When Disney Teaches Us to Uphold Death more than Justice or Mercy

I love Disney movies. They’re a nostalgic staple of my childhood, but like almost everything, when viewed from an adult perspective, they are far from perfect. One worrying trend that I see in childhood films is the idea that death is the same thing as justice. Disney is hardly the only company at fault for doing this, and this trope does show up in media designed for older audiences as well. But my experience with Disney was really the first time I was exposed to the idea that villains deserve to die awful horrible deaths. Even if the heroes initially want to show their villains mercy, the mercy will be misplaced, and very rarely will actual justice be done.

This of course begs the question: do villainous characters truly deserve to die, especially in such awful, violent, and painful ways?

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I Sure Did Watch the Pete’s Dragon Remake

Petes Dragon Remake PosterWell, this movie was… nowhere near as bad as I thought it would be, especially considering how bad the trailers were. Overall, the remake has gotten a lot of favorable reviews and ratings, and while I can see where those opinions come from, I wasn’t exactly blown away by the story. On the whole, I’d say that the remake is cute and harmless, and it’s most certainly not a carbon copy of the original. The plot isn’t half-bad either, but the story is just so derivative that you’d be better off spending your time watching something else, like Ghostbusters.

Spoilers up ahead.

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Oh, My Pop Culture Religion: When Christian Fairy Tales Aren’t So Christian

disney sleeping beauty

Sleeping Beauty is one of those popular fairy tales that’s just a little bit embarrassing. Early last year I took a feminist look at the Disney Princess lineup, and Sleeping Beauty came up pretty much dead last when it comes to empowering feminist messages. Its leading lady could be replaced by a sexy lamp and you’d still have the same story, even if you have a whole lot more female supporting characters (and a female villain!) than in the typical Disney film. At least back then Disney wasn’t afraid of naming their movies with female leads after those leads (I’m looking at you, Tangled and Frozen). Disney’s Aurora is a pretty good example of the pure virgin power trope, in that Aurora’s worth comes from her goodness, which we assume to be true because of her status as the most maiden-like maiden to ever maiden. You’d think this is another result of prudish Christians enforcing gender stereotypes and shaming women into keeping their legs closed, but the real origins of the folk tale are far more interesting and far more pagan.

Trigger warning for rape and suicide after the jump.

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Magical Mondays: Beauty and the Beast & Magic and Morality

In fairy tales, magic is often used as if it’s a force of nature’s divine justice. Even if no god figure is connected to a magical world, magic tends to act as the deus ex machina, doling out punishments and blessings where needed. But sometimes I question the morality of this mysterious magical force and the judgements it gives out.

The new Beauty and the Beast live action movie has everyone hyped, and so I decided to rewatch the original animated movie. In doing so, I noticed something disturbing: the Enchantress that punishes the Beast seems like a judgmental dick!

The Enchatress Beauty and the Beast Continue reading

Throwback Thursdays: Gargoyles

As adults, I think most of us have come to accept that the shows we loved as kids were maybe not as perfect as the haze of nostalgia made them seem. The nature of kids’ shows is that they tend to be pretty clumsy with their metaphors, absolutist with their portrayals of good and evil, and hesitant to address any concepts that are too “complex.” My last Throwback Thursday looked a 90’s show that was virtually unwatchable, even for nostalgia’s sake: a bland, shallow, under-developed money grab, cruising along on the wakes of better action cartoons of the era. All the way at the other end of the watchability scale is the show Gargoyles, a childhood favorite of mine that has more than stood the test of time. If you ignore the third season and forgive the bad Scottish accents, Gargoyles was about as perfect as a cartoon of its era could possibly be. It thrived on tough subjects and determinedly defied convention to make a truly exceptional show.

Gargoyles cartoon animated

Muffled rap music plays in the background.

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Trailer Tuesdays: Beauty and the Beast Teaser Trailer

Disney has recently been remaking some of their classic movies as live action movies. First, we had Maleficent, which was a remake of Sleeping Beauty from the villain’s perspective. Then there are Cinderella and Jungle Book, which, unlike Maleficent, seem to be more or less pretty straightforward retellings of the animated moviesthough I presume Jungle Book had a little more going on since there was very little story in the animated movie. (I haven’t seen it yet.) Then there is Pete’s Dragon, which looks to be a dark retelling of the Disney movie. And now, there is Beauty and the Beast.

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Throwback Thursdays: Bedknobs and Broomsticks

EglantineDuring my recent Disney marathon, I came across several of my favorite Disney movies that are not as well known. At least, I don’t think they are. While my husband seemed to only vaguely remember watching Bedknobs and Broomsticks with his grandmother, I had very vivid memories of the movie and was excited to watch it again. I remember my mother had recorded it on a VHS that I watched frequently, and it is one of the movies that made me obsessed with witches as a kid long before Harry Potter came around. While re-watching it, I was extremely nervous that the movie would be nowhere near as good as I remembered, but thankfully, while it had a lot more problematic elements than I noticed as a kid, it definitely has held up over time.

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The Lion King and Racism

Hyenas Lion King racismSo my husband and I have been continuing our Disney marathon, and while we were watching I discovered something: The Lion King actually has a lot of racist themes, especially in regards to the hyenas. I think some people tend to not think of the movie as racist because it is set in Africa and launched a successful musical that features a huge cast of Black actorswhich are all great things on their own. I love the musical and I still love the Lion King movie, but the movie actually has a ton of issues from casting to racial coding.

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Magical Mondays: The Little Mermaid & Magic

Ursula & Triton

The Little Mermaid isn’t exactly one of my favorite movies. It has great music, but the story and characters are really lacking in a lot of places. It was only during a recent rewatch of the movie that I realized that the magic in the movie is really unclear and ultimately ends up making the whole movie confusing.

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