They can't think of their own ideas! They seem like pretty creative folks, and if they aren't they certainly have the money to hire them. Why are they rehashing fairy tales and other people's stories?
They change the story! As if unoriginality wasn't bad enough, they have to put the happy Disney ending on everything. When I protest that in Victor Hugo's Hunchback of Notre Dame Quasimodo actually dies of starvation while curled up on Esmerelda's corpse (so I hear), people usually tell me, "Well, Disney couldn't put that in the movie! It would scare little kids!" Know what? AGREED. That's why they shouldn't copy other people's stuff; if they want to make movies that end happily, they shouldn't remake TRAGEDIES. News: Actually, in the original fairy tale/book, Sleeping Beauty didn't just get a kiss from the prince, the prince actually raped her and got her pregnant . . . the Little Mermaid was turned into sea foam . . . Pocahontas was only a little girl (not a young woman) at the time of the events and her deeds might have even been fabricated by John Smith . . . Hera was not Hercules's mom, and she actually wanted to KILL him and tried many times to do so.
They always have at least one annoying non-human sidekick. Okay, I can accept that maybe this is a cute Disney trademark. Fine and good too. But it's so formulaic, you know? Have the annoying non-human sidekick get bashed around for comic relief, and have the sidekick say funny lines to keep the kiddies entertained. Also have this sidekick utter slightly off-color jokes to amuse the adults. Must have annoying mannerisms and look suspiciously like the voice actor/actress.
The female lead is always a soprano and the male lead is always a tenor. Granted, this is something often used in theatre productions and musicals and movies everywhere, but there are many exceptions in the real world of music. In Disney, I can't think of a single female heroine who's been an alto, nor a single hero with a nice low baritone or, God forbid, a bass. (I haven't seen all Disney flicks, so let me know if I've missed a new example.) Ariel, Snow White, Jasmine, Belle . . . all sopranos. Prince Eric, Prince Charming, Aladdin, Tarzan, and even Beast (when he sang) were tenors. On the other hand, we have Ursula the Sea Witch as a very notable evil alto, and we have multiple examples of baritone and bass Disney villains (Gaston, Jafar, Scar). Perhaps most people wouldn't care but I was at one time a music major so I care about these things.
The drawing styles of the different movies is so similar. No matter what the ethnicity and race of the characters, they just look like sisters and brothers. The heroes all have different colored hair and stuff, but they look the same, the Disney formula for hero. Disney princesses: Petite, long hair (with the exception of Snow White, I think), well-proportioned and trim, pretty, dainty, thin little eyebrows . . . and they talk so much alike too. Oh, and of course, villains are almost always ugly unless they're in disguise. Disney princesses' fathers are always short and rotund unless it is conflicting to be so (like with Ariel's dad, King Triton).
Regardless of place or time, the movies display Western values. Conformity is shunned and individualism is part of the "lesson." Strange how Ariel, Mulan, Pocahontas, and Belle all came from societies where they violated the norm . . . and were eventually rewarded for doing so.
Note: Since I've gotten some comments and questions about this particular item a lot lately, I'll clarify: I mean that the whole movie is set up in such a way that these characters' realities, oppressive though they might have been by our standards, were not as crazy as they sound to US. The standards of the time are framed by the movies in such a way that the Western values are viewed as "right" and the values of different societies are made out like they were unreasonable.
For instance, Gaston wanted Belle to marry him and have kids. That's what people thought women were primarily "for" back then. As abhorrent as that is for most of us now, that's what most women wanted for themselves back then too--it wasn't possible in that society to take care of yourself as a woman because you weren't given access to jobs or good pay most of the time, so you hoped someone would marry you and support you. Gaston was a jerk, but he was being portrayed as a jerk by today's standards rather than as, ya know, the normal way people thought in that society.
We admire these people's willingness to challenge the system--as well we should!--but I don't appreciate the way the societies they are challenging are made out to be a big mob of uneducated buffoons surrounding a persecuted soul whose morals and motives seem to have been imported directly to their brains from modern-day America despite the fact that they grew up in said society.
I can't say I don't enjoy watching their movies . . . heck, they're entertaining. Well-drawn. Exciting. Catchy. But they're wildly inconsistent, unoriginal and in some cases just plain annoying and inaccurate. I could go on and on about the mythical paradoxes in Hercules; it took place in Greece even though the Greek parallel was Herakles, Hercules was the Roman version, et cetera. I could talk for hours on the evils of rearranging the story; children will remember the Disney version as the "real" version and come out of it with warped versions of history (Pocahontas), literature (The Hunchback of Notre Dame), legend (The Lion King), and fairy tales (Snow White), et cetera. I could probably write a dissertation on the incorporation of messages and values into the films--Mulan, an ancient Chinese girl, breaking the Confucian Code of hierarchy and subordination valued in ancient Chinese culture, et cetera. You see I could go on and on. I won't, though, because my time (not to mention yours) is limited. Oh, and no, I haven't seen all of their movies . . . but I'm sure that if I do, I'll think of some reason to be annoyed. Disney never fails me there. :)
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Comments from others:
Mikey: ok well first I didn't know that Disney had so many changes in their stories and I must admit for the ones I did see I enjoyed. Guess you learn something new every day. And for the comment left by Taya I agree perhaps Disney should rethink what the consider the norm.
masterjedi: *The female lead is always a soprano and the male lead is always a tenor.* Granted, this is something often used in theatre productions and musicals and movies everywhere, but there are many exceptions in the real world of music. In Disney, I can't think of a single female heroine who's been an alto, nor a single hero with a nice low baritone or, God forbid, a bass. Ariel, Snow White, Jasmine, Belle . . . all sopranos. Prince Eric, Prince Charming, Aladdin, Tarzan, and even Beast (when he sang) were tenors. On the other hand, we have Ursula the Sea Witch as a very notable evil alto, and we have multiple examples of baritone and bass Disney villains (Gaston, Jafar, Scar). Perhaps most people wouldn't care but I was at one time a music major so I care about these things.
i agree. mostly all the heroic men are tenors(what are bass not good enough to play a 'hero'.anyway this was bugging me for awhile too so im glad i found this :)
Lucy: Don't get me wrong, i'm a fan of disney films & all, but i just hate the inaccurances & they're incapable of following through. for example: i watched Pocahontas the other day, i thought the message of peace was good & the story was interesting, the historical inaccuraces were quite irritating but otherwise okay. then i procceded to watch the sequal which i havent seen until yesterday & i was outraged. The historical aspet was even worse (which really got on my nerves this time) & the writers were completly different. The characters had a different personality completely & they turned characters like John Smith (who i liked from the first film) from a nice peacemaker into an arrogant imbasile. & then at the end Pocahontas goes off with some other guy she meets on a ship despite in the last film she was willing to die to save him & ran around proclaiming their love. It was ridiculous. Disney films always screw up sequals. This had the potential to be an accurate historical event told to children which they could have found a way to incorparate the truth without mentally scarring the kids, but instead they turned it into another inaccurate fairytale that disapointed me.
Sephiroth: I too have noticed the inconsistencies in Disney films and found them to be quite annoying especially with Pocahontas, and Hercules. Hercules was actually very unintelligent and given to fits of rage, brought on by Hera, where he killed his wife and children. If I remember correctly; it has been a long time since I took a mythology class. But that wouldn’t make for a good Disney role model I guess.
erin: "*Regardless of place or time, the movies display Western values.* Conformity is shunned and individualism is part of the "lesson." Strange how Ariel, Mulan, Pocahontas, and Belle all came from societies where they violated the norm . . . and were eventually rewarded for doing so."
Although I agree with most of the points in this rant, this one strikes me as a bit unfair. It's not so much Western values I see in Disney heroines like Mulan and Pocahontas as more universal themes like young people wanting to experience things on their own, needing to grow up, and resenting other people telling them how to think. This sorta thing doesn't strike me as a bad thing to impress on young girls, or boys for that matter.
Skiba: Hmm... a few points of this I do agree on. However, some things I don't quite see.
"No matter what the ethnicity and race of the characters, they just look like sisters and brothers. ... Disney princesses: Petite, long hair (with the exception of Snow White only, I think), well-proportioned and trim, pretty, dainty, thin little eyebrows..."
^ Some of the earlier princesses (Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Snow White) did have similar physical characteristics. But later on, Belle was the first to have wider eyes and a more outgoing personality. (Though she was met with Ariel later... I think. I don't know when the movies came out, exactly...) And though she's not a princess, Nani from Lilo and Stitch was Hawaiian and wasn't slim or petite.
"Oh, and of course, villains are almost always ugly unless they're in disguise."
^ Let's not discount the Queen from Snow White... until she was in disguise, she was actual quite a beautiful woman. When she became the old crone, THEN she was ugly. Maleficent kind of looks like her, but I've never seen Sleeping Beauty.
"*Regardless of place or time, the movies display Western values.* Conformity is shunned and individualism is part of the "lesson." Strange how Ariel, Mulan, Pocahontas, and Belle all came from societies where they violated the norm . . . and were eventually rewarded for doing so."
Ariel was from the fictional Atlantis, so they don't necessarily reflect Western values. The situation is unique because she's a mermaid who wants to walk with human beings, akin to a human who wants to live with animals... no matter where, it's usually shunned. I never got to see The Little Mermaid in full, so I don't recall how it ends... // I think Mulan's story is true, or is at least based, if loosely, on a true story. // Pocahontas did defy her father in letting John Smith live, but there are too many liberties taken with the story, so it's almost an original one. // Technically, Belle was rewarded, but not by the close-minded people in her town--by higher class, educated people like Beast himself who respected the knowledge she possessed.
Lastly, how is The Lion King a warped legend? I don't recall it being based on any true historical accounts or fairy tales, as it's based on Kimba the White Lion, and Hamlet, which are both fiction. It's my all-time favorite movie, and it's the first original Disney movie that ever came out (in a way, as it relies heavily on those two subjects). But it isn't based off of true stories. Also, the characters, being entirely nonhuman, do not look like typical princesses, and manage to look different from each other despite many of them being lions. (Hell, I think it got me started on thinking lions are cute... Simba's actually kind of attractive. <_<;;;)
However, all the rest of what you said holds entirely true. :D
Marintha: This may be a little off topic, but have you ever looked back and WATCHED your old favorite disney movies? I always loved the Lion King but I watched it a while ago and realized Simba was a spoiled little BRAT who deserved to be hit with a stick. And that Scar was scary/awesome. O.o (I love his music number)
I don't think some of you understand what she's saying... About the western mabob. I think she means the fact that if some of the movies were actual situations it wouldn't have worked out the way they did. Like Mulan wouldn't have been welcomed as a hero. She would've been married off to the next poor man to walk by OR killed. And her family, yea. Probably killed too. China was not happy, accepting bubble-land like in the movie.
And the princesses all DO look and act the same. (mostly act) The only time the princesses really made me smile was in the Aladdin series where Jasmine turned evil. (Attacked the castle, wore all black, whip in hand, complete dominatrix redo, she was scary to be truthful. O.o)
Someday, I've gotta learn how to not turn these comments into paragraphs.... x.x
Dove the Unoriginal: Actually, in response to a prior comment, the first original story from Disney was Lady and the Tramp. It's one of the few that wasn't based on anything else. I don't personally count the Lion King because Kimba the White Lion is older and very similar. I still think the Lion King is good. I'm just saying there isn't any way Disney wasn't influenced by that at least a little.
Then comes Lilo & Stitch. Atlantis may have been inspired by a few other anime series/movies, so I don't know if one can count it or not. I guess then there's Home on the Range and Brother Bear too. (I have seen neither and don't know if those were based on a book or anything.) And some of the Pixar films, if you are including Pixar's earlier work.
But overall, I agree with SwankIvy in general. Especially since, recently, Disney seems to have gotten worse with some of the movie ideas (or at least, less interesting to me.)
I especially feel for the person who commented about their daughter being upset. I guess the best you can hope for in the meantime is to show her Pocahontas, Jasmine, and Kida. And since they technically count Tinkerbell as a princess, check out the new books about the Disney fairies. (I know a fairy isn't the same thing at all but they do have one with brown skin and black hair, starring in her own book. It might help a tiny bit.)
And of course, there's always Lilo. She's not a princess but she's pretty darn cool. :) Still doesn't solve the problem, I realize, but it will probably be awhile before they take on another fairytale or folktale that doesn't involve a European princess.
Here's to hoping Disney will become an innovator again, so they can tell some hopefully unique stories and make them heartfelt.
reeny: EEEEK! You know in my latest package to you I put in some Pocahontas stuff by mistake... I'll tell you why: out of a stupid brain lapse I thought you liked Pocahontas but then again maybe you do *kinda* like her/the movie from reading the bottom of this rant.
Well you can always pass it on to someone else huh? ;)
Heh. Okay that's it. Sorry about that.
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