Monday, June 29, 2009

The New (and improved) Disney Movies

How may of us love being whisked away to the magical world of Disney? Whether we are merrily skipping around Disneyland or simply watching Beauty & The Beast, none of us can deny the happiness that Disney can instill.

However, I’ve noticed that many of their popular films depict women as the “damsel in distress.” Snow White, Cinderella, The Little Mermaid, and Sleeping Beauty show young women who need the help of a man in order to achieve their dreams. Interestingly, all of these movies are older than some of the more feminist movies Disney has released recently. Yes, feminist movies!

In Pocahontas, we are shown a Native American woman who shows the beauty of nature to John Smith. She is not depicted as a helpless girl who needs a man; rather she is an individual who chooses to be with John Smith. I think this is a very positive movie for young girls to see, but it is not my favorite.

There are critiques of Pocahontas, and most are regarding the portrayal of Native Americans. There is a song "savages" that is played during the film, which speaks for itself. Along with this, the tribe to which Pocahontas belongs to captures John Smith and is shown to be brutal and unforgiving. Clearly, there is some room to improve.

My favorite feminist Disney movie is none other than Mulan.

Mulan has to be the best movie in that it speaks to what we, as feminists, want to see in a children's film. In Mulan, a young Chinese woman is faced with a difficult situation; at the time the movie is set, women were not allowed to join the Chinese military. However, she feels it is her responsibility to protect her family and fight for her country. Thus, she disguises herself as a man and proves to be stronger than her male counterparts. Eventually she is able to defeat the enemy Huns and show all of China that a woman can also be a warrior.

Doesn't this send a better message than Snow White? I think it is crucial that young women are watching movies that inspire them rather than motivate them to find their "Prince Charming."

Although Pocahontas and Mulan are great movies that show women as real women, it is only a small feat for Disney. I think they need to continue making movies such as these, and never revert back to the days of Cinderella or Snow White. Female characters that display confidence and a willingness to lead will help to positively effect the younger generation and ensure a happily ever after.

1 comment:

sgodoy said...

Great critique of Disney movies.

I also want to point out that Mulan joined the war to protect her father. Since there were no sons in the family he was drafted. This is an interesting reversal of roles; usually we see the father protecting the daughter but in this way the family is dependent on a strong female figure.