustaches, worrying about the town blue-stocking. Haha, just kidding… kind of.  How and why does she learn to speak English so quickly, though?

Mulan
Mulan is based on a legend, so again, this story hasn’t come from natural storytelling of a writer within the entertainment industry. It seems like there is always a ‘catch’ for female roles: girls can’t just be there, a part of the group. They seem to fall on one side of extremism or the other.

The Emperor’s New Groove
I think that this is one of the funniest Disney movies everrr.

But, again, and older, mean women means ugly.

yzma

And this ugly woman is the butt of many jokes throughout the movie.

 

The Nightmare Before Christmas
This is… more or less a Disney movie.

sally
I love this movie, and Sally is a strong character.  But inevitably, she still needs rescuing…

 

And finally, it’s not Disney, but it is perhaps my most hated movie of all time that I didn’t even finish:

The Princess Bride
 Useless female alert 10: her name is Buttercup. Unless she was under some kind of spell to make her stupid (seriously didn’t finish the movie), she is the worst of the worst for me.

When I turned it off, the prince (or whoever he is) and her were in a forest, and these rats start to attack them. The guy asks her to pass him his sword while he is being attacked, and she couldn’t even manage that. Uh huuuh. Don’t even tell about me how funny/great/awesome you think that movie is.

On Why I Can’t Stand Chelsea Handler (‘s Comedy)

racism
So, I have never been a fan of Chelsea Handler’s brand of ‘comedy;’ I don’t find shock-value comedy entertaining, and call me old-fashioned, but I think that comedians should find witty, unexpected, or dare I suggest, intelligent ways to recite their anecdotes. I also need to find something relatable in someone’s character, something likeable in a performer for me to root for their success. I have watched and read several of Handler’s works, and have found her to be lacking in all of the areas previously described. Recently, I watched her racism episode on her new Netflix series, Chelsea Does, and my opinions of her changed from a mild discontentment in regards to her brand of humor, to a general dislike of Handler as a person.

The Chelsea Does episode failed in so many ways for me; comedy can be used to address racism and discrimination when used appropriately ; satire would be my first (and possibly only) choice. The episode involved segments of multiple, well-known comedians to discuss racism within stand-up comedy and within the entertainment industry itself. This is not done well; hardly any of the comedians has anything of substance to say. I feel like there is no ‘real’ dialogue happening; each comedian is ‘on,’ constantly trying to one-up each other with their witticisms and shock value comments. I guess the lure of potential capital from their exposure on Netflix was too enticing to pass up for these comedians; they treat the time that they have on-camera as if there were an invisible brick wall behind them.

Another segment within the episode involves Handler discussing her comedy with a panel of academics and media-related personnel. I get the feeling that Chelsea was quite nervous to participate with the group, with good reason. A discriminatory comment against the Asian community is soon brought up, and Chelsea begins to laugh her own joke that was made in the past. Her laugh seems forced to me, like she is overcompensating, and attempting to defend her work by proving to the panel that she should be given permission to make these comments, because of how hilarious they are. Handler is later told: “[s]tereotypes are created for a purpose. They don’t fall from the sky. They always are attached to a political agenda. It’s about certain groups being able to dominate other groups,” which should be enough for most to reevaluate their standards. The only response that Handler can come up with is that African-Americans are known for being well-endowed;  therefore, stereotypes can’t be all bad, then… right? Her dim-witted remarks about genitalia are answered thoughtfully, and with more patience than what I would have been able to muster. Chelsea still doesn’t get it. Her general defense of her work is that she makes fun of ‘every group,’ so it must be OK.

I am really, really done with this chowderhead.