Monthly Archives: April 2015

Say the (Friend) Word


Say the Word was (and still is) one of my favorite songs. I was listening to it yesterday morning while I waited for the train and realized the song actually has a totally different meaning than I thought it did! Thus, let’s examine the famous Kim Possible song.


So maybe it’s just because I’ve never seriously thought about this song in any kind of ‘dissecting capacity’ (I’m sorry if that sounds very awkward), but listening to it recently made me realize some things. When I was little, I thought this song was all about how Kim was always there to save the world and was a general badass and all that wonderfulness.

But this song isn’t really about Kim saving the world whenever we say the word. It’s about saving her friends whenever they say the word. Maybe this was just my self absorbed 10 year old brain assuming she was talking about me and the rest of the world, but 20 year old (slightly less self absorbed) me actually paid attention to the words this time and learned something.

world cup omg reaction I know, right? My reaction, too.

Maybe we’re all Kim’s friends, which is why she saves anyone that needs her, but I think looking at this song in another lens, from Kim saving her “friends” in the traditional sense of the word (ie, people she knows), makes it more meaningful.

If you find your world is cavin’ in

You can bet you’re gonna need a friend

Someone to take those fears away

This is friendship. This is what it means to be a friend and this is what it means to have a friend. How many times do we turn to our friends for help and advice, especially when we feel like we’re alone? There’s ‘cavin’ in’ in the literal OMG ROCKS ARE FALLING ON ME FROM THIS DISASTER I AM IN that Kim could probably save you from because she is totally awesome that way. But there’s also an emotional ‘cavin’ in’ when good friends are important and totally help dig you out. And Kim would do that too for her friends. She’s not just a physical hero. She’s a person.

Make a call and I’ll be there

Anytime, anywhere

Have you heard

That I’m all about savin’ your world

All you have to do is say the word

The first two lines of this part of course reference how Kim is always on call when it comes to literal saving the world duties. But again, friends call on each other in the middle of the night, at sometimes the worst possible moment because that’s when they need to. That’s when the cavin’ in happens and you have to be ready.

I think it’s very important that that verse ends with ‘all you have to do is say the word’ because true friendships ask for nothing in return. And Kim isn’t either. Say the word is just letting someone in, admitting you need help. This song is freaking beautiful and profound, okay.

reaction i just have something in my eye

In trouble, in it deep

This is a promise that I can keep

Make it right, count on me

To be the best friend I can be

When your life is bending

Upside down

I’ll be the one to turn it around

What is happening to these people? Caves, trouble, deep, clearly things are in bad shape. Again, these could be literal – and refer Kim actually saving the world –  but they can also be symbolic. Whatever it is, Kim promises to do it. Kim is a class A friend and a class A superhero.

kp ron meeting LOOK AT THESE IDIOTS!

I think this song does a great job of being a tad ambiguous since it can clearly go either way. It represents the show really well.

The show never sacrificed character development for stakes or action. Kim and Ron and everyone else were just as important and so were all the relationships the show created.

Kim’s home life and school life and personal life carried as much weight as the saving the world arc of an episode. So it’s fitting this song is a perfect mix of saving your friends and saving the world.

**Eppp!! So sorry we forgot to post yesterday. This baby was sitting in the draft folder 😦



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ATLA and How Ethos, Pathos, and Logos Represent Aang, Katara and Sokka


Ethos, pathos and logos are three different types of appeals used to persuade an audience during a speech or argument. They also represent the three leads of Avatar: The Last Airbender: Aang, Katara, and Sokka. But how does each character’s representation of the modes of persuasion affect them, and how does this affect their group dynamic? Let’s find out.

WARNING: Spoilers for the entire series are spread throughout this post. 

Aang = Ethos

Ethos is an appeal to character and/or ethics. It’s about likability and morality, things Aang has in spades. First of all, Aang is adorable and lovable. I mean just look at that face:

atla aang

Secondly, as a pacifist, Aang has a very strong code of ethics, and uses it in everyday life. His morality plays a big role in the Gaang’s adventures, since his quest to stop the war and defeat the Fire Lord is the driving force behind the show. Because of who he is as a character, his ethics often come in direct conflict with the world around him. One great example is when he saves Zuko at the end of season 1, during Siege of the North: Part 2, because he knows it isn’t right to leave him out in the cold, even though he and Zuko are enemies, and Sokka doesn’t quite support his decision:

Aang: “Wait, we can’t just leave him here.”

Sokka: “Sure we can. Let’s go.”

atla wait 1atla wait 2

Aang: “No. If we leave him here, he’ll die.”

atla wait 3

Unfortunately, that same strong code of ethics causes him problems, because it makes him rigid and unwilling to compromise his beliefs. This often conflicts with other members of the Gaang, whose character and code of ethics  differs from his own. In war, tough decisions need to be mad, and Aang has trouble with those, especially the possibility of killing the fire lord (which is tackled in The Phoenix King):

Aang: “Fire Lord Ozai is a horrible person, and the world would probably be better off without him, but there’s got to be another way.”

and later:

Aang: “This goes against everything I learned from the monks. I can’t just go around wiping out people I don’t like.”

Aang feels uncomfortable compromising his pacifist nature and killing the fire lord, even if he is a menace that might need to be killed.

atla aang taking ozai's bending

While he ends up being able to take down the Fire Lord without killing him in the end, it took a lot of soul-searching and research in order to find a way. By the end of the series, Aang learns a lot about morality, and that even though he’s been able to work with his ethics beforehand, it’s not always going to work out that way. But he’ll certainly try.

Katara = Pathos

atla katara will never turn her back on people who need her

Pathos is an emotional appeal to an audience. How does this apply to Katara?

Well, Katara is a very emotionally-driven character. She loves and cares deeply about other people, especially the ones she loves. The Hundred Year War had a huge impact on Katara’s life: the Fire Nation disseminated her culture, killed her mother, and inadvertently took away her father as well, since he fought in the war after losing their mother. Where this might have shattered some, it strengthens Katara and her resolve to help others that the war has affected. The Greek word pathos actually has a dual meaning: “experience” and “suffering,” which applies to Katara well. She’s suffered a lot because of the war, so she better than anyone knows how to rouse sympathy and impact an audience.

Where Aang uses character in his arguments, Katara uses emotion. She’s the one who gives hopeful speeches and empowers those who have been oppressed to stand up for themselves and fight back against the people who have held them down. A great example of this is her speech during Imprisoned (starts at 11:57, ends around 12:48):

Just look at all the emphasis on emotional appeal in this speech!:  “It is your courage they should truly fear! Because it runs deeper than any mine you’ve been forced to dig, any ocean that keeps you far from home! It is the strength of your hearts that make you who you are. Hearts that will remain unbroken when all rock and stone has eroded away.”

Katara appeals to the eartbenders with emotion in two ways: 1) by reminding them of their courage, and their inner strength, and 2) reminding them of what they should fight for: home, family, and their freedom.

While her speech initially doesn’t go over as well as she expects, it ends up having an effect later on, and allows the earthbenders to take back the power from their capturers and break free.

Of course, being driven by emotion isn’t always a good thing. For Katara, it means that when someone hurts her or betrays her, she can be unforgiving and unrelenting against them. She doesn’t forgive easily, and people who have left her – like her father – or hurt her – like Jet, and later Zuko, does – she finds it hard to forgive them and see past what they have done to her.

Example 1: Katara doesn’t believe in Zuko’s redemption arc, because he betrayed them in the past. For Katara, trust is a big thing, and she finds it hard to look past her emotions and realize that Zuko is making an effort to change.

atla katara zuko fight 1atla katara zuko fight 2atla katara zuko fight 3

atla katara zuko fight 4atla katara zuko fight 5


Example #2: Katara bottles up her feelings about her father leaving her and Sokka during the war, which leads to an explosive confrontation later on:

atla katara and dad 1atla katara and dad 2

atla katara and dad 3

It takes her time to move past the hurt she feels, and sometimes she lets it boil and simmer rather than facing her feelings and dealing with them. One of the most important parts of her character arc is learning to forgive, and learning not to hold onto anger and resentment. With her father, talking it out helps. With Zuko, it takes an adventure that teaches her they’re not so different after all, and that he really has changed into someone she – and the rest of the Gaang – can trust.

atla watertribe family feelings

atla zutara hug

Sokka = Logos

atla sokka

Logos is a logical appeal. It means using facts, analogies and evidence to prove a claim to an audience. How does this apply to Sokka?

Sokka is a logic-driven character. He reasons through things. He’s the one who’s always telling Katara and Aang to think things through when they’re about to do something reckless. As he puts it, he is “the plan guy” of the group. While he’s a warrior, he is also brilliant and the group’s schemer. Whether intricate or on the spot, his ideas and instincts often help the Gaang accomplish things they wouldn’t otherwise. This is the guy who realizes that the best way to break the two groups trying to take them down in The Waterbending Scroll is to turn them against each other by offering Aang as incentive, then escaping in the ensuing fight over him. That’s a pretty clever on the spot plan to make.

One of Sokka’s best example of logos is when he reasons out a plan to protect the Northern Air Temple from Fire Nation troops. He commissions weapons to use in the attack, and since it’s an Air Temple, why not use gliders/balloons to dispense them. He also craftily solves how to control the hot air balloons:

atla sokka is a genius atla sokka and the balloon idea

The answer? A literal lid. “A lid is actually the answer. If you control the hot air, you control the war balloon,” he reasons. Very savvy. He also has a great impulsive idea during the attack.

Earlier in the episode, he and another character – the Mechanist – discover an egg-like odor by the temple and realize it’s natural gas. That comes into play later, when they end up throwing their engine into the source of the gas to defend against attackers, as seen here:

atla balloon plan 1atla balloon plan 3

The main problem with Sokka being logic-driven is that sometimes, it backfires, because he often relies more on his own knowledge and instincts, rather than those of others. Example from Warriors of Kyoshi: Sokka doesn’t believe that the Kyoshi Warrior are efficient warriors, because he doesn’t believe women can fight as well as men can. He ends up underestimating them and being horribly wrong because of it.

atla show yourself

atla sokka being sexist

atla suki is amazing

(As you can see, it ends badly.)

But when Sokka’s pride is wounded, he’s willing to admit his mistakes, and more importantly, learn from them to avoid them in the future, as evidenced by his apology to Suki:

Sokka: “I would be honored if you would teach me.”

Suki: “Even if I’m a girl?”

Sokka: “I’m sorry if I insulted you earlier. I was … wrong.”

He’s smart enough to admit he messed up and that he wants to learn from her. Intelligence is good, but respecting other people’s intelligence and input is important as well, and Sokka learns that there’s always more he can be learning as the show goes on.

atla suki sokka training atla sokka learning from suki

Do you think Aang, Katara and Sokka fit the ideals of ethos, pathos and logos? What another animated characters do you think display these traits? Let us know what you think in the comments!

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An Announcement


Hello everyone!

As you can see, this is not a meta. Instead, it is an announcement to let you know we’ll be switching up our posting schedule. The normal cycle we had was two metas per week, one on Tuesdays and one on Saturdays.

The new schedule is a meta every Saturday, so once a week instead of two.

We look forward to seeing you guys on Saturday with a brand new sparkly meta. 🙂

In the meantime, our Twitter and Tumblr are fully stocked with animated goodies for your enjoyment during the week.

totally awesome starkid reaction


Talking Animals, Class, and Rank


Disney made a slew of animal centered films between the Pre-Renaissance Princesses Era and the Renaissance Era. All these movies, surprisingly, tackle similar issues of greed and class. Let’s take a closer look at these films and see what it has to say on the topic, how it says it, and why Disney chose animals as its messengers.

I was a little surprised to notice a whole crop of animal films all made relatively right after each other. Here’s a list:

  • Lady and the Tramp—1955
  • (Sleeping Beauty—1959)
  • 101 Dalmatians—1961
  • (The Sword in the Stone—1963)
  • The Jungle Book—1967
  • The Aristocats—1970
  • Robin Hood—1973
  • The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh—1977
  • The Rescuers—1977
  • The Fox and the Hound—1981

Look at that! 30 years of animal centered tales with one only two human stories. With the exception of some of the latter films—Winnie the Pooh and The Fox and the Hound—all those films have subtle or overt themes of wealth and rank.

Lady and the Tramp
Even the title is laced with that theme of class. While ‘tramp’ is not a title, ‘lady’ certainly is. However, the word ‘tramp’ carries enough weight that you know something negative is being expressed.

It’s the story of two dogs from differing class status. It’s amazing how even the design of the dogs shows this. Lady’s droopy ears appears more like curly hair than fur. She has a shine to her, while Tramp has grey fur and the hair around his mouth looks a little scraggly. Lady also has a fancy collar, almost like jewelry. The design of these dogs effortlessly conveys that there is a difference between them.

lady and the tramp 2 Those could totally be pig tails 😉

lady and the tramp relaxing Lady actually sparkles in comparison to him.

Setting wise, Lady’s home is huge. I think it has a Victorian mansion feel, but I’m not an architecture buff. Compare that lavish setting to Tramp’s rail yard:

lady and the tramp house vs lady and the tramp rail yard

A note about the animation, look at even the difference in the brightness of the colors.

Lady has free reign of the house: from a puppy she climbed upstairs and settled herself right on that big comfy bed.

lady and the tramp bby on bed cute

Tramp, on the total flip side, sleeps outside, near the trains. His morning routine is shown in contrast to Lady’s. While she runs outside and gets the paper (and chases birds, how idyllic), only to be rewarded by Jim Dear with coffee and a donut, Tramp has to bath himself where he can and beg for food.

lady and the tramp lady's comfy bedlady and the tramp tramp's log home

lady and the tramp morning 1lady and the tramp morning 1.2

She has love and he’s alone and excuse me while I:

it hurts so much reaction

Later, when Tramp wanders into Lady’s posh neighborhood, he calls it, “Snob hill.” That’s one of the biggest details that always sticks out to me. Not only are they of different ranks, but there is conflict between them. There is dislike, maybe jealousy, probably gross assumptions on both sides. Tramp finds the fences around trees absurd and expects there to be a lid on every trash can. He refers to them as “the leash and collar set” and assumes they’re total bores.

lady and the tramp fence on every tree Look at the fences 😉 Tramp disapproves.

Lady’s friends Trusty and Jock definitely have prejudices against Tramp simply because he doesn’t come from a well off family like them. Jock calls him a “mongrel,” partly because he doesn’t like Tramp scaring Lady, but also just out of initial dislike. Their parting words, though, have to be the best.

“The name’s Jock.”
“Okay, Jock.”
“Heather Lad O’ Glencairn to you!”

lady and the tramp angry jock

Like Jock has an actual title and Tramp is so beneath him!

But let’s move onto the actual relationship that develops between Lady and Tramp. The love to end all loves! Not really. Kinda. Anyway!

“What are you doing on this side of the tracks?” If any (all) of you were like, “Mic, you’re taking this way too seriously,” Tramp actually admits there is a class difference. SO HA!

victory screech reaction

Besides Jock, Trusty, and Lady, there are two other characters that symbolize the upper class: the Siamese Cats. I don’t want to say too much about them because they are a pretty racist interpretation, but they do relate in terms of class.The Siamese Cats are our example of the upper class that live up to Tramp’s assumptions. Lady is the heroine, we root for her. She’s good and kind and we watch her learn about babies and step out of her comfort zone. She’s the one mistreated by Aunt Sarah. Lady is not the definition of “Snob Hill.”

lady and the tramp status

She definitely cares about her appearance and the fact that she has a collar values a lot to her. But she’s not shallow; there’s more to her.

lady and the tramp morning birdslady and the tramp newspaper morning

She’s open to Tramp’s pessimistic view of babies when she first meets him, she accepts his help getting the muzzle off, and she falls in love with him. So we need characters that uphold Tramp’s worldview and thus we have the Siamese Cats.

The differences between classes are also seen outside Lady and Tramp’s relationship. One of the biggest threats is being caught by the dog snatcher and sent to the pound. Who is at risk for being sent to jail? Unlicensed dogs, aka lower class dogs. We can easily relate this to being homeless or living in poverty since any “money” one had would go to securing food and shelter, not buying a collar.

lady and the tramp hiding from snatcher

“The pressure’s really on, signs all over town.” Tramp’s words imply that this has been building for awhile and now things have really gotten out of control. The order also comes from City Council, which is similar to situations we’ve seen all over history. The government mistreating poorer classes instead of finding ways to help them. Yes, I am seriously seeing a movie about adorable dogs as having immense symbolism. Just go with it. Tramp also does not reach “Snob Hill” until he runs from the dog snatcher. The dog snatcher was not putting up signs in the wealthy area of town.

When Lady is caught without a collar, we finally see the situation at the pound. It turns out to be a kill shelter (which, oh my gosh, dark much, Disney?), but that also tells us how different classes are treated. Lady receives special treatment—the dog snatcher takes pity on her because she doesn’t appear like a street dog. He finds her owner right away. The other dogs are not so lucky and even appear to be wearing jail suits.

lady and the tramp jail

After Tramp gets sent to the pound by Aunt Sarah, the dog snatcher says they’d been looking for “this one” for months, which confirms what I said above about it seeming like unleashed dogs were being targeted for awhile now. The fact that Aunt Sarah, the dog snatcher, Jock, and the Darlings immediately assume Tramp was attacking a baby, that there was no other explanation, further proves how the upper class looks down on the lower class.

lady and the tramp evil rat EVIL RAT! RUN!

But when Jock finds out the truth, he is ashamed and says, “I misjudged him… badly.” He’s not just talking about assuming the worst of Tramp in this moment. He’s referring to the first meeting and everything after.

There’s also meaning in having Tramp referred to as “this one.” Tony gave Tramp a name–Butch–because he values Tramp. But the dog snatcher does not. I believe he calls Lady “pretty” when she’s in the pound, proving his bias against wealthy vs poor. The names we choose to call people (dogs, whatever) says a lot about a person.

But by the end, Tramp and Lady are together and happy with a litter of puppies. Tramp gets a collar, joining Lady’s class. I found it interesting that many early novels followed this idea of a courtship plot, that eventually ended in marriage and some social mobility (one person entering another class through marriage). That is essentially what happens here.

lady and the tramp end family 1

Tramp and Lady fall in love, get together, and Tramp moves into a new class. He’s accepted by Lady’s family and Jock and Trusty. He’s no longer under threat from the dog snatcher.

lady and the tramp end collar

Lady and the Tramp is a really interesting film since it delves into these issues. There’s prejudice and class differences and puppy love. Was that a pun? I don’t know.

that's not funny reaction Tough crowd.

Class/Wealth in Other Films
My original plan was to talk about how each movie displayed class/rank/greed. Maybe I’ll come back to it at another point and go more in depth for certain movies. But I think just by looking at them, you can see for yourself.

101 Dalmatians is more about greed than class. Cruella lets her desire for a fur coat get the better of her, stealing puppies to get what she wanted. Maybe there’s something to say about class, since she despises Roger and makes fun of his music while thinking herself so refined.

The Jungle Book is all about class/rank since we have man vs animal and also hierarchy in the jungle. The animals fear Shere Khan. I’m not actually sure where King Louie stands in relation to everyone—it’s been awhile, I need to watch the movie again. The animals are initially reluctant to accept Mowgli because he’s human; they don’t trust him. Purely because of his class (or species… whatever).

The Aristocats is also about greed, especially because of the evil butler dude that wants to inherit money he doesn’t even deserve. BUT, look at that title! It’s a direct pun on aristocrats, which, um, is a term used in relation to class and wealth. Even the name Duchess, as our mommy cat is called, relates to class. It’s an interesting parallel to Lady, who is also named a title while Tramp and Thomas O’Malley the Alley Cat are just names that convey something about the character. Subtle, you are not, Disney.

Robin Hood might as well have my theme tattooed on its forehead. It’s all about someone stealing from the rich to feed the poor. CLASS, CLASS, CLASS. No explanations needed. I do wonder why Disney chose to adapt this story by using animals, though. Was it just to continue with their theme of animal movies?

So Winnie the Pooh totally has nothing to do with the theme (as far as I know?), but I included it because it was an animal film.

The Rescuers I’m fuzzy on, but I remember Madame Medusa trying to steal diamonds or something.

The Fox and The Hound is another animal movie and I think this is where Disney kinda strayed away from the class theme. Winnie the Pooh didn’t have those themes present, The Rescuers did, but wasn’t as steeped in it, though it was also an animal film. Fox and the Hound definitely had undertones of discrimination based on species (class, if you REALLY want to try to make an argument for it), but wasn’t really about rank and wealth. And alas, the talking animal movie trend was put to rest.

I think it’s really interesting this trend developed. Did Disney find it easier to explore these themes using animals as stand ins for humans? Can animals get away with more than humans? Was Disney able to discuss these themes in more subtle ways by going this route?

Can you see themes of class/wealth in these movies? What do you think? Do you have a favorite film of the Talking Animals Era?

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Mother Doesn’t Know Best: Exploring Mother Gothel and Rapunzel’s Relationship


Last week, my family and I watched Into the Woods. The story between the Witch and Rapunzel got me thinking about Tangled, and the relationship between Mother Gothel and Rapunzel. We at Animated Meta have wanted to write about their relationship dynamic for some time now, so when better than the present? Today, we’ll be tackling the dynamic between Mother Gothel and Rapunzel, the abuse involved, and how Rapunzel breaks free of the cycle.

A lot of people forget that abuse isn’t always physical. In the case of the relationship between Mother Gothel and Rapunzel, most of the abuse is psychological, and has damaging effects on Rapunzel. Psychological abuse – or emotional abuse, as it’s sometimes called – can include:

  • Ignoring
  • Rejecting
  • Isolating
  • Exploiting or corrupting
  • Verbally abusing
  • Terrorizing
  • Neglecting the child (American Humane Society)

Now, not all of these necessarily apply to every case, but a lot of these most definitely apply to how Mother Gothel treats Rapunzel.

Exploiting or corrupting

As defined by the American Humane Association, this applies when “a child is taught, encouraged or forced to develop inappropriate or illegal behaviors.” I’m not sure if this definition applies precisely to the situation, but the term exploitation definitely does.

The whole reason Mother Gothel kidnaps Rapunzel at the start of the movie is to exploit her. If she wanted a child to raise, she could have adopted one. But she kidnaps Rapunzel because Rapunzel has something that she needs: magic. She wants Rapunzel for the magic that her hair provides, because that magic can keep her young and prolong her life. She uses Rapunzel as a tool to extend her lifespan beyond natural means, and threatens Rapunzel once Rapunzel won’t willingly use her magic to help her. That’s exploitation to a T.

tangled reaction WHAT THE FUCK

Ignoring and neglecting

Ignoring and neglecting aren’t touched on as much in the movie, but Mother Gothel does go off on little journeys, while leaving Rapunzel to her own devices. She ignores Rapunzel’s desires (like leaving the tower) and writes them off as ridiculous. Example: “You want to go outside? Oh why, Rapunzel?”

She also abandons Rapunzel after Rapunzel stands up to her, telling her not to come crying to her when Flynn breaks her heart. Love is supposed to be unconditional, but Mother Gothel’s love has conditions, and when they’re not followed, Rapunzel is shut off from her love. That’s terrible parenting and unfair to the child.


One of the most common tactics of an abuser is isolation, and that’s exactly what Mother Gothel does to Rapunzel. She raises Rapunzel away in a tower far from any civilization, and keeps her confined by fear. When Tangled begins, Rapunzel is about sixteen. That’s an insanely long time to be isolated, on your own, with only one person (and a chameleon) for companionship. Naturally, Rapunzel has started to go stir-crazy by the start of the movie. There’s only so much one person can do in a confined space because they start to feel entrapped. “When Will My Life Begin?” is about Rapunzel’s desire for adventure, but it’s also about her feelings of isolation and how she feels trapped, as evidenced by the end of the song:

Tomorrow night, lights will appear

Just like they do on my birthday each year

What is it like out there where they glow?

Now that I’m older,

Mother might just

Let me go

The wistful sadness in her voice at the end shows how big of a desire this is for Rapunzel, and how often it’s rejected by her mother. She hopes her mother will let her leave, but knows she probably won’t. And sure enough, instead of letting her go, Mother Gothel tries to terrify her away from the outside world by telling her that “it’s a scary world out there” and highlighting the more negative aspects of the world outside in “Mother Knows Best:”

It’s a scary world out there

Ruffians, thugs

Poison ivy, quicksand

Cannibals and snakes, the plague

tangled pascal

It’s telling too that Mother Gothel isolates Rapunzel while the song is going on. She closes the window and plunges the room into darkness, forcing Rapunzel to rely on her in order to find her way and using Rapunzel’s fear in order to coax her into staying with her. That’s some hardcore isolation tactics, ones that make it clear why Rapunzel takes as long as she does to leave the tower. Who wouldn’t be scared shitless by all of those dramatics?

tangled fear

Verbally abusing and rejecting

These two go hand-in-hand, so I decided to put them together. Rejecting is an “active refusal to respond to a child’s needs”; verbally abusing involves “belittling, shaming, ridiculing, or verbally threatening the child” (American Humane Association). Mother Gothel does all four of these things in spades.

tangled gothel bitch 2

Belittling: Whenever Mother Gothel talks to Rapunzel, she uses a patronizing tone, like she’s a small child, even though Rapunzel’s a teenager. She calls her “fragile as a flower, still a little sapling, just a sprout” and uses nicknames like pet, darling, and dear, which come off as condescending. She also mocks her newfound growth in the “Mother Knows Best Reprise:”

Rapunzel knows best

Rapunzel’s so mature now

Such a clever grown-up miss

Also, the phrase “mother knows best” is patronizing in itself. It implies that Rapunzel’s opinions and feelings don’t hold merit, because Mother Gothel’s are superior.

tangled gothel bitch

Shaming: Mother Gothel shames Rapunzel into staying in the tower. “Mother Knows Best” is a great example because while she preys on Rapunzel’s fears, she also manipulates her using their bond as mother and daughter:

Go ahead, get trampled by a rhino

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

We know Mother Gothel doesn’t really feel this way, so her words are purely for Rapunzel’s benefit, in order to shame her and make her feel guilt for wanting to leave her alone in the tower. It’s shameful behavior.


This is one of the biggest issues highlighted in the movie. The way Mother Gothel speaks to Rapunzel, and the way that she uses her insecurities against her, is so cruel. She preys on Rapunzel’s appearance, calling her chubby and sloppy. She jabs at her personality, calling her ditzy, gullible, naïve, immature. She tells her that the world outside will “eat her alive” and that it’s a “cruel dark place” but the truth is that Mother Gothel is all of these things. She is the monster eating Rapunzel’s spirit alive, and the tower is a cruel dark place she cannot escape.

There’s a great symbolic moment, when Rapunzel is lighting her way with the candles, and Mother Gothel comes up right behind her and snuffs out each light. It symbolizes the way that Mother Gothel’s harsh words smother Rapunzel’s light and spirit, feeding into her lack of confidence about both herself and the world outside her tower.

tangled candle symbolism

However, she can’t suppress Rapunzel’s spirit forever, as seen in the Mother Knows Best Reprise, when Rapunzel takes a stand and refuses to let her mother continue belittling and ridiculing her. It’s also important to note why the change is so drastic. There are a few reasons. First, from “Mother Knows Best” to the reprise, Rapunzel has had time in the outside world. She’s discovered that it’s not really as cruel or dark as she was told, and she also grows into herself as a person. Second, Rapunzel gets some human interaction, and experiences a much healthier relationship experience with Eugene.

tangled picture bbys

it's kind of cute castle reaction

While Eugene is a thief, he’s also someone who’s open with Rapunzel. He doesn’t belittle her or ridicule her. He respects her feelings and her dreams. He is someone she can trust, and her being able to open up and trust someone who isn’t using her as a fountain of youth is a really liberating experience for her. Eugene feels the same way, accepting her trust and bestowing his in return, as seen below. This is important because Rapunzel finally has a two way relationship, where both parties care.

tangled truthtangled truth 2

Rapunzel is beginning to distinguish healthy relationships vs. unhealthy ones, and encountering Mother Gothel after spending time with Eugene shows her the truth: mother doesn’t know best.

The most telling aspect of Rapunzel’s spirit coming out is when Mother Gothel attempts to tell her that mother knows best, and Rapunzel cuts her off before she can even finish with a firm “no!” That’s huge for Rapunzel, who was always unwilling to stand her ground against her in the past. Before, she had reservations, but would eventually fold. Now, Rapunzel knows better, and she won’t let Mother Gothel manipulate or ridicule her any longer.

standing ovation reaction

Verbally threatening: While Mother Gothel ridicules Rapunzel, she doesn’t outright threaten her until later on in the movie. However, there is a veiled threat in “Mother Knows Best” that I didn’t catch at first:

When it’s too late, you’ll see, just wait

It’s subtle, but definitely a threat. Mother Gothel doesn’t get more overt until later, when her control over Rapunzel begins slipping away, and then she decides to escalate matters by threatening Flynn’s life so that Rapunzel will leave with her, which ties into…


Terrorizing involves fear and creating an environment that terrifies the child, which Gothel does earlier on in the movie when she tries to make Rapunzel scared of the world outside of her tower. But terrorizing can also mean “placing the child or the child’s loved one in a dangerous or chaotic situation.” How does that tie into the plot? Well, it describes the end of the movie, where Mother Gothel threatens Eugene’s safety and stabs him to hurt Rapunzel and also shatter her spirit, so that Rapunzel will go with her.

tangled you were my new dream

Rapunzel agrees if she allows her to heal Flynn before she leaves, essentially playing into Mother Gothel’s manipulations. Eugene cutting Rapunzel’s hair breaks her free of Gothel’s control, because now Gothel has no leverage over her, and also no way to continue healing herself. The cycle of terror ends with her death, and once Flynn is healed, Rapunzel has a chance at a new start and healthier relationships with her parents and Eugene.

tangled hug

Work Cited:

American Humane Association. (n.d.). Emotional Abuse. Retrieved April 6, 2015, from American Humane Association:

Do you think Tangled did a good job at portraying psychological abuse? What do you think of Mother Gothel and Rapunzel’s relationship? Let us know in the comments!

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