Editor's Note: The House of Mouse

The House of Mouse

It's hard for an adult to believe in a concept as absurd as Happily Ever After, but Disney does its best to make you try.

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I never 'got' Disney, even as a youngster. Maybe the cultural significant is more of a US thing, or maybe it's down to me growing up in the 70s and early 80s, before VCRs became widespread and Disney's best known movies were rarely seen on the UK's (3) channels.

The cartoons that I did see were the golden age of Warner Bros - Bugs Bunny, Wile. E. Coyote, and the rest, and stuff like Tom & Jerry and Top Cat. They had speed, street smarts and truly epic violence - all the things that the rather stuffy and aloof Disney never did, in my eyes at least.

Susan Arendt:
Editor's Note: The House of Mouse

It's hard for an adult to believe in a concept as absurd as Happily Ever After, but Disney does its best to make you try.

Read Full Article

I've always found it interesting that Disney nearly always finds a way to kill off one or both parents. I imagine this is mostly to save a lot of animation work, rather than just for the "budget pathos" it earns the film.

The other common theme? No one is ever happy where they are, particularly princesses. Ariel wants to be human, and in the (awful awful) sequel? Her daughter wants to be a mermaid. Princess Jasmine pretends to be poor, Cinderella pretends to be rich. Of course, "rich" always wins in that "grass is always greener" type dichotomy...

But these are just cut corners resulting in inconsistencies in stories meant for children. It's interesting, but it doesn't really bother me. I think we could stand to de-emphasize "princess" as a life aspiration for our daughters, but that's not the fault of fairy tales.

I've always been far more bothered by Disney's live-action offerings. The messages they send to children, and the way in which their child stars are used (used up, more like it). This is far more noticeable with their young girls than with the boys, as the entertainment industry is far more forgiving for boys. These young girls learn very early on that talent is not enough--you've got to put on makeup, wigs, costumes, and be pretty to really shine!

(Sure, Selena Gomez sings about how you don't have to be perfect to be perfect... but is she really a spokeswoman for the "average" girl? That's about like Taylor Swift trying to commiserate with us lowly geeks and nerds in that awful "You Belong With Me" song. It just doesn't read as authentic.)

And then these undeniably talented young girls grow up hooked on the attention, which comes easy to a famous, pretty, talented young girl. And then they grow up. Being a talented 16-year-old is a big deal--it has that whole "beyond her years" appeal. But when she's an adult? She's just another face in the "grown-up artist" crowd.

And Disney abandons her. No longer does she have the steady supply of "princess juice" keeping her personal spotlight running. And she quickly realizes that "cute" doesn't do well in the grown-up world... and she falls back on what she really learned from Disney: when talent isn't enough, they have to like looking at you. So she gives them more to look at--both literally and figuratively--in order to keep the attention coming.

All the while, the audience that "grew up" with her has been following her. Watching her. Learning from her. Sure, their parents tell them that's not how the world really works, but look at this girl! She's got it all figured out, and she says all I have to do is believe in myself, wish upon a star, and no matter what, I'm going to come out on top! Who am I going to listen to in my heart of hearts--my parents, or this superstar?

Outside of the animation side of things, Disney is a horrible monster that feeds on the innocence of children and the ignorance of their parents (because what parent doesn't believe, "My child is different! She's going to really make it as a grown-up!"). So, keep yours eyes out as the Spears/Duff/Lohan/Hudgens/etc. list grows and grows...

(But Pixar has my number. Those bastards have gotten me crying twice before the movie even really got started--Nemo and Up. I hate how I love them.)

Dastardly:

Susan Arendt:
Editor's Note: The House of Mouse

It's hard for an adult to believe in a concept as absurd as Happily Ever After, but Disney does its best to make you try.

Read Full Article

I've always found it interesting that Disney nearly always finds a way to kill off one or both parents. I imagine this is mostly to save a lot of animation work, rather than just for the "budget pathos" it earns the film.

In a lot of stories, and myths, the hero character comes from a broken home or a home that isn't much of a home at all (or, rather, a home that doesn't have a traditional married, nuclear family mother-father dynamic). It's kind of this universal hero's journey thing. Certainly, not ALL heroic characters come from this kind of background, but many do. I think, though I'm not sure, that a lot of heroes in Greek myths came from one night stands with gods or were orphans or something. Superman was orphaned from Krypton and raised by people who weren't his biological parents; Wonder Woman only had one parent (and in the current storyline in her own comic, her mother was killed when Wonder Woman was a baby); Batman's parents were killed in front of him; Spider-Man was raised by his Aunt and not his biological parents; most of the X-Men were raised by Professor X in a school instead of by their parents; etc.

Disney just lost more magic for me, I just saw this:

<_> A person should face the real would as it is, mostly terrible.

: ) But, there is nothing wrong with being optimistic
at least every once in a while.
It would kill you not to be

beema:
Disney just lost more magic for me, I just saw this:

<_> Thats a little scary.....

Dastardly:
(But Pixar has my number. Those bastards have gotten me crying twice before the movie even really got started--Nemo and Up. I hate how I love them.)

Don't forget Wall-E!

Disney has a relatively small number of gems, but those that do stand out are ones that take a stereotypical tale and make it just unique enough that it becomes extraordinary. Like this little gem I was re-introduced to...

Hilton Collins:

Dastardly:

Susan Arendt:
Editor's Note: The House of Mouse

It's hard for an adult to believe in a concept as absurd as Happily Ever After, but Disney does its best to make you try.

Read Full Article

I've always found it interesting that Disney nearly always finds a way to kill off one or both parents. I imagine this is mostly to save a lot of animation work, rather than just for the "budget pathos" it earns the film.

In a lot of stories, and myths, the hero character comes from a broken home or a home that isn't much of a home at all (or, rather, a home that doesn't have a traditional married, nuclear family mother-father dynamic). It's kind of this universal hero's journey thing. Certainly, not ALL heroic characters come from this kind of background, but many do. I think, though I'm not sure, that a lot of heroes in Greek myths came from one night stands with gods or were orphans or something. Superman was orphaned from Krypton and raised by people who weren't his biological parents; Wonder Woman only had one parent (and in the current storyline in her own comic, her mother was killed when Wonder Woman was a baby); Batman's parents were killed in front of him; Spider-Man was raised by his Aunt and not his biological parents; most of the X-Men were raised by Professor X in a school instead of by their parents; etc.

Indeed, but this happens even in situations where a character isn't particularly called upon to be heroic. For Disney, I really think it's about not having to animate and write for another parent. This is, after all, the company that has saved probably millions of dollars by giving Mickey Mouse one less finger.

Even in many of the heroic examples you've mentioned, I think often this forced orphanhood is an economizing measure more than it is directly related to the story. Batman is an obvious exception, as the loss of his parents is integral to his character. But Spiderman? The loss of Uncle Ben is a defining moment, but why isn't it Dad Ben, y'know? (I think the reason is that it's easier to believe a teenage boy is moonlighting as a superhero underneath his aunt and uncle's noses, rather than his parents).

Same for the X-Men. Simply writing out the parents has the benefit of treating what are often kids as though they have the autonomy of adults, without having to occasionally try to keep backstory continuity straight.

It's hard for an adult to believe in a concept as absurd as Happily Ever After...

And yet, most religious people somehow still manage, don't they?

As for Disney, I have to compartmentalise their films (in which I usually find something to enjoy, at least from their animated features) and their business ethos and practices (which are frequently disturbing). It's a balancing act.

 

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