Monthly Archives: January 2015

10 Reasons The Lion King Kicks Ass

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I’m going to watch The Lion King on Broadway for the second time tomorrow and thought it would be a good time to write another TLK meta. Without further ado, here are ten reasons The Lion King kicks ass.

1) Grief. Look, Mufasa’s death broke all our hearts. I cry buckets up to this day. But Mufasa’s death leaves a deep scar (hehe) for Simba and his grief is SO important to his character arc. Many characters in Disney movies lose a parent (or both) but The Lion King may be the only one pre Big Hero Six where we actually see the mark it leaves and watch the character have to make peace with it in a healthy way.

lion king run from past or to it

Enjoy Rafiki Mourns from the Broadway show:

2) Segregation. The lions and hyenas live apart and that tension between them boils over when the hyenas help stage a coup d’etat. The conflict is great symbolism for current issues still going on today.

Slightly off-topic, Starkid did a musical called Twisted that tells Aladdin from Jafar’s POV. Towards the end of the show, there’s a song that features all the Disney villains and their POVs. Scar has his own solo:

The pride had never seen a more progressive king than me

Both lion and hyena lived in perfect harmony

I brought an end to what had been a senseless age old feud

I was prepared for anything except for what ensued: my brother ate my heirs, my precious cubs, and stole my throne

Return to segregation and the hateful ways we’d known

Though I’d advocate for unity I always was denounced, so when I saw an opportunity to right the wrong, I pounced  

2:27

3) Badass Lionesses Taking No Shit. Everyone knows that the female lion is the one that gets stuff done. Here we have Nala and Sarabi. Nala is just as adventurous as Simba, but she matures way before he does. Nala is the one that leaves home to find help while Scar destroys The Pride Lands. Nala is fearless. Meanwhile, Sarabi still retains some level of power in Scar’s new regime since we get a scene of him relying on her for information: “Where is your hunting party?” Sarabi is in charge of all the other lionesses.

lion king queen sarabi

4) Domestic Abuse. Scar and Sarabi are not married, though it is implied. But right now, I can’t think of another Disney movie that shows us domestic abuse. When Sarabi challenges Scar, he hits her and that mistreatment spurs Simba into action. We don’t know if this was a single event or if Scar had been abusing her since the moment he took power. Regardless, once is all that matters.

5) The Circle of Life. The Lion King has some amazing music, make no mistake about that. But there’s something so beautiful about the opening song. It perfectly sums up the movie. Mufasa’s death, even though it came too soon, would have come eventually. That’s how life works. People live and people die. People are born and people grow. And even among animals, there is a hierarchy, as Mufasa points out in his ramble about the antelope and the grass and the great Circle of Life.

6) Friendship Before Romance. Nala and Simba grew up together as best friends. Their relationship might be one of the most developed out of all Disney couples, human or animal. Disney’s gotten criticism for sending this message of Instant Love or Princesses Waiting for Princes. The Lion King’s love story begins with friendship.

lion king cuties

7) Friendship. Timon and Pumba are important side characters. They are two of the most fleshed out friends in any Disney film. Think about it: Aladdin has Carpet and Abu, who really have no plot line. Ariel has Flounder, Sebesatian, and Scuttle, that also are minor characters. Aurora had no friends except the fairies and her woodland creatures. Timon and Pumba have something to overcome, just like Simba. They felt like the wolrd had turned its back on them, as Timon says.

lion king turn your back on the world

Hakuna Matata was their way of life. But when Simba needs them, when they are challenged, at first they can’t let go. But they do, to save their friend.

lion king simba timon pumba

8) Responsibility. Neither Simba nor Scar know what it means to be a king. The difference is, Simba learns. Simba goes from his “I Just Can’t Wait to be King” phase of bossing people around to becoming a true leader.

lion king simba brat lion can't wait to be king

9) Imagery. The Lion King is really good at telling us what is going on without words. The Pride Lands are lush and in bloom when Mufasa is the king. But when Scar usurps the throne, the land is barren, dark, dying. Similarly, the Elephant Graveyard has a gloomy feel to it, right away alerting the audience to the fact that we should not be here.

10) Badass Hyena Leader Taking No Shit. Shenzi, like Scar, is surrounded by idiots. Shenzi, like the lionesses, is really the one in control. The sass is strong with this one. I love how The Lion King took typical human gender roles how male dominance and chose animals that really rely on the females for strength.

If you want to read more Lion King metas, there’s one about its connections to Hamlet and another one about Scar’s song Be Prepared.

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Cheers!

M&M

 

Sidekick Envy: Analyzing Tucker Foley in “What You Want”

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I’ve wanted to write about Danny Phantom for a while now. And since I’ve been rewatching season 1 for fun, I thought it would be interesting to tackle one of my favorite early episodes: episode 6, What You Want. This episode is one of my favorites because it tackles envy and jealousy in a really interesting way, and more interestingly, we get to see the episode through the lens of the hero’s sidekick, Tucker, rather than the hero himself, Danny.

dp waste these good looksdp criminal

Before we dive into analyzing Tucker and his jealousy though, let’s talk about that episode title, and how it pertains to Tucker as a character. Danny Phantom has a habit of relating episode titles to characters or events. For example, Million Dollar Ghost is about a million dollar bounty on Danny’s head, and pertains to both him and the plot of the episode. My Brother’s Keeper, the Jazz-centric episode of season 1, obviously pertains to Jazz, and her being “her brother’s keeper”, which starts with her trying to keep an eye on Danny, and ends with her being his secret keeper.

What You Want ties into Tucker’s wants and desires. Tucker is sick of being the sidekick; he wants to be the one who gets to have cool ghost powers and fly around and do awesome things. He views Danny’s powers in a very positive light, mainly because he doesn’t have to deal with the consequences of them. The episode’s antagonist, Desiree, takes advantage of that and grants his wish to have ghost powers – but at a high cost. It’s interesting, because Desiree’s own back-story ties into envy: she was a harem girl who was promised her heart’s desires by a sultan, only to be banished by his jealous wife. When she died, she started granting people’s desires, but as a great personal cost: probably revenge for the fact that she never really got what she wanted. A lot of Danny’s villains foil him in some way, but Desiree actually foils Tucker here: they’ve both felt victimized and ignored, envious of something they feel that they deserve. And Tucker almost ends up consumed by his envy, just like Desiree.

So let’s take a look at where Tucker starts in this episode, and how his struggle with his envy nearly destroys him in the end.

The Dark Side of Envy
Tucker’s always been an interesting character to me, because he has remarkably high self-esteem. After all, at the beginning of the episode, he quite proudly tells us that he has “charm, good looks, and modesty”. He thinks highly of himself, and even as girls reject him or people tease him, he lets it roll right off his shoulders and doesn’t let it get to him. It’s a nice change to see a character that isn’t drowning in self-esteem, or worried about his self-worth, especially in contrast to Danny, who has an extreme lack of self-esteem. Tucker’s envy of Danny’s ghost powers adds an interesting facet to his character, because part of what empowers Danny as a character is his ghost powers. They’re what allow him to stand up for himself and protect others. Having someone as smug as Tucker obtaining ghost powers…well, it’s a bit of a disaster waiting to happen.

dp smug tucker

What You Want opens with Tucker’s narration. The first time we notice a waver in his narration is when he admits that he and Danny share everything “except one thing. Danny’s got superpowers.” It’s hard to tell in-story that Tucker is bothered, because he’s more worried about the chaos at the time, but his tone in the narration is a bit flat and shows the start of his envy. Afterwards, he remarks on one of Danny’s new powers: “Man, that’s the cool thing about your powers. There’s no downside.” To him, Danny’s powers are cool: he doesn’t think about the negative aspects Danny himself deals with, because Tucker has never had to deal with that.

Each one of the wishes Desiree grants gives some nice foreshadowing for what ends up happening to Tucker later on in the episode. We had the cotton candy incident at the start, which showed that Desiree goes out of her way to torment people with her wishes (aka, drowning people in cotton candy is pretty extreme). Then there’s Dash – the Flash Thompson of the story – at a football game, who wishes that “[he] could get turned into the kind of monster that could crush these guys single-handed”. His wish is granted, but Dash ends up literally becoming a ghostly monster that Danny has to stop. This shows us that Desiree doesn’t mind being literal in her wish-granting. And when Tucker offers to help, he winds up filling in as mascot to cover for Danny, which leads to him getting beat up by jocks. The resentment grows. “Man, every time Danny goes ghost, I get the short end of the stick,” he complains. He doesn’t get to do the fun parts, like fighting ghosts or capturing them and being the hero. Instead, he covers for his friend and gets beat up. Definitely the short end of the stick for Tucker.
There’s also the Paulina incident, in which she wishes to be more popular, like a movie character, which in an interesting way, ties into Tucker’s wish. Both wishes are directly tied to envy, and it’s the fallout of Paulina’s wish that leads to Tucker sitting in the theater by himself, feeling lonely.

“I’m tired of being left out all the time,” he grumbles. His wish isn’t only tied to envy, it’s also tied to loneliness. He wishes he could be doing the cool things his best friend does with him. “Man, I wish I had ghost powers too.”

And oh boy, does he get them. But you know what they say: be careful what you wish for. Tucker’s new-found ghost powers are cool, but unlike Danny, he doesn’t really understand the gravity of them, and he’d prefer to play around with them instead of doing something responsible, like, oh, I don’t know, saving the world. He pranks people in the theater, laughing over their reactions. Basically, he acts like an average immature teenage boy would after getting superpowers. But when an opportunity does come in to save the day, he pops in, hoping to impress Danny, and tells him he’ll handle it.

It’s when Danny steps in to save the day that Tucker first vocalizes his envy. “Oh sure, phase the car through the building. You had to save the day, didn’t you?” and “You’re just jealous, because there’s someone else to grab the spotlight now.”

Danny’s bewildered reaction adds an interesting facet to the story. It’s a Harry/Ron situation, where one character gets a lot of notoriety and the other is jealous, but the character getting the attention doesn’t really understand why their friend is jealous. Danny’s never really gotten much good public reception, and considering all the downsides that come with his ghost fighting, he doesn’t understand why Tucker would be envious, or even want his spotlight in the first place. Danny never fought ghosts for the attention: he always did it to protect people. The fact that Tucker thinks of him that way says a lot about who Tucker is as a character, and how his envy is blinding his judgment. It’s very true to life: when we’re envious, we often don’t see another person’s struggles. We only see the good parts and wish that we had that. When Tucker gets the powers, he doesn’t see the downsides at first: he just wants to use them for his own fun, like pranking teachers, getting to the front of the lunch line, and boosting his popularity. And when Danny intervenes, Tucker sees it as Danny trying to ruin his fun. Why does Danny get to have all of the fun with his ghost power? Why can’t Tucker do that too? His envy doesn’t allow him to see that Danny is worried about his shifting personality, and the fact that his fun has turned mean-spirited.

It’s during Danny’s confrontation with Desiree that Danny understands what we the audience already knows the depth of Tucker’s envy. “He’s not that jealous…is he?” he asks, for a minute unsure. It’s here where Danny starts to understand Tucker, and his side of the story.

“More than you know,” Desiree responds; “his jealousy and frustration will cement into rage and rebellion.” That transformation is what leads to the Tucker/Danny fight near the end of the episode. Tucker at this point has let his ego and jealousy take over him, to the point where he wants to get rid of Danny. Pretty drastic change from the Tucker we meet at the start of the episode, the one who calls Danny his best friend since forever and speaks of him so warmly. When Danny manages to separate Tucker from his ghost self, Tucker’s even taken aback by what he became.

dp is that me 1dp is that me 2

“Is that me?” he asks, his voice shaky as he stares up at the growling monstrous Tucker-ghost.

He ends up apologizing to Danny, admitting he couldn’t control himself, literally: his jealousy and envy took control of him. There’s some especially dialogue when they come to terms with what happened: Tucker admits this wouldn’t have happened if he hadn’t been jealous, and Danny admits that him showing off around Tucker didn’t help matters. Here, we have two friends coming to an understanding now that they’ve seen each other’s perspective, and get why each friend felt the way that they did. Tucker realizes that ghost powers aren’t always the best thing, and that his jealousy was blinding him to Danny’s struggles, while Danny realizes the depths of his friend’s envy, and that he triggered it a bit with his showing off. The episode has a fantastic view on envy, and how it can literally consume a person if they let it. In the end, Tucker is left humbled and with a stronger understanding of Danny as a character – and vice versa, because Danny understands Tucker and his inner workings. Tucker’s lens adds some great perspective to his character, and as the episode ends, we can all walk away with a bit more appreciation for Tucker Foley and his own struggles.

dp danny and tuck share everything even colds

Happy Tuesday! You can follow Animated Meta on Tumblr and Twitter. Screen-caps were taken from: http://dannyphantomscreencaps.weebly.com/what-you-want.html

Cheers,

M&M

The Music of: Mulan

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The last time I talked about Mulan, it was in the context of my People of Color in Animation meta. Today I went to delve into Mulan a bit more and shift the focus to its amazing music. The music of Mulan exemplifies the gender roles and key conflicts of the film. And it’s freaking awesome, okay? I know every lyric.

Honor to us All

This song is so disturbing, I can’t even. Okay, so this is the film’s big opening number and the gender roles are out of control. We all know how this sequence goes, Mulan shows up late and there’s an amusing make-over scene and she gets a cricket and then the women parade to the matchmaker and all hell breaks loose.

The second verse of this song is where I want to start:

We’ll have you washed and dried
Primped and polished
till you glow with pride
Trust me recipe for instant bride
You’ll bring honor to us all

Lets start with what is supposed to give women pride: their looks. As the sequence shows us, Mulan’s face is powdered, her lips painted red, her waist squeezed and that’s really all she’s there for. But more so, she should not feel proud of her looks to boost her self-confidence, but rather so she can snatch up a man and become a wife. Instant bride is what’s promised to the prettiest woman. She’s nothing more than a pretty trophy for the man.

Boys will gladly go to war for you
With good fortune
And a great hairdo
You’ll bring honor to us all

These lines continue to put the emphasis on the physical. Boys will only go to war for you if you make them weak in the knees with your pretty physique. Never mind having ideas and opinions or a kind heart. None of those are valuable.

However, I do love that the writing in that verse kind of foreshadows A Girl Worth Fighting For and the even more pressing gender roles there, but that is songs away, so back to Honor.

So much is placed on the woman to be beautiful and bring honor to her family. The fate of the family rests on her shoulders and at first glance it doesn’t seem like she’s being asked to do anything strenuous or hard. But so much pressure is heaped upon women to look a certain way and meet man-made standards. The phrase “Beauty is pain?” Um, yeah, it is.

Next, the song fleshes out that there is a bit more than beauty to go along with striking a good match:

Men want girls with good taste
Calm
Obedient
Who work fast-paced
With good breeding
And a tiny waist
You’ll bring honor to us all

“Tiny waist” ties right back into beauty and is so damaging to a girl’s sense of worth and esteem, but we get the words calm, obedient, good work ethic, and breeding. Lets break each of those down.

Reading between the lines, calm probably means a woman is not allowed to challenge her husband. She cannot have differing opinions and she definitely can’t voice them. She can’t raise her voice for any reason, she can’t be angry, she can’t be sad, she must always be calm and collected. Obedient for sure relates to her having the opinions. She must listen to her husband at all times. It’s like she has no free will. “Work fast-paced” to get all cooking, cleaning, and childcare duties done in a timely fashion. Oh, man, good breeding just gets me, though. Wrap that all up and women exist to be pretty, clean the house, cook, reproduce, and not have one original thought.

Gender roles are bad enough today and we’re already better off compared to our ancestors and even other parts of the world. But this idea, especially the pretty facet, resonates so strongly even today.

We all must serve our Emperor
Who guards us from the Huns
A man by bearing arms
A girl by bearing sons

This is just great, though. I never noticed this part as a kid. It’s sung really high and in the background of Mulan racing to join the others, so my attention was always elsewhere. Even if I had noticed, though, the gravity wouldn’t have registered for me. But man, this just makes everything so clear. Mulan has one role and it is to have a son that can go off to war and protect his country and then he needs to marry a beautiful woman who can bear more sons and the cycle goes on and on. There are gender roles for both sexes: men must be warriors and women must be reproductively fit. But that’s SUCH a double standard because reproduction is literally 50/50 and yet women were mostly the ones who got all the shit if a couple had a difficulty conceiving. This was because the science wasn’t really understood but it doesn’t change the fact that women were made scapegoats the moment the opportunity presented itself.

When we’re through
You can’t fail
Like a lotus blossom
Soft and pale
How could any fellow
Say “No Sale”
You’ll bring honor to us all

Here’s another verse I never understood as a kid. No sale. NO SALE.

Women were reduced to a commodity. Something men could buy—like they were looking for the newest car model. No one was buying cars in Mulan’s time, but that’s essentially it. You want a car that works fast paced, one that is obedient (ie the radio works, windshield wipers turn on when you turn them on), a sexy car.

And finally, finally, we hear from our heroine:

Ancestors
Hear my plea
Help me not to make a
fool of me
And to not uproot
my family tree
Keep my father standing tall

Mulan’s focus is on pleasing her family. She plays her part because she loves them and she’s so scared of disappointing/failing them. All she wants is for this day to not end horribly. Spoiler alert: it does.

Scarier than the undertaker
We are meeting our matchmaker
Destiny
Guard our girls
And our future
as it fast unfurls
Please look kindly on
these cultured pearls
Each a perfect porcelain doll

As we reach the end of the song, Honor to Us All finally uses the word it has artfully avoided until now: doll.

Ibsen’s play “A Doll’s House” is all about a woman trapped in a marriage that adheres to strict gender roles. She is treated like a doll and their home is her her husband’s doll house where he gets to manipulate every scenario. Mulan and all women of this time were treated no better than dolls. They were expected to have no minds and be pretty accessories that bore children and nothing else. But this is not the story we watch. Instead, Mulan bucks against these gender roles. She has nothing against marriage and neither do I or Disney. What Disney seeks to show us how wrong GENDER ROLES are. This is not about marriage. Marriage is fantastic when done out of love and by two willing parties. But Honor to Us All is not about a woman meeting her soul mate. It is about her conforming to a patriarchy and submitting. Mulan does not submit.

Reflection

This song is so amazing and totally flies in the face of Honor and all its harsh gender roles. This song is Mulan’s response, Mulan’s inner conflict. She is torn between what everyone expects her to be and who she is and who she wants to be.

I will never pass for a perfect bride, or a perfect daughter.
Can it be,
I’m not meant to play this part?

Part. Gender role. She knows she doesn’t get a choice in what she does with the rest of her life, but she doesn’t know if she’ll be able to do it. She is a daughter and she’s supposed to become a bride and Mulan feels like she’s already failing one and she’ll most probably fail the next one.

Now I see, that if I were truly to be myself, I would break my family’s heart.
Who is that girl I see, staring straight, back at me?
Why is my reflection someone I don’t know?

She’s so disappointed in herself. All she wanted was to please her family, even if it meant not being true to herself, and she failed. This song is for anyone that as ever felt alone and like they could not be their true selves.

Somehow I cannot hide, who I am, though I’ve tried.
When will my reflection show, who I am inside?

This song is beautiful. It is an anthem against gender roles, about looking in the mirror and seeing yourself and being happy. It is Mulan’s I Want song because she wants to make her family proud, she doesn’t know how. She wants to be herself, she just doesn’t know how. This is Mulan’s quest, her character arc, and it comes full circle (a really great message by Disney, really, to fight for your right to be yourself).

I’ll Make a Man Out of You

The epic training montage! Obligatory, really. But, okay, here we go!

Did they send me daughters
When I asked for sons?

Right away, it values men over women. Worse, it uses “daughters” as an insult. It’s akin to saying, “Crying like a girl,” “Running like a girl,” and all the other phrases that make being a girl an insult.

But you can bet
Before we’re through
Mister, I’ll make a man
out of you

That implies that already physically men are not, in fact, real men. And that baffles me so much. It’s still a thing we say today: Be a man, grow some balls, man up, don’t be a pussy, etc. Let me tell you something world, if you have a penis, you are already a man. This, of course, does not go for people with male body parts that do not identify as male. But for people that have a penis and identify as male, they don’t need to BE a man, because they ARE men.

I’m never gonna catch
my breath
Say goodbye to those
who knew me
Boy, was I a fool in school
for cutting gym

I really liked how we saw guys struggling with the training, too, and not just Mulan. It really shows that they’re not training to be MEN, they’re training to be SOLDIERS—something not inherently masculine, though it is treated that way.

(To Be a man)
We must be swift as
the coursing river
(Be a man)
With all the force
of a great typhoon
( To Be a man)
With all the strength
of a raging fire
Mysterious as the
dark side of the moon

Just like we saw what makes a good wife, we also see what makes a man. I like that we get both sides of the gender roles. Most of them all relate to how to be a good fighter: fast, strong, more strength, and someone mysterious. Looking at the war aspect of Mulan, it could mean someone that can be stealthy and covert, maybe even go behind enemy lines if need be. But you could also look at it in the context of “being a man” (whatever that means) and how men are typically encouraged to keep their emotions bottled up.

The lyrics kind of repeat here, once Mulan gets sent home but then stays and triumphs. Once again, a song deeply rooted in gender roles, something Mulan excels so well at portraying.

A Girl Worth Fighting For

And here we have our final song.

I love that Mulan’s music has embraced the world-building aspect of the story, setting the society’s values in black and white. There is no love song because it would alter the tone of the music. If anything it could have had a Reflection reprise to show the growth achieved by the time we reach the end. Nevertheless, we journey forth.

I want her paler than the
moon with eyes that
shine like stars
My girl will marvel at
my strength, adore my
battle scars
I couldn’t care less what she’ll
wear or what she looks like
It all depends on what
she cooks like
Beef, pork, chicken

So: beauty, obedient, and work fast-paced. Three different guys with three different wants. When Mulan suggests an intelligent woman, the guys scoff. These are the three male characters we’re supposed to like, Mulan’s friends! And they’re just as ignorant. Everyone in Mulan is flawed and it’s great. We all know, of course, that they help her in the end, before even her lover boy Shang does. But right now they too fall prey to the harsh restrictions of their culture.

But even the title has interesting implications because it defines who is WORTH fighting for. Not every life apparently matters. Not every girl is worth fantasizing about:

Our aching feet aren’t
easy to ignore
Hey, think of instead
A girl worth fighting for

&

You can guess what we
have missed the most
Since we went off to war
What do we want?
A girl worth fighting for

And that girl is, of course, one who is pretty, etc, etc.

But when we come home
in victory they’ll line up
at the door
What do we want?
A girl worth fighting for

This final stanza plays to both gender roles. Men must be macho and warriors because it is the only way a woman will want him. And women, well, women are supposed to just want men. Their whole lives revolve around marriage. She is there to please the man. She needs to be WORTH the man’s attention by powdering her face and watching her weight and keeping her lips shut.

Conclusion

I never actually realized the weight the songs in Mulan carry. Breaking them down and examining the lyrics was really an eye opening experience for me. Mulan was a brave film that had A LOT of barriers to tackle. What we got, of course, was an amazing film. This is straying away from the music, but I love how Mulan didn’t want to bend to her gender role, but then had to completely reject her femininity to masquerade as a boy and in the end, saves China as a woman. She uses her brains and a fan, the first something a woman was not encouraged to use, and second, a fan, something more traditionally associated with women. Mulan celebrates feminism and being one’s true self. It rejects gender roles. The music of Mulan is a vital piece of the film.

Have a Happy Sunday, guys! Sorry this one’s up late a day late. You can follow Animated Meta on Tumblr and Twitter.

Cheers!

M&M

Cinderella and Disneyfication

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As a little girl, Cinderella was my absolute favorite Disney movie, so it seemed fitting to tackle a Meta about her at some point. Between the Cinderella movie coming out in March, and Cinderella’s role in Into the Woods, my mind’s been on her for a while now, and today, I thought it would be interesting to compare one of the older, ‘original’ takes on Cinderella vs. how Disney translated the timeless fairytale onscreen.

Cinderella is one of those stories that every culture as to some extent, but for the sake of this Meta, I’ll be honing in on the Brothers Grimm version of the story. So how do these changes affect the overall story? Does the heart of the story stay intact despite the Disneyfication of the plot? We’ll find out. But first, what is Disneyfication? And how does it relate to Disney’s take on Cinderella?

 Disneyfication: Softening to Appeal to a Wider Audience

Well, Disneyfication is a term related to Disney; it refers to the way that Disney as a company often lightens fairytales for a younger audience. Business-wise, it makes a lot of sense; Disney is a family company, trying to appeal to parents and their children, so of course they would want to remove some of the harsher aspects of older fairytales.

In Cinderella, plenty of harsher elements are removed, in order to appeal to a wider audience. For example, in the Brothers Grimm tale, Cinderella’s stepmother cuts off the toe of one stepsister, and the heel of another, so that both girls can try and fit their feet into the slipper. Considering how grotesque that would look on screen, the animated movie skips this entirely and just has Cinderella’s stepsisters trying to squeeze their feet into the slipper with no avail. It’s more comical and less gory, but conveys a similar point: no matter how hard they try, neither can fool the prince into thinking they’re the princess.

The movie also avoids vengeance against Cinderella’s stepsisters. In the Brothers Grimm tale, Cinderella’s stepsisters are punished for trying to “ingratiate themselves and share in Cinderella’s good fortune” (Grimm 122). Their punishment? They’re blinded by doves. A bit harsh of a punishment, but that was how a lot of older fairytales were: the antagonists were given cruel punishments in order to scare children into behaving. In the Disney movie, we simply leave behind Cinderella’s stepsisters and stepmother as Cinderella goes off to the palace, which makes sense in a way; why bother when she’ll never have to deal with them anyway?

Here, removing harsher elements of the story removes unnecessary violence, but in turn, it removes an interesting facet of the story.

cinderella

There’s a lot of vanity involved with Cinderella’s stepmother and stepsisters, and while we get a small dose of that in the animated movie, here it’s more intense. These girls are willing to cut off parts of their feet in order to secure a better position for themselves as the prince’s wife. How desperate must they be that they’re willing to go this far to be a princess? They’re cutting away parts of themselves in order to fit into a mold, which reminds me a lot of beauty expectations women in society face. The Brothers Grimm may have written their version of Cinderella ages ago, but the grim message about the dark side of trying to achieve beauty and status is still very chilling and very applicable to today.

Still, despite the violence removed, we do see more harshness toward Cinderella in the animated movie than we do in the fairytale. Granted, fairytales don’t tend to have very fleshed out characters, so it makes sense that here, we would see more of the vileness of Cinderella’s step-sisters and stepmother, but it’s interesting how they’re portrayed. Her stepsisters are cruel, snappy toward her, and act like bullies, and her stepmother is just as bad. There are two particular scenes that portray their cruelty well.

The first happens near the end of the movie, when Cinderella’s stepmother locks her in the attic to keep the prince from seeing her, which basically cements her as the worst, and a hindrance to Cinderella’s goals.

The second is more uncomfortable: it’s the scene when Cinderella comes down in her beautiful pink dress (the one she and the mice handmade), and her stepsisters tear her dress apart while she’s still in it. Lady Tremaine is the one who sparks the action – spotting the blue beads around Cinderella’s neck, and pointing them out to her daughters – and the daughters go from there, taking back what they believe is rightfully “theirs,” screaming and ripping at her dress and leaving Cinderella in rags. The scene ends with her sobbing in the garden, a hysterical mess. There’s this strong feeling of violation and humiliation that makes watching the scene uncomfortable for me to this day. It’s meant to show the stepsisters’ entitlement, and how they feel they deserve to go to the ball while Cinderella does not, because she is lower than them. They’re trying to establish their dominance over her, which goes back to the beauty and status theme that I mentioned earlier. So in a way some of the root themes of the story stay, even if they’re shown differently.

Now that we’ve covered the gorier cuts from the original, and some additions to flesh out Cinderella’s stepmother and stepsisters what else has been lost? What has been condensed? Well, the ball itself, for one.

Three Day Ball Turned Into One
One of the cuts that made the most sense in the movie is cutting down the ball from a three-day event into one night. Obviously, this makes sense because animated movies need to convey a lot in a short period of time, so cutting down the time makes it easier to focus on that one night at the ball, instead of having to cover three separate ones.

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The movie takes advantage of this, using the time to really hone in on Cinderella and the Prince’s first meeting, giving us a glimpse of how they danced all night, and their conversations. Like the story, Cinderella loses her slipper, but rather than getting stuck in pitch, it slides off her foot, making it more of an accident, rather than a manipulation by the prince to trap her. Thus, cutting the pitch detail makes Prince Charming a bit less creepy in our eyes.

One of the cuts I did not appreciate, however, was a certain change in roles from the original tale to the animated movie. I’m talking about how Cinderella’s mother was cut out entirely and replaced by a fairy godmother.

Mother Tree vs. Fairy Godmother
Okay, don’t get me wrong. I appreciate Cinderella’s cool fairy godmother. I love Bippity Boppity Boo and the beautiful sequence when we see the pumpkin turn into the carriage, and how Cinderella’s dress is transformed into the stunning iconic blue gown.

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But in the original tale, Cinderella didn’t have a fairy godmother. Instead, her mother’s spirit was the ‘fairy godmother’ of her story. Her father brings her home a hazel branch after she requests a small branch, and Cinderella plants the branch by her mother’s grave. Here, her mother has a strong presence, and Cinderella’s tears are what spur the branch to grow into a beautiful tree. She prays and weeps for her mother, seeking comfort from her spirit, and finds something interesting: she can make wishes by the tree. “If she made a wish, the little bird would toss down what she had wished for” (Grimm 118). Obviously, this comes back into play when Cinderella wants to go to the ball. Here, we have an established form of wishing, and Cinderella seeks out her mother’s tree in order to go to the ball. “Shake your branches, little tree, toss gold and silver down on me,” she calls, and the little bird tosses down a beautiful silver and gold dress; quite different from the blue gown we see in the animated movie (Grimm 119).

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What I’ve always loved about this version of the tale is the maternal presence. Even though Cinderella’s mother is dead, we still get her presence and her spirit, watching over her daughter and granting her wishes in order to help her achieve her dreams.

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In the animated movie, that maternal edge and the spiritual undertones are lost entirely. The animated version of Cinderella doesn’t even mention her mother; we get a mention in the narration of her father being a widow, but we hear nothing about Cinderella’s mother, or her impact on her. Cinderella’s own ‘mother figure,’ Lady Tremaine, isn’t exactly motherly either; Lady Tremaine is cruel and ruthless, treating Cinderella more like a servant than she does a daughter. Unlike the Brothers Grimm tale, which doesn’t explain the motivations between the stepmother and her step-daughters’ cruelty toward Cinderella, the animated movie gives us a very interesting motivation: envy, and vanity. We’re told that Lady Tremaine is “bitterly jealous of Cinderella’s charm and beauty,” which is really no reason to demean a child and turn them into your personal servant, but it does give us glance into her mindset. Drusilla and Anastasia follow suit with their mother’s behavior, which she likely encouraged, and it’s possible that they too are envious of her beauty.

Instead of Cinderella’s mother’s tree, we have Cinderella’s fairy godmother, who is more like a kindly grandmother figure than she is a mother to Cinderella. “Oh come now, dry those tears,” she says, helping Cinderella up from the bench she’s been sobbing on. “You can’t go to the ball looking like that.”

cinderella fairy godmother

Unlike the Brothers Grimm tale, where Cinderella simply gets the dress and gets to the ball on her own, Cinderella’s fairy godmother gets everything all set up for her: the carriage, the horses, the dress…all Cinderella has to do is get in and go to the ball.

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It’s a great scene, but by taking Cinderella’s mother out of the picture, there’s something lost here for me. Disney has a thing about taking parents out of the picture, and to me, having Cinderella’s mother be involved in the story would’ve been a really beautiful thing. Alas, instead, we have her fairy godmother, which is well and good, but is it as sentimental? Not quite.

Conclusion
Is Cinderella one of those Disney movies that will always warm my nostalgic heart? Yes, definitely.

Is there something lost in removing some of the elements of the story? Definitely.
Adaptations aren’t always perfect. Disney’s Cinderella does a great job of capturing the core of the story: Cinderella’s hope and perseverance, even when times are rough, and how that hope brings her the happily-ever-after she deserves. However, by cutting the darker and more spiritual elements of the Brothers Grimm tale, Cinderella loses some of its dark take on society, status, and beauty, and there’s also a maternal bond lost. It’s a bit of a mixed bag: the changes made are understandable, but by watering down the story, something is missing.

What do you guys think? What’s your favorite version of the Cinderella story? Do you think Disney does a good job adapting fairytales, or is too much of the original story lost due to Disneyfication? Let us know in the comments!

You can follow Animated Meta on Twitter and Tumblr. Happy Tuesday!

Cheers,
M&M

 

Works Cited
Grimm, B. (1999). Cinderella. In M. Tatar, The Classic Fairy Tales (pp. 117-122). New York: Norton & Company.

Quest for Camelot: I Couldn’t Just Talk About One Thing

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I went into my re-watch of Quest for Camelot expecting to write about its portrayal of people (and dragons) with disabilities. What I found was a deeper element of the film that tied that into this message of togetherness. It makes total sense, too, when you consider that the story of King Arthur is about one man uniting a bunch of warring clans and tribes to make Camelot, the greatest city in the world. And so, lets consider this three metas in one! It is the holy trinity of metas.

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Quest for Camelot is no Disney classic, but it is a pretty great film (not made by Disney). Kayley is the protagonist, a girl hellbent on being a knight. She idolized her father from a young age, dreaming of being a knight just like him. When he’s killed by a greedy knight, Ruber, Kayley is determined more than ever to follow in his footstep. The only problem is, women are not knights. Trapped at home, Kayley’s moment finally comes when Ruber steals Excalibur and comes to collect her mother, Julianna, and have her lead his army into Camelot by tricking King Arthur. When news that Ruber’s pet gryffin lost the sword reaches her, Kayley rides off to the Forbidden Forest to retrieve it before he can. There she meets Garrett, a blind badass hermit, and a two-headed, fireless and flightless dragon, Devon and Cornwall. Predictably, Kayley and Garrett fall in love and they all save the day together. And voila, that’s all you need to know if you haven’t seen the film.

Family in Quest for Camelot

  • Kayley: On My Father’s Wings

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The first facet of Camelot’s theme of togetherness is Kayley’s relationship to her father. Since she was a little girl, Kayley has adored her father and the knights. She wants to hear the same story of King Arthur over and over again and go to Camelot.

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“I’m coming with you, daddy!” Little Kayley says when her dad has to go to Camelot for a meeting of the Round Table. When you’re older, her father says—famous last words. And off he goes and I cry buckets when little Kayley sees all the knights bringing her dad’s body back and is so excited her dad’s home and has no idea—

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Anyway.

So brings us to the song On My Father’s Wings, one of my favorites. When your dad sucks, it’s nice to imagine he’s a brave knight. Taking a play from Disney fashion, this is Kayley’s I Want song. She wants to be a knight, she wants to be guided by her father, she wants to do great things.

If you were with me now
I’d find myself in you

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I want to live my life
The way you said I would
With courage as my light
Fighting for what’s right
Like you made me believe I could

Kayley wants to be her father’s daughter: “One day, I’ll be a knight, like father.” With his death, there’s no one really that encourages her to go for her dreams. Her mother, Julianna, is amazing, but doesn’t encourage her to become a knight.

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Julianna: That’s a job for the knights.
Kayley: But I want to be a knight.

However, once Ruber attacks their home, Julianna is the one that tells Kayley to go and warn Arthur. Kayley is hesitant to leave her mother in Ruber’s clutches, but goes. When she hears that Ruber has lost the sword, she decides to get if before he can instead of riding to Camelot. Kayley finally gets her big adventure, her chance to achieve glory.

Kayley: How am I going to do great things if I’m stuck here? With these silly chickens?

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Don’t worry, Kayley. Your time has come! When Garrett suggests they make camp for the night, Kayley rebuffs this.

Garrett: No one travels through the Forbidden Forest at tonight.
Kayley: My father Sir Lionel would have.

The imprint her father left on her is Kayley’s driving force. She still grieves for him and she still aspires to be like him.

I will fly on my father’s wings
To places I have never been
There is so much I’ve never seen
And I can feel his heartbeat still
And I will do great things
On my father’s wings

And in poetic fashion, Kayley even echoes her father’s final lines, while staring down the same foe: I will not serve a false king.

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Even the villain gets it: You’re in the way, just like your father. Since you’re dying to be just like him, lets see if I can help you out.

But he can’t, because, um, duh, villains never win. Kayley and Garrett defeat Ruber and finally, the are both knighted—Kayley holding her father’s shield! I’ve heard lots of complaints or criticisms from people that animated movies feature a lot of death of parental figures and that it doesn’t affect the main character as much as it should. Quest for Camelot is not one of those. Kayley’s father has never been far from her mind and probably pushed her harder.

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Disability in Quest for Camelot

Representation is SO important. The world is not made up for fully able bodied peoples. Ableism is a real problem and Quest for Camelot is a movie that tackles that. Garrett is blind, but that does not stop him from being a total badass and helping Kayley save the day. Cornwall and Devon are a two-headed dragon that can’t fly, breath fire, and well, are physically different because they have TWO HEADS.

  • Garrett: I Stand Alone

Garrett’s motto is the title of his song I Stand Alone. He was blinded in a stable fire after he risked himself to save the horses and was knocked in the eyes by a spooked horse. His dream of being a knight slipped away from him, ridiculed by the people of Camelot. Towards the end of the film, when Kayley says she wishes he could see Camelot, Garrett says, “I have seen it and there was no place for me.”

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Garrett might be physically disabled, but that doesn’t stop him. He’s a great fighter and his walking stick doubles as a weapon. Emotionally, however, Garrett is all locked up. His character arc isn’t about learning to overcome his blindness, it’s about overcoming the emotional walls he put up. When he saves Kayley from Ruber’s mechanical army in the beginning, there’s no hesitation. His disability does not make him feel weak because he’s not weak. In fact, when Kayley tells him Excalibur is somewhere in the forest, he’s ready to go and find it himself. He’s not lacking in bravery and strength. His real problem is emotional.

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The one exception to Garrett’s standing alone-ness is Aiden, a falcon. Aiden is his eyes, in Garrett’s words, and caws every time danger is about to strike. Garrett relies on his other senses, especially the auditory and olfactory ones.

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His fighting strategy, inn his own terms is, “Take position, face your fear, and hold your ground till the last possible moment.” Aiden is frequently the voice of when it is the last possible moment. This mantra is how Kayley and Garrett defeat Ruber at the end of the film.

There are other examples of Garrett using his senses in the the film, such as smell and touch when they enter Dragon Country. Kayley is unaware they’ve crossed over even though she can see it with her own eyes. Later, when they hatch a plan to get Exalibur back from a giant, Garret needs Kayley to describe the layout to him and then he’s able to come up with a plan. His hearing is very important and the moment he can’t hear is when he gets injured, but he’s healed by the knowledge of the forest he passed onto Kayley, such as which plants are medicinal.

Despite everything, Garrett does not lose his sense of humor.

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When he saves Kayley, meeting her for the first time, she doesn’t realize he’s blind right away. But when she does, she says, “Oh, I didn’t realize you were…” Garrett takes the opportunity to throw out some adjectives, like rugged and handsome, but when she finally says blind, he quips, “You know I always forget that one.”

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Later, when Kayley sees Aiden, also known as Merlin’s bird Silver Wings, she says, “Hey your bird has silver wings.” And Garrett, ever the charmer: “Really? I’ll have to take your word for it.”

Garrett is such a great step towards representation. While blind, this feature is a mere facet of who he is. He has wants, he wants to become a knight, but fears he can’t. He wants to be with Kayley, but is afraid. He had a life before we met him; he was a stable boy in Camelot. He’s sarcastic, already shown above. He’s not just the “blind warrior,” as Ruber calls him.

He eventually overcomes his fears when Kayley’s been captured. He goes back to Camelot and joins the fight. When they confront Ruber and the bastard breaks his walking stick, Kayley comes up with a plan to trap Excalibur back in the stone. They take position, face their fears, and hold their ground until the last possible moment, tricking Ruber and using Garrett’s technique. The film does not devalue Garrett because he is blind. In fact, they validate the things he’s learned, most importantly at the end of the film when it is Garrett’s tactics that prevail.

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  • Devon and Cornwall: If I Didn’t Have You

If I Didn’t Have You was one of my FAVORITE songs ever as a kid. I loved this musical number. It shocked me now to come back to these characters and see them in an entirely new light. Devon and Cornwall are the reason “cousins shouldn’t marry” (hello incest joke!). They’re not classically handicapped and I don’t want to say they are a mutation, but they’re different from the norm. I think an argument can be made that they are a symbol of disability. Seriously, I do not want to offend anyone and I’m really nervous. I want to phrase this properly and respectfully. Devon and Cornwall also can’t breathe fire or fly, which are serious disabilities if you’re a dragon and Devon and Cornwall certainly are.

They are bullied by their fellow dragon-peers. Devon calls them “fire breathing bullies” and after they lead Kayley and Garrett underground to escape, they say they know every place to hide because they’ve been “dodging those bullies since we were two hundred years old.” Now, Devon and Cornwall aren’t disabled in the traditional sense like Garrett. Their problems fall on the fantastical side because of the nature of the film and the story being told, but I think the fact that they do look different and aren’t “normal” by conventional standards, does make them a symbol of disability.

Their song If I Didn’t Have You, while hilarious and witty, can be applied to anyone that wants to change something about themselves. It can be something as simple as, I wish I didn’t have a big nose, to something deeper like, I wish I wasn’t blind. Devon and Cornwall imagine all the possibilities their lives could go if they weren’t stuck with another head. Where Garrett’s arc is not about learning to cope with his disability, it is for the dragons. They’re not in the right headspace, constantly bickering with each other, and angsting. That changes as they gain confidence traveling with Kayley and Garrett.

The other part of the Devon/Cornwall conflict is that they can’t breath fire or fly. This is a more mental than physical problem, though they are unaware of this for the majority of the film. Once they stop bickering and putting each other down, once they are united because their friend Kayley is kidnapped, they can fly. When they notices they’re flying, they argue again, “I did it!” “You mean I did it!” Logical Garrett says: “Don’t you get it? The only reason you can’t fly is that you can’t agree on anything.” Obviously, no one’s disability is solved this easily but the message is that by loving yourself for who you are and embracing every part of you, you won’t be beholden to your disability.

Finally, at the end of the film, Devon and Cornwall DO get separated, but choose to be reattached. They love themselves the way they are.

Quest for Camelot: We’re all in this Together

  • United We Stand VS I Stand Alone VS Through Your Eyes

The music in Quest for Camelot really carries this theme of togetherness through till the very end. United We Stand is the opening song of the knights. It sets up the world and the values of the society.

United we stand
Now and forever
In truth, divided we fall

Hand upon hand
Brother to brother
No one shall be greater than all

From the start, this message of strength in numbers is told to us. Which, everyone knows the Knights of the Round Table are all about teamwork and crap like that. But then we meet Garrett and his song, I Stand Alone totally flips that.

Like every tree stands on its own
Reaching for the sky I stand alone
I share my world with no one else
All by myself I stand alone

As was already stated, Garrett’s arc is all about his overcoming that feeling. I mean, he lives in the FORBIDDEN Forest. He’s not about uniting and standing together. Garrett feels rejected by society, so he’s shut himself away. He tells Kayley flat out he’s a hermit and later, once he, Kayley, Devon, and Cornwall have made it out of dragon country in one piece, he says “Good news is, we’re out of dragon country, the better news is, this is where we say goodbye.” Garrett is not one for the whole team playing. Neither is Kayley, really, since after he finishes his song, she retorts, “I stand alone, too. I just need your help this once.” Kayley has always wanted to prove herself. She resents the gender roles that makes her a homemaker: “Taking care of the house… boring… where’s the glory in that?”

But, there’s Kayley, who he falls in love with. When he’s injured, Kayley can’t bear the thought of losing him. He’s not just her guide. She says, “Please don’t die, I can’t do this without you.” Kayley has always wanted to be a knight, but unlike Garrett, she never gave up on that dream. But she wanted to do great things on her own.

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Kayley, too, had to learn the power that comes from having a partner, from standing with someone (a la her “I stand alone, too” comment). After she heals him, they admit their feelings and the song Through Your Eyes plays. This song is all about two people becoming one, a unity.

Our two hearts are one
It’s out of our hands
We can’t stop what we have begun
And love just took me by surprise
Looking through your eyes

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Kayley and Garrett have learned that some things can’t be done alone. That together, by standing together, they are stronger. Well… they only learn it for a little while, since once they reach Camelot, Garrett tells Kayley to return the sword alone.

Kayley: But we’ll deliver the sword together.
Garrett: No, you deliver it. I don’t belong in that world. (Instrumental I Stand Alone plays)
Kayley: (as he walks away) (whispering) But you belong in mine.

*Feels*

  • Things Everyone Learned

By the time Kayley decides to go back for Garrett, it’s too late. Ruber has already caught up to her. And once Garrett hears this, he goes after her, no questions asked. No more fear. The only hitch is, he’ll never make it to Camelot in time… unless Devon and Cornwall fly!

Devon and Cornwall are united in their love for Kayley and want to save her. The moment they put their differences aside because they are equal in their resolve to save their friend, they are a team! They can fly! They even choose to remain one at the end, instead of separating. They even protect Aiden/Silver Wings from Ruber’s gryffin. It’s not about one person. It’s about everyone helping everyone

Just before Kayley and Garrett stop Ruber and the creep thinks he’s won, he says, “Two for the price of one.” Again, it reminds is Kayley and Garrett are a team. But Ruber, actually, in a rather odd turn of events, actually also falls into this message of togetherness. He interrupts United We Stand and visually appears out of the shadows the first time we meet him, a sign that he’s different from everyone else. His beliefs aren’t in line. But, when he gets Excalibur, finally, he attaches it to his arm.

Like Hook.

So morbidly, Ruber too enters a unity with the sword and becomes one with it. It’s really weird and I wonder if the creators were thinking this way when they were building the story.

Let’s switch gears a little—because that got weird fast—and look at King Arthur, Camelot, and his knights. Arthur also needs to be reminded of the importance of teamwork. He wants to go after Ruber and get Excalibur back, but he was wounded in Ruber’s attack and must heed Merlin’s advice: he must rely on the courage of his people. People! More than one. It’s not about valiant King Arthur riding in and saving the day. It’s about a collective force coming together.

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Visually, we’re also shown the three ringed symbol of Arthur’s rule: the one true king, the sword, and the lands he united. We also see subjects dancing in large group numbers. Everything is collective here. That message of united we stand isn’t lost in simple world building aspects like this.

  • Wrapping Up

If it wasn’t totally obvious, I completely recommend Quest for Camelot. It does fail in the people of color aspect, everyone is white. But it does show us grief, a mother/daughter relationship I didn’t get to touch on but is very strong and also important, and really, most importantly Garrett: a strong amazing blind character. Devon and Cornwall too are important in terms of disability, but they’re merely just symbols. Garrett is a human, is disabled, and kicks ass (literally and figuratively).

What do you think? Have you seen Quest for Camelot? What’s your favorite song?

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Cheers,
-M&M!

The Beast and Gaston: Beastly Behavior and Shared Flaws

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Today’s Meta is about how the Beast and Gaston could have easily become the same people under different circumstances. So where do these two characters compare? Where do they contrast? Let’s find out, by starting with the similarities. (There are a lot of them.)

Similarities between The Beast and Gaston
Now, you’re probably wondering: “Mel, what do you mean the Beast and Gaston share similarities? They’re completely different characters!”

Why yes, they are. But they do share plenty of similar traits.

They both display brutish behavior towards Belle. There’s something interesting about how the movie introduces both characters. We meet Gaston before the Beast during “Belle,” and our first shot of Gaston is him shooting down a bird from the sky. That’s a pretty brutal way to introduce a character. Yes, he’s a hunter, and not all hunters are brutal, but there’s this eeriness about Gaston, and how possessive he is as an individual. Especially because right after this, Gaston spots Belle in the crowd, and we hear all about how he deserves Belle, because he deserves the best. Apparently, he doesn’t care much about Belle’s feelings on the matter, because he keeps pushing her, even after she rejects him multiple times.

[One example: when he puts an arm around her shoulders and suggests that she go with him to look at his hunting trophies, Belle says “maybe some other time” and slides out of his grip, not letting him drag her around. She then tells him again, politely but firmly, that she needs to get home, despite him ignoring her initial no.]

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One particular scene that stands out for me with Gaston’s brutish behavior toward Belle is the proposal scene. Let’s talk about the body language in this scene: Gaston forces his way inside; Belle backs away. He keeps striding toward her, ignoring the fact that she’s backing away from him, and leans toward her, invading her personal bubble. Belle uses barriers to keep Gaston away from her, like the table and the rocking chair. Her body language screams ‘stop coming toward me,’ and Gaston doesn’t care. He sneaks up on Belle, stalking her through the house like she’s his prey. In the end, her back is against the door, he’s leering over her, and Belle is clearly uncomfortable. She manages to get him out of the house by opening the door and moving out of the way, allowing him to trip into the mud.

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And do you know what Gaston says after all of that? “I’ll have Belle for my wife, make no mistake about that.”

Belle is clearly not interested in him, she’s uncomfortable with his harassment, and she turned down his marriage proposal, but Gaston is still determined to get her. That screams ‘brutal guy who will not give up’ to me.

However, the Beast doesn’t make a great first impression, either. When we meet the Beast, it’s dark and he’s in the shadows, stalking toward Maurice. He shouts at him, demanding to know why he’s in his home, and when he’s not satisfied with his answers, he throws Maurice in a cell. Talk about brutal introductions.

The Beast also behaves brutally toward Belle. When he first shows her to his room, he attempts to be polite, but ends up snapping at her that she has to attend dinner. “That’s not a request!” he says. When she later refuses, he’s furious. He told her she had to join him, so why does she refuse to dine with him? He tries coaxing her out, but when his politeness fails, he shouts at her: “Fine! Then go ahead and starve!” His tantrum is much like one that a child would have, and it doesn’t endear Belle to him much. He feels entitled to her company, because she’s his prisoner. And that entitlement ties into our next discussion point.

They are both incredibly entitled characters. Gaston is super entitled. Just take a look at how Gaston talks about Belle early on in the movie; it’s very telling. He talks about how she’s “the most beautiful girl in town,” which “makes her the best,” and then, we get into the entitlement: “Don’t I deserve the best?”

Things only get worse from there. Gaston is so entitled to Belle, and so convinced that she’s his, that he sets up a wedding and then GOES INSIDE TO PROPOSE TO HER. I’m sorry, but how arrogant is this? He assumes that Belle will say yes to him, because he deserves her, and obviously she should see that he’s the best option for her, right?

Wrong, because Belle isn’t an object. Belle is a person who doesn’t appreciate Gaston’s assumptions. Belle turns down his numerous attempts and is obviously uncomfortable with his harassment. Instead of respecting her feelings and moving on, he keeps pursing her, even though she’s turned him down time and time again, because he feels entitled to her.

The Beast is also entitled. Look at how he treats his servant: he shouts at them and orders them around, not caring how they feel, because they’re his to command. He’s entitled about the castle as well; he refuses to let Belle enter the forbidden West Wing, because he doesn’t want her to see the rose or his former self. When Belle explores that area anyway, he’s furious with her and acts much like the beast he’s been turned into, shouting at her and stalking toward her, hitting things with his paws… he’s very brutal, and understandably, Belle runs away, getting herself out of that situation, much like she got out of the brutal situation she was in with Gaston. Interestingly, we see something here that we don’t see with Gaston; after Belle leaves, the Beast buries his face in his hands, as if he’s ashamed of his behavior and his brutality. This is the start of the change we later evidence in the characters (which I’ll talk more about later).

They look down on others. Gaston looks down on Belle’s father. He and Lefou laugh over how he’s a “crazy old loon,” and Gaston later refers to him as “crazy old Maurice”. Gaston clearly doesn’t understand that insulting a woman’s father is no way to her heart. When Maurice later comes to Gaston and Lefou, terrified for Belle and worried about her being in the grasps of the Beast, the duo laugh at him and toss him out into the cold. Let’s keep in mind that 1) it’s winter, and, 2) Maurice is an elderly man! Of course, just after that scene, he muses on Maurice, but instead of thinking ‘oh, maybe I shouldn’t have done that’, he realizes he can use Belle’s father as a pawn to get entrap Belle. He tries to get Maurice put away in the asylum, and then tells her that he “might be able to clear up this little misunderstanding…if [she] marries [him].” That’s pretty twisted behavior, and Belle agrees, calling him a “monster” and refusing to even consider it.

beauty gaston's the monster

The Beast gets put under the curse because of the way that he looks down on the old woman who shows up at his doorstep, with a single rose as tribute for allowing her to stay the night in his home to escape the bitter cold. Much like our situation above, with Maurice and Gaston, the Beast (at that time, the Prince) scoffs at her, “repulsed by her haggard appearance,” and refuses to let her inside. However, unlike Maurice, the old woman at his doorstep turns out to be the Enchantress, and she’s unhappy with both his cruelty and his vanity. And we all know what happens after that.

Finally, both are pretty vain. We see vanity more-so with Gaston, but the Beast does care a great deal about his appearance. After all: the curse that the Enchantress put him under wouldn’t affect him so greatly if he didn’t.

Gaston’s character thrives on vanity.The main reason he likes Belle is because she’s “the most beautiful girl in town.” He doesn’t care about her intelligence, or her compassion, or her kindness. He even tells us this in “Belle”:

Right from the moment when I met her, saw her
I said “she’s gorgeous” and I fell
Here in town, there’s only she
Who is beautiful as me

For Gaston, it’s all about beauty, especially his own. It’s particularly hilarious how while he’s singing about Belle, he’s checking himself out in the mirror. How vain can you be?

There’s also Gaston’s song, which 1) the title is his name (which screams vanity) and 2) it’s all about the townspeople complimenting Gaston and boosting his ego:

There’s no man in town as admired as you
You’re everyone’s favorite guy
Everyone’s awed and inspired by you
And it’s not very hard to see why

(and)

When I was a lad, I ate four dozen eggs
Every morning to help me get large
And now that I’m grown I eat five dozen eggs
So I’m roughly the size of a barge!

beauty and the beast fabulous reaction

If you weren’t convinced before that Gaston is vain, I hope you are now.

The Beast cares a lot about his appearance. When he is the Prince, he judges the old woman outside the castle by her appearance, not realizing the power she holds, and when he realizes it, it’s too late; the woman already knows what kind of a person he is, and curses him, turning him into the Beast.

When he finds Maurice in the house, one of the first things he says to him is “So you’ve come to stare at the Beast, have you?” He is angered by the way that Maurice looks at him like he’s a monster because of his appearance. We’re told in the opening narration that the Beast is “ashamed of his monstrous form,” and honestly, who wouldn’t be a little ashamed if they were turned into a fearsome Beast by an Enchantress? The problem is that the Beast has let his vanity – or lack thereof – consume him. He is so caught up in his appearance, and how hideous he feels that he’s become, that he won’t let anyone in. It takes Belle’s encouragement (and ranting) to bring out the better side of him, the inner beauty that others don’t see. It’s only that, and her love for him, that allows the Beast to break the curse and retain his physical form – and get back his outer beauty as well.

 

Where the Beast and Gaston differ
But where the Beast and Gaston differ is in their attitudes toward Belle. Their divergence in how they deal with Belle is where the Beast begins to grow and Gaston does not.

Like I mentioned above, the Beast is pretty horrible toward Belle. However, the Beast also does something that Gaston never does: he realizes that his behavior is wrong, and makes up for it.
The scene with the wolves – and the scene afterwards – is a huge turning point in Belle and the Beast’s relationship. First, the Beast comes after Belle and protects her and her horse from the wolves. That’s a pretty big step for someone who initially cared so little for Belle that he didn’t care if she starved or not. This is also the first time we see Belle offer compassion toward the Beast; she covers him with her cloak after he passes out, and gets him back safely to the castle. She cleans his wounds, despite his grumbling, and here’s where we have their last big spat:

Beast: If you hadn’t run away, this wouldn’t have happened!

Belle: Well, if you hadn’t frightened me, I wouldn’t have run away!

Beast: Well, you shouldn’t have been in the West Wing! (There’s that entitlement again.)

But Belle isn’t cowered, because she responds with the point that finally gets the Beast to think about his actions: “Well, you should learn to control your temper!”

The Beast is about to shout back at her, and realization hits him. He lowers his head, realizing that he was wrong, and doesn’t say a word. Here is where we see the Beast’s entitlement and brutality come into question. Here is where we see a character change coming.

Belle thanking him for saving her life is also a big moment for the Beast. He hasn’t had anyone warm to him in this way since he became the Beast. He’s clearly surprised by her thanking him, evidenced by his stunned “You’re welcome.”

And it’s after this moment that the Beast begins to prove Belle wrong about his behavior. He shows her the library. He speaks cordially and politely to her, rather than shouting at her or treating her like a prisoner. And most importantly of all, he takes Belle’s wants and desires into account. When Belle needs to leave and go take care of her father, the Beast lets her go, even at his own detriment, because he’s grown past his earlier mentality: he refuses to keep Belle here as a prisoner. He is willing to sacrifice breaking the curse for her, because that’s what love is all about: sacrifice, and respecting the other person in the relationship, even if it means letting them go. In the Beast’s case, this works out for the best, because Belle comes back – and then the curse is broken.

Gaston, on the other hand, never learns from his mistakes. If Gaston had sat down and thought about his actions after Belle rejected his “proposal” (because “Say you’ll marry me” is not a “Will you marry me?”; one is a command, another is a question), if he’d come to his senses and realized he was being a jerk and atoned, maybe the movie would be different.

But unfortunately for him, Gaston stays on the same stubborn path. His arrogance and entitlement only grow, and in the end, that’s what leads to his demise. He is so determined to get Belle that if he can’t have her, he’ll just make sure that she can’t have anyone else either. When he goes to kill the Beast, he’s motivated purely by jealousy and hatred. How could Belle love a beast instead of him, Gaston, the most wonderful man in town? And even after the Beast spares his life, Gaston still tries to kill him, despite promising not to. It’s that arrogance and cruelty that leads to Gaston’s death.

There’s a phrase that applies well to Gaston: pride goeth before the fall. Gaston’s death results because he lets his pride get the better of him. When he tries to strike at the Beast again, Gaston slides off of the ledge and falls, which we can assume kills him, because it’s pretty impossible to survive a fall like that unless you’re Wile E Coyote.

The reason that Belle falls in love with the Beast, and not Gaston, is because unlike Gaston, the Beast grows and changes. He has a strong regard for her feelings. He treats her like a person, rather than a prize to be won (Princess Jasmine, anyone?), and she respects him for that. In fact, we only get a glimpse of Belle starting to fall for the Beast after he saves her life and stops being a jerk. That’s really important. It shows that Belle isn’t willing to put up with a man who doesn’t treat her well, and respects the Beast for changing his ways and becoming a better person.

The reason that the Beast changes for Belle, not anyone else, is because unlike everyone else in the castle, Belle doesn’t put up with the Beast’s behavior. While his servants cowered and acted polite, but weren’t too firm, Belle wasn’t afraid to tell the Beast off for being a jerk. And despite his initial annoyance at her, the Beast grows to realize that Belle has a point; he has been a jerk. Because she called him out on his behavior, he changes his ways and attempts to be a better person. That better person, the stronger man he becomes, is the one that Belle falls in love with, and it’s because of her that he embraces this better part of himself.

In the end, while Gaston and the Beast have many similarities, the paths they take are very different. One leads to death, the other leads to love and a happily-ever-after. Because the Beast grows and changes, he breaks the curse and finds the happiness and love he desires. Because Gaston refuses to change, he gets so caught up in revenge and possessing Belle that it winds up killing him. They started at the same level, but the Beast rose while Gaston fell.

What do you think of the Gaston/Beast similarities? Would you have liked to see Gaston mature? Or was it better to have left him as the villain?

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Cheers,

-M&M!

Disney Villain Songs: Part Two

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Welcome back to the Disney Villain Songs Meta. We tackled five songs last week and this time we have four more, plus some other films to discuss.

Last week I told you that Villain Songs didn’t really become a thing until the Renaissance era films, when the storytelling took a shift. The post-Renaissance films have been an odd mix. Some of them sway more Renaissance, while others lean back to more traditional Disney films, where the villain is a deeper theme.

After Pocahontas in 1995, we got The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Hercules, Mulan, Tarzan, The Emperor’s New Groove, Lilo & Stitch, The Princess & The Frog, Tangled, and Frozen. Out of those films only Hunchback, Emperor, Frog, and Tangled have Villain Songs.

Hades is definitely a villain of Hercules, constantly trying to keep the son of Zeus from regaining his god status. But the true villain of the film is Hercules’ isolation. He grows up believing he’s a human, where his extreme strength distances him from everyone—dude, he’s like the original Elsa!

hercules alone no one can hurt you

Meg is, too!

When he finds out who he is, that’s when things begin to change and he wants to regain his place among the gods, where he thinks he will belong. The immediate threat to this plan is Hades, so he becomes the physical villain. It’s not until Hercules rescues Meg from the underworld that he truly wins and becomes a hero and realizes he belongs with her and with his friends.

hercules punch hades

You can’t give isolation a song (though Frozen certainly tried, I guess).

Hercules’ need to belong is what is given a song. He gets an I Want song! “Sometimes I feel like I really don’t belong here, like I’m supposed to be someplace else,” he says, just before the song begins. This is the true threat to him. It makes him leave home (“You’re the greatest parents anyone can have, but I gotta know.”) And once he thinks knows where he belongs, he succeeds. He trains and he beats every monster Hades throws at him, trying to fulfill his role as a god. But when Meg gets hurt and is ripped away from him, he knows he belongs with her. That is when he really wins and even attains the status he was looking for.

In Mulan, the physical villain is the army of Huns and their leader. But really, Mulan is about gender roles and what a woman should and shouldn’t do.

mulan reflection

The Huns are always the background threat, driving the plot. Mulan’s storyline is deeper, its villains a society, a way of thinking. Even when Mulan saves the day and is confronted the emperor, she is afraid of his reaction, expecting to be berated for her heroism. I mean, and her destruction of the palace, but details.

mulan fuck you mulan reaction

When Mulan is the sole person that knows the Huns were not defeated, she is scoffed at because she brings the news as a woman. The antagonist of Mulan was never solely the Huns and that is why there is no Villain song.

Tarzan! I love the music in this film so much. I used to play Son of Man on repeat for hours. I loved the growing up montage; it amused me to no end. There’s no Villain Song here since it’s kind of a re-vamp of The Jungle Book. Both films are about boys that grew up away from humanity and are more comfortable with animals. While Mowgli had little interest in man, Tarzan is fascinated with the strangers that look like him.

tarzan man

I’m not sure what I’d call the villain of this film. Kerchak is an obstacle to Tarzan. Clayton is definitely a piece of work and his hunting of the gorillas is horrible. The message is, of course, pro-nature, but I think there’s also something to be said about the notion of home. Once Tarzan learns he’s human and there’s a whole world out there he should be in, he thinks he should leave the jungle. He’s in love, so that also plays a part in his decision. But as Jane finds out, home does not have to be what society expects. Home can be the jungle. I don’t know that I’d call Tarzan a film about finding the strength to be yourself and be open to change, but it certainly plays itself that way.

tarzan and jane swinging

Lilo & Stitch, precious film that it is, is not a musical, though it has some lovely songs in it. So there’s no Villain Song here because of its structure. But if it was a musical, it could easily devote a comedic song to Jumba and Pleakley attempting to catch Stitch. However, as you’re probably tired of hearing, the deeper villain here ties very closely into Tarzan. Stitch finds a home on earth with Lilo. Lilo also aligns very much with Hercules, struggling to figure out where she belongs, feeling isolated from the other girls in her hula class. Nani and Lilo are also grieving for their parents and trying to find a way to relate to each other.

lilo and stich hands

There’s so much more at play beneath the surface of silly alien hunting.

Frozen is erm… we all know Frozen is really about isolation and fear and not loving yourself. I don’t need to spell that out for you. Hence, Hans and his treachery don’t get a song. As Mel eloquently put it to me once, Let it Go is an odd Villain/Empowerment Song.

frozen strugglebus reaction

It speaks to Elsa’s fears and seeks to overcome them, but it really doesn’t since she’s still not in control of her powers. If everything was solved then, we wouldn’t have a movie. Frozen is hard for me to talk about because as I was watching it the first time, I adored it. But the more I think about it, there are things that don’t quite work, didn’t need to be there, etc. Hans is one of them. But the deeper themes of Frozen do not need to be contested and thus, there is no true Villain Song.

Now, onto the films that DO have Villain Songs!

Hellfire

Mel already did an analysis of Hellfire when she wrote about Hunchback and Religion. Let’s switch gears and look at it through the lens of villainy. It’s similar to Gaston, where Frollo sees himself as having done no wrong. Like Ursula did in Poor Unfortunate Souls, he tries to present himself as a saint.

Beata Maria
You know I am a righteous man
Of my virtue I am justly proud

Sorry, Frollo. You are not a righteous dude. And you should not be proud.

peter pan no me gusta reaction

You know I’m so much purer than
The common, vulgar, weak, licentious crowd

You’re also not in a place to be insulting people.

Hellfire is Frollo’s confession. He’s torn between his… urges for Esmeralda (I could not say “feelings” because that feels too innocent) and the strict doctrine of his religion. He tries to justify his actions, his burning of Paris to apprehend her. Villains hardly ever see themselves as in the wrong, a case made clear here.

hunchback me or the fire

Frollo has a lot of internal conflict to deal with, perhaps more so than any other Disney villain. His journey is as complex as a hero’s. His beliefs are challenged and instead of shedding his ignorance and hatred, he does not. If Frollo had, he could have easily become the protagonist of this film. Hunchback could have been about a man finding mercy within himself, about seeing how his negative interpretation of religion led to so many horrible crimes. Two roads were set before Frollo in a way no other villain has gotten. Frollo chose wrong.

Like fire
Hellfire
This fire in my skin
This burning
Desire
Is turning me to sin
It’s not my fault

Frollo cannot accept blame or responsibility. If he admits he wants Esmeralda, a sinner, then what does that make him? He is no longer a righteous man (he never was, but whatever). So it becomes Esmeralda’s crime. She is the villain. She IS the devil, tempting him.

hunchback frollo witchcraft

Protect me, Maria
Don’t let this siren cast her spell
Don’t let her fire sear my flesh and bone
Destroy Esmeralda
And let her taste the fires of hell
Or else let her be mine and mine alone
Hellfire
Dark fire
Now gypsy, it’s your turn
Choose me or
Your pyre
Be mine or you will burn

Frollo turns to his beliefs for strength. He also turns to them for justification of what he’s about to do.

hunchback hellfire, dark fire

Hellfire is so interesting because it again questions sexism by placing the responsibility on the woman. If a man wants a woman, she has no choice. And if she tempts him, that’s her fault, too. It also represents a deep-rooted inner conflict none of the villains ever had to contend with. Frollo here is clearly torn between what he wants to do. He’s in distress, a quality we’ve never witnessed before. His inner conflict makes him so compelling to watch.

Snuff out the Light

I wouldn’t be surprised if most of you didn’t know The Emperor’s New Groove had a Villain Song in it. That’s because it was deleted and what a mistake! I know why they did—the song is so freakishly amazing and deep it would change the tone of the film. The Emperor’s New Groove is not deep. Snuff out the Light is. I wanted to include this deleted song in the meta because it is wonderful and it’s my meta, so I can.

follow your dreams reactiong

Yzma wants power, like Scar and many villains before her. Unlike most villains, though, Yzma is old, a fact Kuzco can never forget. It seems to diminish her in his eyes. His voiceover when the audience meets her is, “This is Yzma… living proof that dinosaurs once roamed the earth.” Later: “Wow, look at these wrinkles. What is holding this woman together?”
Oh, and here’s the best. When he fires her:

Yzma: But your highness, I have been nothing if not loyal to the empire for many, many years.
Kuzco: Hey everybody hits their stride. You just hit yours fifty years ago.

really?

Kuzco is vain (remember when he had potential wives line up for him?) and Yzma is old and not pretty, so she has to go. Ageism at its finest, folks! Sure, she wasn’t doing a good job, evidenced by her having zero compassion for the peasant that comes to lament about the lack of food, but that is not why she was fired.

With that in mind, lets turn to Snuff out the Light. Listen HERE.

When a woman acquires a certain age
And the men who adored you no longer swoon
It pays to avoid the sunlit days
And live by the light of the kindly moon
But the moon grows old
Just like us all
And her beautiful years are done
So now she prays through endless days
To take her revenge on the sun

This is a song about beauty, the importance of looks, and revenge.

In similar fashion to Villain Songs before, Snuff out the Light provides backstory.

When I was a girl at my daddy’s side
Papa, the royal mortician
Revealed to me in secret signs
The mark of a magician

Yzma’s father was an intelligent man and she learned from him. She prided herself on her knowledge, seeking to one day discover a way to stay young and pretty.

I studied well I learnt the trade
I thought my looks would never fade
If I could find that recipe
To give eternal youth to me

It was always my ambition
To use Papa’s tuition
And gain some small remission
From the vagaries of time

But clearly that has failed her now. She never found it and Kuzco fired her because she reached “a certain age.” She is no longer adored. Like Poor Unfortunate Souls, a woman’s role is again questioned. Is her worth defined by her beauty?

little mermaid the human world is a mess

I’ve really stopped at nothing
Murder, treachery, and lying
Whatever it takes to keep my looks
You really can’t blame a girl for trying

To Yzma, it is. Beauty is everything. I love how Disney always presents these false, negative, and pervasive ideas of womanhood to us in a Villain Song. Ursula thinks it, and as we’ll see, Mother Gothel thinks it. Gaston certainly cares about beauty, it’s the main reason he fixated on Belle (“The most beautiful girl in town! That makes her the best.”). The Evil Queen is obsessed with being the fairest of them all and once a mirror tells her that someone else is the fairest in the land, she flies into a jealous rage.

This song also touches on something I mentioned in Hellfire. Villains don’t see themselves as such. They’re not self-aware. Yzma is very self-aware here. She admits that she’s murdered and lied, so she can’t go back now. She’s in too deep and does not see a way out. That’s such an interesting facet of her character that’s lost by cutting this song.

Friends on the Other Side

This song from The Princess and the Frog reminds me most of Poor Unfortunate Souls. It’s manipulative, meant to coax someone into doing exactly what Dr. Facilier wants.

On you little man, I don’t want to waste much time
You been pushed around all your life
You been pushed around by your mother and your sister and your brother.
And if you was married…
You’d be pushed around by your wife
But in your future, the you I see
Is exactly the man you always wanted to be!

Just like Ariel was putty in Ursula’s hands, Lawrence can’t resist. It’s also interesting to see Lawrence be the one to fall for it since he was staunchly against Naveen going for a reading. Whereas, in The Little Mermaid, Ariel was fully intending to get help from Ursula from the start.

Perhaps one reason The Princess & The Frog isn’t quite as loved is because it feels too safe. We’ve already seen this ploy before. Every previous song has changed the game in some way. Ursula’s was the first, Gaston’s introduced victim-blaming, Jafar’s was a victory song, Scar’s was a plotting song, Ratcliffe’s set up the eventual conflict of the film and featured a cameo by someone considered a hero, Frollo’s was just fucked up, and Yzma’s calls out ageism and those obsessed with beauty. Friends on the Other Side is an intimidation song.

princess and the frog reaction i will end you

Sit down at my table
Put your minds at ease
If you relax it will enable me to do anything I please
I can read your future
I can change it ’round some, too
I’ll look deep into your heart and soul
(you do have a soul, don’t you, Lawrence?)
Make your wildest dreams come true!

I got voodoo
I got hoodoo
I got things I ain’t even tried!
And I got friends on the other side

Massive Ursula vibes, okay! This is basically the male Poor Unfortunate Souls.

And I fortunately know a little magic
It’s a talent that I always have possessed
And here lately, please don’t laugh
I use it on behalf
Of the miserable, lonely, and depressed pathetic

Poor unfortunate souls
In pain, in need
This one longing to be thinner
That one wants to get the girl
And do I help them?
Yes, indeed

Dr. Facilier and Ursula both prattling about their magic? Check.
Dr. Facilier and Ursula both talking up their skills? Check.
Dr. Facilier and Ursula both promising to help? Check.

little mermaid ursula lips

Both villains are trying to coerce someone into doing something. They both follow the same structure and involve a transformation, coincidentally. If you’ve noticed Villain Songs have not followed this pattern. They usually involve the villain alone or with their minions lamenting some crime that has been done to them. As a result, Friends on the Other Side is stale and not as memorable as its predecessors.

Mother Knows Best

Finally we come to the last Villain Song. I’m kinda sad, guys. Lets meta the shit out of it.

This song also has lots in common with Poor Unfortunate Souls. It’s a manipulation and an intimidation song, but it stands apart simply because of who the characters are. We have our first abusive parent relationship here. There’s a history between these characters that hasn’t been seen since Frollo and Quasi (the parent/child relationship except the “parent” totally lied to them their whole lives and is not their real parent).

The manipulation tactic here is different, too. Where Ursula and Dr. Facilier both talked up themselves, Mother Gothel talks down to Rapunzel.

Look at you, as fragile as a flower
Still a little sapling, just a sprout
You know why we stay up in this tower
(I know but)
That’s right, to keep you safe and sound, dear

She makes Rapunzel fear her own supposed inability.

tangled fear

She makes Rapunzel feel vulnerable, like she needs Mother Gothel for her own protection.

Mother’s right here
Mother will protect you

Mother is the source of all your problems—I mean—

She uses her position of authority over Rapunzel. There’s an imbalance in the power dynamic between them. Gothel, as the parent, should be seen as a source of love and protection, and she abuses that. Rapunzel trusts her. And like all parent relationships, sometimes guilt is an easy tactic to use to discourage an action:

Go ahead, get mugged and left for dead
Me, I’m just your mother, what do I know?
I only bathed and changed and nursed you

Go ahead and leave me, I deserve it
Let me die alone here, be my guest
When it’s too late, you’ll see, just wait
Mother knows best

She talks down to Rapunzel and then also uses a guilt trip. I think we know who deserves an award for Mum of the Year.

tangled gothel

Where Pocahontas made a daring move and included John Smith in Ratcliffe’s song, Tangled goes ahead and gives Mother Knows Best a reprise! TWO VILLAIN SONGS PEOPLE. TWO. IT ONLY TOOK 9 MOVIES TO DO IT.

Gothel tries to use the same tactics here:

This is why you never should have left
Dear, this whole romance that you’ve invented
Just proves you’re too naive to be here

Again she tries to make Rapunzel doubt herself and talks down to her. But when Rapunzel recoils, she drops the charade.

Oh, I see;
Rapunzel knows best,
Rapunzel’s so mature now,
Such a clever grown-up miss

If we saw her as patronizing before, man, that’s nothing on how she acts now. Her demeanor is haughty, and she’s done talking sweet. She pats her on the head like a pet, spins her around harshly, snaps at her, invades her personal space. The mothering pretense is gone, and now Mother Gothel is just angry that she’s lost control of Rapunzel.

If he’s lying
Don’t come crying
Mother knows best…

Deep down, Gothel is not a mother. She’s not equipped to raise a child, shown here when Rapunzel takes her first steps into independence. Like Gaston, she sees Rapunzel as on object she can possess.

mine reaction

Conclusion

Over the last two posts we’ve looked at a myriad of films. I loved looking at each song and seeing how the Villain Song grew and changed. Even the nature of villains, really, evolved with every film. There were lots of similarities between them, common elements that Disney holds onto, which is why these songs have become classics.

What’s your favorite Disney villain? Do you have a favorite Villain Song? What do you think about villains being people vs ideas? Do you think one is stronger than the other?

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Cheers,
-M&M!