Category Archives: cinderella

Fear and Love at First Sight: An Examination of Disney Princesses and Their Princes

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Ariel and Eric are probably my Disney OTP (besides Esmeralda/Phoebus and Jane/Tarzan and Jasmine/Aladdin and Pocahontas/John Smith *cough*). I, and I’m sure many of you, have wanted to meet our Prince Charming with a perfect Love at First Sight moment we frequently associate with Disney. But I took a closer look at all the Princess/Prince meetings and um… well… I noticed a lot of trends that don’t really sit well with me. Let’s explore!

Pre-Renaissance Films
The Pre-Renaissance princess movies are Snow White, Cinderella, and Sleeping Beauty. All three meetings are a very typical ‘love at first sight’  storybook scene. However, in the case of Snow White and Aurora, their prince appears out of nowhere, drawn by their voice and startling them. Snow White actually runs into her castle because she’s so scared, while Aurora pulls away. The meeting in Cinderella is less creepy since it happens at a party, where one would expect to meet new people.

Though Cinderella isn’t singing like the other two princesses are when they meet their princes, music is still an important element in their meeting. Cinderella is the first film where dancing is introduced as both an important storytelling and romantic element.

cinderella and her princey dancing

There is also a song, and though it is sung with the impression it is Cinderella and her prince, they’re not actually singing in the scene. Instead, their meeting has a narrator of sorts, the Duke. In contrast, Snow White and Aurora are both singing alone and then have a duet with the prince (Snow White’s doesn’t last very long though, since she runs off when the prince startles her).

Snow White and Sleeping Beauty have many elements of their meetings in common. Firstly, both princes are on horseback. Animals are involved in both, with Aurora dancing with her owl friend and her other critters watching. In Snow White, Snow is singing to the doves. While Cinderella has mice friends and they did take her to the ball, they’re not present in this scene.

The settings for all three meetings are also similar. Snow White and Cinderella both happen in a castle and while Sleeping Beauty happens in the woods, they both stare at the castle in the distance afterwards.

sleeping beauty cuddling

The audience knows that castle is Aurora’s home, where she should be. Where Philip will have to battle his way to her and free her from Maleficent so they can be reunited. Cinderella meets the prince in his castle, where she ultimately belongs because she’s so good. It’s her escape from her stepmother. And while Snow White runs from the prince into the castle, at the end she leaves with him.

Setting is a theme we’re going to see repeated as well as some other points I made above.

To recap the pre-Renaissance Love at First Sight moments: running away, music, instant attraction, and castles.

star wars uhh reaction

Renaissance Films
We skip ahead a bunch of years and come to The Little Mermaid. TLM is the first film where we have a sort of ‘two meetings’ thing happen (it’ll make sense as we go on).

The first difference, and my favorite, is what draws Ariel and Eric together. Where Prince Charming and Philip were drawn by the sound of a mysterious voice and that’s how they find their princess, Ariel goes to the surface simply because she wants to see the ship.

little mermaid we're out to discover Exactly, Scuttle.

Then, she notices the fireworks and her curiosity skyrockets. For the first time in Disney Princess History, neither of them were looking for/drawn to each other. However, the only piece of Ariel Eric has is her voice, thus the trend does live on. We’ll come back to this.

Music too is involved here, though neither of them is singing. Eric is playing a flute, while crewmembers dance and play instruments. Another common theme is the presence of animals: Max (Eric’s dog), and Scuttle. Scuttle also marks the first meeting where a princess has a friend present. Aurora is with her forest buddies, but they’re just passively watching everything happening. Scuttle is actively involved, talking with Ariel throughout. If only Ariel could have had another mermaid as a friend, or maybe even one of her sisters. (Princesses need friends, too!)

Ariel watches Eric, much like Philip and Charming watched Aurora and Snow. It’s love at first sight for her. However, I give her a pass because she actually sees Eric acting like a decent human being. She sees that he has the same lust for adventure she does (when Grimsby tries to tell him he needs to marry and he’s not having it), she sees that he’s humble (disgusted by the giant statue of himself), creative/artistic (the flute), AND is a total sweetheart when it comes to his dog. Please tell me who would not turn to mush at a real life Eric?

my body is ready reaction my body is ready hook reaction my body is ready copy reaction

Exactly. Boys and their dog get me every time. Philip and Charming just watched Aurora and Snow singing and talking to animals. Neither of those things seem very healthy.

But then, BOOM! Chaos. A storm! The ship EXPLODES! Ariel rescues Eric after witnessing him selflessly going back for his dog. Now she knows he’s courageous. When he wakes up on shore, Eric finally sees Ariel for the first time. She probably looked like an angel to him, with the sun hitting her the way it did and her perfect voice. Before they can talk, she’s startled by Max and Grimsby—just like the pre-Renaissance ladies running away.

little mermaid fuck mermaids reaction

The second time they meet is when Ariel has legs. They’re on the beach this time, with the castle in the distance. That is where Ariel is going to end up, visually illustrated as Eric offers her his support so she can walk with him. But the first time Ariel saw him, he was on a ship, perfectly straddling the line between their two worlds. They’re also on a beach, near the water, Ariel’s world, but firmly on land, Eric’s world. The castle visual remains in their first mutual meeting, while Ariel seeing him on a ship before is also significant.

The meeting is again facilitated by Max (animals shipping Disney couples since 1937!), who spooks Ariel onto the rock. Max is barking and unfamiliar and chasing her, so she’s rightfully a little scared.

And now here is the most important discovery I made: Every princess is scared during their so called “Love at First Sight” scenes. In Snow White a stranger pops out of nowhere and Snow literally runs away and barricades herself in her castle. This screams fear. Aurora is also scared, running and hiding behind a tree.In Cinderella, yes, it is definitely way less creepy and she does not present the same amount of fear. However, Charming approaches her from behind and she jumps when he touches her, hesitating before accepting. We can argue Cinderella is more shy and coy. If we had to pick one as the exception to the rule, I’d pick her.

cinderella and prince

Now Ariel is never fearful around Eric like Snow, Cinderella, and Aurora were. But when the ship begins to burn, she realizes there’s danger. And later, when Grimsby and Max arrive, she’s scared of them and also what would happen if they knew she was a mermaid. So far the princesses have either been scared of their suitors or there is an element of danger surrounding them. This theme is going to come up in every single movie.

this displeases me reaction

Their second meeting is kind of a twist on the “Love at First Sight” trope. Though Eric is clearly drawn to her, he’s disappointed when he thinks she’s not the girl that saved him and so he tries not to like her that way. Spoiler alert: he fails.

little mermaid prince-eric-laughing

Next we have Beauty and the Beast and I’m going to jump right into fear because um… Belle and the Beast do NOT have a love at first sight moment at all. Belle is terrified of the Beast. He’s holding her father captive, slithering around in the dark, and yelling and threatening her. He physically grabs her and throws her to the ground.

Like Ariel saving Eric during their meeting, Belle is also trying to save someone she loves: her father. A trend of heroism develops here and continues into the Renaissance era.

The setting here is also a castle and instead of animals, there are inanimate objects everywhere. Their gossip is an important aspect of the scene because they’re talking about needing Belle to save them as she’s trying to save her father. Ultimately, this castle needs her and she’s accepted in it in a way she never was in her small town. And then of course, it also becomes her home, too.

frozen me... feels reaction

This meeting is the first one when the prince isn’t immediately visible to the princess. Belle needs to tell the Beast to “come into the light.” This is something we’ll see repeated with Tangled. Also important to note, this is the first meeting with no music involved. The Beast isn’t drawn to Belle’s voice, nor is there a romantic song they sing together like in Snow White, Cinderella, or Sleeping Beauty. Perhaps this is because Belle does not fall in love this version of the Beast. She only cares for him after he changes his attitude and stops acting like such a dickwad. That is when they have their duet.

All right, let’s head to our next film: Aladdin. Like our other princesses being scared, Jasmine is about to have her HAND CUT OFF. Yes, she’s terrified. Jasmine comes from a very clinical environment where all her needs are met. No one has ever raised a hand to her and here is this giant man with a knife and she has no idea why she’s in trouble. Cue: terror.

Also cue: ALADDIN!

I mentioned this theme of heroism in the Renaissance first meetings and here’s another one: Aladdin saving Jasmine. This first meeting builds on the one in TLM where Ariel sees Eric being a decent, normal dude. In Aladdin, he sees her giving an apple to a child (just like he did with bread!), so while he is clearly drawn by her looks (“Wow.”), there is something deeper there. The scene also establishes that he and Jasmine work well together to get out of a very bad situation. She questions him initially, but plays along right away. However, Aladdin saving Jasmine reverses the mini-trend of women saving men.

Like other meetings, animals are involved (Abu). There’s also a familiar shot of Aladdin watching Jasmine similar to Philip and Charming and yes, it’s cute, but it is also is a tad creepy.

aladdin watching jasmine

There is no song involved and here is where the trend of saving that big duet moment happens. Well, it technically started in Beauty and the Beast (Something There happens later), but it continues here, thus making it a trend. While the pre-Renaissance films where all “Love at First Sight” these later films added more obstacles to their love stories, so while there was instant attraction, they didn’t immediately act on it. The importance of voice dies out in Aladdin. While singing voices led men to women (Snow White, Aurora, Ariel) or there was singing during their meeting (Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty), that common thread is cut.

Aladdin and Jasmine meet in the marketplace. I like the symbolism here again as they’re between worlds. Like Eric was on a ship, a piece of land on water, in between, Jasmine and Aladdin are meeting in the middle, too. Jasmine has left the palace and is among common people, while Aladdin is in the “city” so to speak and later brings Jasmine to the outskirts, where he lives. And of course, they look at the palace, like Aurora and Philip. Aladdin longs to live there and with Jasmine at his side, not knowing she’s the princess, he will eventually.

aladdin

This leads to Pocahontas, where John Smith PULLS A GUN ON HER. Pocahontas is already wary (but curious) because John is a stranger and invader and now this. She doesn’t physically appear scared, she seems calm the entire time.

pocahontas in the mist

And even if she is not afraid of John Smith, neither were Ariel and Jasmine. They were scared because of what was happening around them and the element of danger. A gun pointed at you definitely qualifies as an element of danger present in a so called LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT meeting.

aladdin what

The mood changes quickly, though. After she runs off, like the pre-Renaissance princesses (and Ariel), a more traditional first meeting happens. The music and the flying leaves when their hands meet is more romantic and dreamy. That is the scene we see their attraction happen.

pocahontas holding hands

This meeting brings back a musical element since John was just singing Mine, Mine, Mine. There’s also animals present as Meeko and Flit watch. Pocahontas falls back on a lot of old tropes. However, in a move only Philip and Eric have made, John Smith asks for her name, which I am very proud of.

The setting here is the wilderness, something we haven’t seen since Sleeping Beauty. Pocahontas is not with her tribe or by Mother Willow, so she’s out on her own, kind of in her own space. And John Smith is new, so he has no place that’s familiar yet. In a way, they both meet in a strange land to signify the new world they’ll create together.

From there we move to Mulan. Like Beauty and the Beast and their decidedly not “Love at First Sight” meeting, the same applies here. And like Eric thinking the girl he met on the beach wasn’t his savior, Shang of course has no idea Mulan is about to blow his mind.

reaction giggling noise

There is a huge emphasis on names in this scene, something other meetings have lacked. Similar to how Jasmine and Ariel never feared Aladdin or Eric, Mulan isn’t afraid of Shang, but he is the authority figure and she’s clearly frazzled. However, the element of danger here is the fact that Mulan was just the target of a legit fight. The entire camp has been fighting with Mulan buried underneath them. Her meeting with Shang is also her first real test at being a man so she’s understandably nervous. Still, it fits an unnerving trend of princesses being afraid or under threat in their supposedly “Love at First Sight” moments.

Mushu is the animal present in the scene. Their setting is also out in nature, getting ready for war. I think this ties back into Mulan’s own personal story and I like that.

Modern Films
Now we hit the most recent princess films. Princess and the Frog obviously meets the animal trend since Naveen is a frog when they meet. Like TLM, though, they also have two meetings. There is a quick scene in the beginning when Naveen is playing music and trying to be charming, but Tiana is not having it. However, fear is back in their second meeting.

Tiana is startled because there’s a talking frog! And also, what was he doing on the balcony? He was just there, like the pre-Renaissance princes happened to be. In something we see continued in Tangled, Tiana physically assaults Naveen with books since she’s so scared. Naveen does apologize for scaring her, which is nice, but that’s probably because he needs her to kiss him.

Several new things continue to arise in this film. Tiana is concerned for her friend Lottie who is dancing with a fake prince Naveen. Of course, no other princess has needed to be concerned for their human friends since they never had one before (besides Pocahontas).

princess and the frog bestie hug

This is definitely not a “Love at First Sight” scene, but still, it’s the only one where they kiss as soon as they meet! Again, the plot hinges on Tiana kissing him so there’s a reason for it, but she did still kiss him. Like Ariel, Belle, and Aladdin, the thread of heroism returns since Tiana was trying to save Naveen. New and old elements combine in Princess and the Frog.

Our trip though Disney Princess History takes us to Tangled. I touched on it previously, but Rapunzel smacks Flynn with a frying pan since she’s so scared of the strange man that climbs into her room, a la Tiana. Flynn also shares some similarities with Naveen. Naveen is definitely more flirty (seriously go watch that scene over with this in mind), but Flynn tries to use his smolder.

tangled meeting

When it fails, he drops the act and just wants to get as far away from Rapunzel as possible.

Unlike any other scene, except maybe Mulan, their first meeting is more about Rapunzel proving herself to Gothel. After she hits him with the frying pan, cowers behind a mannequin, and checks him for sharp pointy teeth, she traps him in her closet to prove to Gothel she can take care of herself.

tangled pascal

In between she also tries on the tiara he stole and while it maybe seems familiar to her, it is quickly forgotten when Gothel returns. Later, after Flynn assures her he wants nothing to do with her hair, Rapunzel is confused. After all, Gothel swore her everyone would be out to get her. But like he also had normal teeth instead of terrifying ones, Flynn represents her freedom from Gothel. He guides her out of her isolation.

As discussed, like TLM there are two meetings. One where Rapunzel sees him (like Ariel watching the ship) and one where they actually talk for the first time. Tangled also draws other parallels to films like Beauty and the Beast. Rapunzel is first cloaked in darkness and steps into the light so Flynn can see her. While the Beast hid himself away because he believed himself hideous and unlovable, Rapunzel did it partly out of fear and suspicion.

As the pre-Renaissance films had an emphasis on music, a reprise of Rapunzel’s solo song follows their meeting and her subsequent leaving of the tower.

tangled now's when my life begins copy

And like the Renaissance films, their big duet comes later.

Their meeting is her tower because, as I said, Flynn represents the world and life Rapunzel can have. They leave together to see the lights.

reaction dead from the feels

Finally, this brings us to Frozen. Frozen has two meetings and while I considered if I had to include Anna meeting Hans since he’s not her true love, I rewatched the scene to see if it played with any tropes I’d already noticed or diverged from the usual meetings as a sign that Hans was not a good guy.

What I found was this:

-the Hans/Anna meeting plays out very cutesy and storybook-like (what you’d expect of a “Love at First Sight” scene)

frozen gorgeous wait what

-danger is present since she gets HIT BY A HORSE and falls onto a boat that nearly topples into a lake

-prince on horseback trope reappears (Snow White, Sleeping Beauty)

-no visible castle but Anna’s status is immediately told + mentions of the coronation

This takes us to Anna meeting Kristoff. Now, Frozen bothered me since it hated on previous Disney love stories. You’d expect then that this meeting would be very different from the others. However, Anna has the same fear as the other meetings discussed. Kristoff is covered in snow, not clearly visible like the Beast, and she backs away from him.

frozen awkward

Like Tiana, she expresses concern over her friend/sister since she has a person she can do that for! While Tiana wanted to know who Lottie was dancing with if he was with her, Anna wanted to know what Kristoff knew about Elsa.

This scene is a contrast to the perfect meeting she has with Hans. While Hans is perfect and charming, Kristoff is gruff. He doesn’t make a good first impression on her or Oaken since he gets tossed out of the store. Similarly, Mulan makes a horrid first impression as the center of a fight and unable to pick a name for herself. It’s not a traditional “Love at First Sight” scene but we’ve already seen several of those (Mulan, Beauty and the Beast, Princess and the Frog).

It even has an animal involved since Kristoff needs to buy carrots for Sven and Sven is waiting for him right outside the shop. Clearly, Frozen’s “you can’t marry someone you just met” love story doesn’t really hold up when compared to other princess meetings.

Conclusion
Wow! That was a lot of films! Okay, so the trends that carried through all were DANGER! FEAR! (which is great… not) and the presence of animals. We’ve also seen the importance of music and setting. All the eras also had their own particular features like heroism and the removal of a song while couples met. In the more recent films we saw a lot of physical humor added, even in Frozen, where Kristoff is thrown from the shop and hits his head on the sign. But the eras also weaved in and out of each other with similar aspects reappearing like women running away or light vs dark.

Some stand out meetings, I think, are Tangled, where there’s less focus on them as a couple and more focus on Rapunzel beginning to realize some of the things Gothel had told her were wrong. I also loved how Ariel saw Eric for the first time and it was a total surprise since she was just excited about the fireworks. Still, she got to see several sides of him (his adorableness with his dog, his disgust at a statue in his honor) that told her something about who he was instead of the three previous couples before her where there was no depth to why they fancied each other.

Fun Facts:

-Sleeping Beauty is the first film where Aurora is actually like, “What the hell you’re a stranger!!” (Not really, but kinda.) Points for that!

-Snow is the only princess that actively wishes for love and then POOF: Prince.

-Cinderella is the first film there’s an iconic dance.

-Prince Philip is the first prince to ask his love for her NAME upon meeting her (though it happens after Once Upon a Dream). Eric asks Ariel for her name during their second meeting. I think it’s hilarious while the Prince in Cinderella is begging her to stay he never once asks for her name.

-Belle and Anna both have two suitors, one being the villain of their film. While Anna and Hans have a first meeting scene, Belle and Gaston do not since they already know each other.

-Snow White and Tiana are both wishing, one by a wishing well and the other on a star, when they meet their prince.

-The setting in Princess and the Frog is a mansion, instead of a castle. There is also a party like in Cinderella.


Which is your favorite True Love Meeting? What do you think of all these common threads? What are some other fun facts you noticed?

Follow Animated Meta on Tumblr and Twitter. See you next week!

Cheers,

M&M

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Princesses Need Friends Too: The Problematic Lack of Positive Female Interactions (and Friends) in Disney Princess Movies

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Disney only has two sets of female friendship in the Disney princess movies. I repeat: only two sets of female friends. That’s really, really bad. Come to think of it, Disney Princess movies in general are lacking in positive female interactions. Either we get a lack of women present, or their relationships are antagonistic in nature. There are a few proud exceptions, but not many.

Don’t believe me? Let’s take a quick trip through the halls of Disney Princess history and explore the nature of female relationships.

 

Snow White and the Seven Dwarves

The only two women in this movie are Snow White and her stepmother, the Evil Queen. And Snow White’s stepmother spends the majority of the movie trying to kill her because of her beauty, which doesn’t make for a healthy relationship. It’s interesting that the only two women we have in this film have an antagonistic relationship relating to beauty and power; it says a lot about women in society, who are often set up as competitors rather than coworkers. It’s a no for Snow.

mary margaret says no

Cinderella

Good news: Cinderella has a stepmother and stepsisters, which is a step up from Snow White. Bad news: her stepmother is the worst, and her stepsisters aren’t much better.

cinderella and stepmother

Instead of being treated like family, Cinderella is made into a servant by her stepfamily and constantly put down/ridiculed by them. There’s another antagonistic set-up here, with Cinderella’s stepsisters seeking marriage to the prince, and Cinderella inadvertedly coming into competition with them when she meets Prince Charming and falls for him.

There are also a few female mice, but Cinderella doesn’t seem particularly close to them. 😦 So no.

Sleeping Beauty

Our first sign of positive interaction: Sleeping Beauty gives us Briar Rose (aka Aurora) and the three fairies that raise her in seclusion to protect her from Maleficent. While the fairies tend to be a little oblivious, they mean well, and they take good care of Briar Rose. From the few interactions we see of theirs, it’s evident they care a lot about her, and want her to be happy. The surprise party for her birthday is a great example. Despite their no magic rule, they’re willing to go around it to make her present and her cake the absolute best. Nothing but the best for their Briar Rose!

sleeping beautiy cake candles life copy

They also play a key role in getting Prince Phillip free and giving him the tools he needs to defeat Maleficent, so that they can save Aurora. And then there’s that sweet scene when they tuck Aurora in under the sleeping curse, much like a parent tucking their child in.

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While Aurora doesn’t have female friends, since she’s secluded in the woods, the fairies are maternal figures to her, so I’m going to fill this one under “sort of.” It could be better, but it’s progress.

The Little Mermaid

Ariel falls into the start of the “daughters with missing mothers and great relationships with their fathers” trend. Guys, I think Ariel’s relationship with Triton is awesome. And I think it’s important that Disney conveys so many great father-daughter relationships in their films. However, the lack of mother figures is really depressing, and I think it’s sad that like in most of the Disney princess movies, Ariel has a mother who isn’t around. It’s also sad that Ariel is one of seven sisters, and barely even interacts with her sisters throughout the movie. A woman she does interact with a lot is Ursula, the female antagonist, who spends the movie plotting against Ariel, steals her voice, and attempts to sabotage her relationship with Eric. No for Ariel.

little mermaid crying

Beauty and the Beast

B&TB doesn’t have a lot of women. The three most prominent ladies in Belle’s village are a set of blonde triplets who aren’t displayed in the best light. They fawn over Gaston and basically exist to be his fangirls.

beauty anf the beast fangirling  copy

In the castle, we have Belle’s wardrobe, who is nice, and we have Mrs. Potts, who is awesome, but she doesn’t interact with either of them a lot. So no.

Aladdin

Jasmine is our only prominent female character, which is really sad, because I would’ve loved if Jasmine had a friend. Poor girl is lonely in that castle with only her tiger to keep her company. Nope.

aladdin done w your shit

Pocahontas

YES. Pocahontas is one of our few Disney princesses with a female best friend, who happens to be awesome. Nakoma and Pocahontas’ friendship is fantastic. They squabble like sisters, gossip about everything (including cute boys), and just hang out like most girls do.

pocahontas nakoma cheeringpocahontas and nakoma assessing men

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Out of the two, Nakoma is the more level-headed and reasonable one, who tries to keep Pocahontas from doing anything too insane. But she’s also loyal, and tries to trust her friend’s judgment, even when she’s a bit unsure of Pocahontas sneaking around with John Smith.

pocahontas and nakoma 2pocahontas and nakoma 1

And while Pocahontas’ mother isn’t around, she does have a grandmother figure around in Grandmother Willow. She’s the one that Pocahontas goes to when she’s in need of guidance, a good listening ear, or just for comfort in times of strife. While Grandmother Willow never tells her what she should doing, she instead teaches Pocahontas to trust her intuition and follow her heart, allowing her to become a stronger leader and have more faith in herself and her decisions.

pocahontas grandmother willow 3pocahontas grandmother willow 2

Mulan

Mulan has won the parental lottery, guys, because she not only has a father and a mother, but she also has a grandmother! Sadly, like a lot of the princesses, Mulan’s bond with her father gets more focus than her bonds with her mother and grandmother. Mulan also doesn’t have any female friends, although in her case, it’s slightly more forgivable considering she’s posing as a man in the army and ends up surrounded by dudes. So no, but one that’s slightly more forgivable than other films due to the circumstances involved.

mulan horse

The Princess and the Frog

Heck yes. This movie is the jackpot of female relationships in my opinion. There is this really awesome close-knit relationship between Tiana and her mother. There’s a years-long friendship between Charlotte and Tiana. There’s even a powerful woman named Mama Odie who assists our heroine on her adventure. But since Mama Odie is more supernatural assistance than friend, I’m going to focus on Tiana and her mom, and Charlotte and Tiana.

Tiana and her mom are awesome and close. We don’t get to see a lot of their interactions, but we get a nice glimpse of them when we see little Tiana, and we get a great scene where Tiana shows her mom the restaurant she wants to lease, which leads into “Almost There.” Unfortunately, after that, we don’t get much interaction from them, since Tiana is a frog for a majority of the movie.

Tiana/Charlotte we do get a lot of. We get a glimpse of little Tiana and little Lottie at the beginning of the movie, showing how long they’ve been friends, and they’re still close when we see them again.

princess and the frog ickle besties

princess and frog lottie and tiana

Despite differing social class and race, Tiana and Lottie have a really strong friendship. Lottie knows Tiana well enough to know she can’t give her bestie any handouts, so she does things like hiring Tiana’s catering services so she can pay her and give her the remaining funds she needs to achieve her dream. She also lends Tiana a new outfit when hers gets ruined at the party, which is total best friend behavior.

princess and the frog

Lottie also cares a lot about Tiana and her happiness. Like Tiana has her restaurant dream, Lottie’s dream is to be a princess. (Which I’m pretty sure a lot of us dreamed of, once upon a time.) When Naveen and Tiana fall in love while they’re stuck as frogs, Lottie offers to kiss him and forgo her dream of marrying into royalty, because she can see how much the two of them care for each other and there’s no way she’s getting in the way of that.

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These two are fantastic. The whole movie could’ve just been about them being awesome and I would’ve been content.

princess and frog lottie catches the bouquet

Tangled

Tangled has Rapunzel, Mother Gothel, and Rapunzel’s mother. Rapunzel doesn’t get a ton of time with her mother, but we see her with baby Rapunzel at the start, we see her and her husband’s grief after losing their daughter, and we see her at the end when she reunites with Rapunzel. It’s sad we don’t get a ton to go on, but the end of the movie establishes what should be the start of a prosperous mother-daughter relationship, so at least that’s something.

tangled hug

Mother Gothel and Rapunzel have a painfully abusive relationship. Mother Gothel berates and terrifies Rapunzel into submission to break her spirit and keep her in the tower. She wants Rapunzel to be dependent on her, so that she can harass the power of her hair and stay alive. Not exactly a healthy relationship.

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She may have a budding relationship forming with her mother, but sadly, Rapunzel doesn’t really have any female friends. Boo.

tangled maximus horse

Brave

I haven’t seen all of Brave, but I do know one thing: Merida, like Tiana, has a close relationship with her mother, and their bond is a big part of the movie’s plot.

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Merida’s mother and Merida don’t always see eye to eye: they have different goals and outlooks, and Merida doesn’t always live up to her mother’s expectations, thus, they butt heads a lot. But Merida cares deeply for her mother, and vice versa. Merida’s accidental wish – and her attempt to undo it – bring mother and daughter closer together as the movie goes on.

brave bear mombrave that's my mother

I think this is probably the biggest mother-daughter focus we get out of any of the Disney Princess movies, which is pretty awesome because the bulk of Disney Princess relationships tend to be between fathers/daughters, or a princess and their significant other.

brave merida and mom

While we do get a mother-daughter relationship, Merida doesn’t have any female friends though, which is sad. Maybe we can get one in a sequel? 😉

Frozen

And finally, we have Frozen. Frozen is kind of a weird one, because the only two prominent women in the movie are the leads, Anna and Elsa. Anna and Elsa sisters, who used to share a close bond that Anna is hoping to rekindle, despite Elsa’s avoidance of her. However, Frozen doesn’t do a great job of displaying their relationship.

frozen strugglebus reaction

Elsa and Anna are separated for a majority of the movie, and while they connect a little at the palace after Elsa’s coronation, they’re quickly separated afterwards, and only interact for a short time before Elsa’s powers freeze Anna’s heart and Anna and Kristoff are forced to flee. Next interaction: Anna steps in just in time to stop Hans from cutting down Elsa. Her act of true love both saves Elsa and defrosts her own heart, which is a nice twist.

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I think Frozen is a draw for me. Elsa and Anna are close, and I enjoy the bond between them. It would’ve been nice though to see their bond better fleshed out, and see more women in the movie in general.

 

Conclusion (Aka, Why Is This So Important, Mel?)

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Much like the Bechdel test, checklisting whether a movie contain female friendships or not doesn’t mean that it is a failure. However, it’s telling that there are only two prominent female friendships, and three strong mother-daughter bonds, within 12 Disney princess movies. Why are father-daughter bonds and romantic bonds prioritized over female friendships and mother/daughter bonds? Why are so many of the female interactions in Disney films negative and antagonistic in nature? In a society where women are torn down, pitted against each other, and strive to be “one of the boys”, positive female interactions in Disney movies, especially Disney princess movies, might promote stronger female relationships in everyday life for young girls and women. (It would also be good for boys as well, and it’d be nice to see more parents take an initiative to be more gender-neutral, but that’s another post in itself.)

Do you think Disney movies need more positive female interactions? What are your favorite Disney bonds? Let us know in the comments!

Follow Animated Meta on Tumblr and Twitter. Have a happy Saturday!

Cheers,

M&M

10 Animated Women That Inspire Us to Epicness: Mel Edition

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Since this month is Women’s History Month, I decided to take a trip through animated history and talk about some of the animated women who have inspired me over the years, and what it is that makes them truly amazing.

1. Kim Possible

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A cheerleader who saves the world? Whoever thought of Kim deserves all of the awards, because she is awesome and super fleshed out. We don’t often get heroines with realistic life skills, but Kim’s cheerleading and gymnastics background is part of why she’s so adept at the world-saving business.

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Selfless, bold and determined, Kim inspires us to take a stand and embrace what makes us unique. She also has an amazing sense of fashion, especially when it comes to saving the world, and having a heroine who doesn’t have to sacrifice her femininity to be perceived as tough is amazing.

2. Ginger Foutley

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I think Ginger Foutley is one of the most underrated ladies in animation. Ginger isn’t the typical protagonist: she’s an introvert and writer, which we don’t see too often, and uses her writing to both express herself and be creative. Two of the show’s best episodes (Hello Stranger, And She was Gone) hone in on Ginger’s writing, and how it ties into her personal life in a fantastic way.

Other reasons Ginger is awesome: she’s stubborn, endearing in how she handles the chaos life throws at her, and she cares deeply for her friends and family, even if they drive her crazy at times. Her growth throughout the series is fantastic, and she’s definitely a character I can go back to even now and still relate to, because she reminds me of a younger time in my life when I went through similar struggles. Basically, Ginger’s just awesome, and the grass really is greener for her, even if it takes her a while to realize that.

3. Katara

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Katara is a force to be reckoned with. You can’t knock her down, no matter how hard you try. She’s so many things rolled into one awesome person. She’s a healer, a motherly figure, a fighter, a teacher, a friend, a sister… She’s not only physically strong, she’s also emotionally strong; she’s the rock of the Aang Gaang, who holds everyone together when the going gets tough. She’s the one who keeps hope, no matter how grim and dark the circumstances. She sees the best in others, even when they can’t see it in themselves, and she won’t give up on the people who need her most, even if it puts herself at risk. Her compassion, empathy and fighter’s spirit make her an inspiration, and someone many people could learn from.

4. Princess Jasmine

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Like I’ve said before, Jasmine is one of the most underrated Disney princesses ever. She’s politically savvy, has a strong sense of self, is snarky and refuses to settle for jerks who only want her for her money. She has a great sense of adventure, isn’t afraid to rebel in order to find the freedom and agency she desires.

She’s someone who will only accept someone who respects her and treats her as an equal for a future husband. Anyone who would dare treat her like a prize to be won is not worth her time. She shows us that agency and equality are two important things for women to strive for, and that settling for someone who doesn’t appreciate your worth is ridiculous. Her relationship with Aladdin shows us that honesty and respect are the two foremost foundations of what a relationship should be, and her determination to decide her own future despite the rules that oppress her is super admirable. Remind me again why she’s so underrated? Because she really shouldn’t be.

5. Belle

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A princess who reads, dreams big and refuses to conform to society’s standards for her because she knows that she is worth so much more and deserves so much more = one amazing Disney princess.

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Belle is intelligent, kind-hearted, and doesn’t care what people think of her. No matter how many people in her small town scoff at her oddities, she really doesn’t care. She also refuses to let anyone harass her or push her around, as evidenced by her smoothness in evading Gaston’s advances, and her yelling at the Beast and calling him out on his jerky behavior. She’s just awesome, and I think if we were all a little more like Belle and followed our dreams, we’d certainly be happier. (Also a good thing to emulate from Belle: her book-buying habits. Or better yet, marry a prince and get your own personal library.)

6. Asami Sato

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Asami is a girly heiress who also happens to be a savvy businesswoman, a smart girl who loves flashy cars, and a fighter who’s handy with an electric glove against enemies. She is someone with integrity and lots of inner strength, who was strong enough to stand up against her father when his own integrity was lost, and who built up his company from the ground up after his imprisonment.

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She is also a rare representation of bisexuality in animation, which is really important. People of all orientations, races, genders, exc deserve to be shown, and Asami’s relationships with Mako and Korra are exactly that.

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Kudos to the creators for letting someone as amazing as Asami get some spotlight, and giving us a character who doesn’t have to sacrifice her femininity to be strong, who can  take the world by storm, and is just generally an awesome influence.

7. Ariel

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I know, this is like my third Disney princess on the list, but hey, I was a Disney kid. I grew up on Disney movies, and the Disney Renaissance was in its prime when I was little, so I had some amazing influences because of that. One of these is Ariel, who is one of the most proactive Disney princesses ever.

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She needs cool knickknacks for the grotto? Easy: she’ll go explore that sunken ship and take down any sharks that get in the way. She wants to explore the shores up above, so she goes up there herself and later makes a deal with a sea witch to find a more permanent place on land. The prince she likes is in danger? Ariel dives down without any hesitation and saves him from drowning, and then later saves him (again) from being forced into a marriage with an evil sea witch. This girl is a total determinator: nothing gets in her way, not even losing her voice. She never gives up, never lets anyone break her spirit, and fights for what she wants, no matter how hard it is to achieve. If you want something, make like Ariel and be proactive. Fight to achieve your dreams.

8. Cinderella

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Cinderella was my favorite princess when I was little, and inspired me a lot growing up. Her perseverance, strength, and strong sense of self-worth make her an amazing role model for young girls. She’s always putting other people before herself, so when she finally puts herself first, it’s such a wonderful thing to watch. She teaches us that while it’s good to be kind to others, we need to be kind and value ourselves as well. She also teaches us to never give up on our dreams, because if you believe and work hard, whatever you wish for will be.

9. The Totally Spies

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I can’t just pick one of them, so I’m doing all of them: the Totally Spies! I used to love this show so much, especially because it was nice to get three completely different girls who all kicked butt and saved the world on a daily basis. Plus, they used amazing girly gadgets, like laser lipsticks and weaponized hairdryers. A few examples:

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totally spies sam

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The best thing about the Totally Spies for me was that they all brought something different to the team, and always managed to save each other from trouble. Sam, Alex and Clover are all awesome in their own way, and each has their own strengths that make them an integral part of the team. Take one girl away, and something was lost from the team. How can you compete with that brand of awesome?

10. Jazz and Maddie Fenton

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Brilliant women are really underrated in fiction, and Jazz and Maddie Fenton are two super savvy, super smart ladies. Maddie is an inventor, whipping up amazing ghost-fighting tools every week, and Jazz is both book smart and a sneaky plotter, as evidenced by how she repeatedly tricks Vlad in Secret Weapons, and how long she manages to keep her knowledge of Danny’s secret a secret, even from him. Their brilliance results in lots of awesome moments in-series, and both inspire us to seek knowledge and put it to an epic use, such as ghost-hunting or plotting to take down evil antagonists.

Which animated girl inspires you the most and why? Let us know in the comments!

Follow Animated Meta on Twitter and Tumblr. Have an epic Tuesday! (And happy St. Patrick’s Day as well!)

Cheers,

M&M

Cinderella: Class vs Classy

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Disney’s Cinderella is coming out in theatres March 13th, so I thought it would be nice to take a look at its animated counterpart, and see what we love so much about that. So here are all of the reasons why I think Disney’s Cinderella is awesome, from the utterly shallow to the deep and feelsy.

 

Cinderella’s two best qualities are her optimistic attitude, and the way that she never lets anyone tear her down or squash her dreams.

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Okay, so all of the Disney princesses have qualities that make them amazing. For Cinderella, that’s her kind heart and her optimism.

cinderella and the mice

Cinderella is just a sweetheart, okay? She makes clothes for the mice and feeds them. She puts basically everyone else in the world before herself, and when she finally does put herself first and goes to the ball, it’s such a great moment, because we get to see her being happy.

She’s also incredibly determined. No matter how awful her stepsisters and stepmother are to her, and no matter how bleak life seems, Cinderella tries her best to persevere. She breaks down sometimes, and that’s okay, because she always picks herself back up, stronger than ever. She won’t let other people stop her from following her dreams, and that determination is what leads to her ending up with the prince at the end.

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We talk a lot about strong women in the media, and while physically strong women tend to get the most focus, Cinderella is emotionally strong, which is incredibly important. Her strength lies in her compassion and empathy, in her optimism and ability to hold herself together. And I think that’s really important and often underrated. 🙂

 

The mice are adorable and awesome.

cinderella mouse

I love the mice. They have this awesome symbiotic relationship with Cinderella, where she helps them out and takes care of them, and in return, they are the most adorable, loyal friends a girl could ask for. When Cinderella doesn’t have time to step in and finish her dress, guess who does it for her? The mice. When Cinderella gets locked away by her wicked stepmother when the prince arrives, guess who steals back the key for her? If you said “the mice” you’re right!

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I find the way that they look out for Cinderella endearing, and it’s great seeing how much they care about her and all that she does for them. Unlike her stepfamily, who doesn’t appreciate her at all, the mice definitely do, and her respect and kindness toward them is part of why they’re so eager to help her whenever she needs them. It’s fabulous.

 

It tackles class and status in an interesting way.

I’ve talked about this before, but just like the Brothers Grimm version of the fairytale, Disney’s version of Cinderella tackles both class and status in a really cool way. Lady Tremaine is so consumed with status. She’s so determined for her daughters to marry up and rise above, and she’s equally determined to make sure Cinderella doesn’t do the same. But like Mic and I mentioned in our last meta, the villains that fight so hard for power and status always end up failing, and that’s exactly what happens to Lady Tremaine and her stepdaughters. Even though they’ve tried so hard to put Cinderella down, she still rises above them and elevates in status not through any trickery, but because she wins over the prince by being her wonderful flawless self. They can tear up her gown and lock her away, but she’ll just gain another one and break free, because Cinderella’s perseverance allows her to get what she desires: freedom from her situation.

We’re told that Lady Tremaine envies Cinderella’s appearance, but in a way I think she also envies her inner beauty: her grace and her determination and poise, how she doesn’t sink to anyone’s level but instead rises above it all. Cinderella teaches us that class isn’t always about social class: sometimes, it’s about being classy. It’s about treating people the way you would want to be treated, and not letting others tear you down. It’s about letting go of hatred and moving on from the toxic people in your life. The Grimm Brothers’ Cinderella lets birds peck out her stepsisters’ eyes. Disney’s Cinderella simply gets off into her carriage and rides away to her happily-ever-after.

There’s this great quote: “How beautiful it is to stay silent when someone expects you to be enraged.” And that sums up Cinderella so wonderfully, I think. She would rather stay silent and move on with her life, which is a much better diss than any reaction ever could be.

 

The fashion in this movie is so on point.

This is a shallow reason, but I love the clothes in this movie. Cinderella’s dresses, the cute little clothes the mice wear…even some of the things Lady Tremaine and her stepdaughters wear are pretty eye-catching. I mean, look at this stuff. Isn’t it neat?

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So is the animation! That scenery is just…wow.

I have a lot of beef with the older Disney princess movies. But the animation in them is flawless, especially in Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella. The detailing that goes into the backgrounds and scenery is phenomenal. Just…there aren’t even words.

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Cinderella and the Prince have a surprising amount of chemistry, despite how little their relationship is developed.

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In the older Disney Princess films, we don’t get as much focus on the relationships at hand. However, even with the lack of scenes Cinderella and Prince Charming share, they ooze with chemistry and almost make up for it in a way. One of my favorite scenes is that scene when they meet at the ball, and the steward narrates the two of them meeting, and says: “He looks up, for lo, there she stands, the girl of his dreams.”

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And when we see that scene of them meeting, there’s a definite chemistry between them. “So This Is Love” oozes with it, as we watch Cinderella and Prince Charming waltz on the dance floor, both utterly blown away by one another. It may not be love right off the bat, but there’s definitely something between them that just meshes well together.

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There’s a sense that they spend a portion of the night together, chatting and getting to know one another (considering the montage) which is a start, and then at the end we get the pretty wedding scene in the carriage.

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Granted, we don’t see what really happens between those two scenes, but one can assume that the prince and Cinderella spend time getting to know one another, since there’s a definite feeling of a time lapse when it goes from the slipper fitting to the wedding. Either way, even though it would’ve been nice to see more development, nothing takes away from that sizzling chemistry and those gorgeous scenes that tug at your heartstrings.

 

The music is amazing.

The music in this movie is awesome and underrated. There’s Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo, which contains that gorgeous transformation scene we all adore.

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There’s So This Is Love, where the wonderful chemistry takes place between Cinderella and her Prince Charming, and we get to see happy Cinderella, which is always a nice thing.

And then there’s my favorite song in the entire move: A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes. It’s a song all about hope and dreams, and how if you want to accomplish your dreams, you can’t lose hope.

Have faith in your dreams and someday,

Your rainbow will come shining through

Cinderella’s strong faith in her dreams, and her determination to always look on the bright side, are exactly why her dreams end up coming true. And then there’s this beautiful part:

No matter how your heart is grieving,

If you keep on believing,

That dream that you wish will come true

In life, we undergo setbacks and hardships. Things don’t always go our way. But if we keep believing and fight for our dreams, our dreams will surely come true. That’s the most important thing Cinderella teaches us: never give up, never stop dreaming, and look on the bright side.

cinderella no matter how your heart is grieving

 

While Cinderella came out in the 50s and thus feels dated in some aspects, others are incredibly universal and easy to appreciate. With beautiful animation, an emotionally strong and endearing main character, and messages that remain universal even today, Cinderella was truly a Disney masterpiece. I eagerly await to see how it’s readapted over the years, and if anything can capture that same heart and warmth again.

What do you love most about Cinderella? Are you planning on seeing the live action adaptation? Let us know in the comments!

You can follow Animated Meta on Twitter and Tumblr. Have a beautiful Tuesday!

Cheers,

M&M

What’s in a Name? The Problematic Aspects of Disney’s Early Female Antagonists

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There are some elements of the early Disney Princess films that don’t quite sit right with me. One of those things is how Disney characterizes their early female antagonists. Their motivations (when they have them) are shallow, their characters are lacking in depth, and the naming for the first two is incredibly troubling. Why is that? Well, we’re going to delve into labels, motivations, and the other messy aspects of Disney’s earliest villains and find out.

Evil Queen, Cinderella’s Stepmother, and the Problematic Aspects

Snow White and Cinderella existed in the early days of Disney, when the writers were still finding their footing with developing characters. This is especially evident in their antagonists, who are given titles rather than names, and motivations that feel very flat. They’re also very much a product of their times, where much of a women’s worth in story revolves around her beauty and her status.

Snow White’s stepmother is named the Evil Queen, a simplistic title that paints her as an antagonist. Meanwhile, Cinderella’s stepmother is often referred to as, well, Cinderella’s stepmother. Cinderella even calls her “Stepmother” in the movie. Interestingly, her stepmother does have an actual name – it’s Lady Tremaine, which is really badass and sounds awesome – but it’s never used. Instead, the movie focuses on her title: Stepmother.

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Both movies share similar plots at the start: farther loses his wife and wants to provide his daughter with a motherly figure, so he marries a wealthy woman. But the father inevitably dies (because Disney has this weird stigma against families being happy, I guess) and the daughter is treated cruelly because the stepmother is envious of her beauty.

I’ve never liked the terrible reputation stepmothers get in older fairytales. They’re painted with this very weird canvas, where they’re evil and dislike children and end up being antagonists. Which, first of all, it’s very awkward that stepmothers were evil, since this was a time when a lot of children had stepparents due to losing family to disease. Second of all, the fact that these are older women who are villainized for their envy of their younger, more beautiful children points to a deeper societal issue.

We live in a society where a woman’s worth lies in her beauty, rather than her intellect, or her talent, or her compassion. Think about Hollywood: how many older actresses get fulfilling roles in movies, verses male actors, who have a longer shelf life? For men, appearance isn’t as big of a factor, but for women, it’s a huge aspect, and it’s very biased. For example, think about the Oscars: how many women were asked about their appearance on the Red Carpet, while men were asked about their roles or their career? There’s a huge messy double standard here, and Snow White and Cinderella both have it.

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In Snow White, we have the Evil Queen, who is so envious of Snow White’s beauty that she wants to eliminate her from the picture. A mirror tells her she’s not the fairest woman in the land anymore, and she decides that the logical solution would be to send her Huntsman to kill Snow White. There is so much wrong with this that I don’t even know where to start.

One thing that really bothers me about this movie is that the mirror is a man, so we have a man judging a woman’s self-worth and beauty, and deeming another woman as better than her.

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We also have this weird, uncomfortable message about how it’s okay if you’re young and beautiful, and that makes you a good person, but if you’re an older woman, and you strive for beauty, well, that makes you horrible and evil and cruel. (And in the Evil Queen’s case, you lose your beauty and die as a punishment.) It villainizes the older woman, and puts the younger woman on a pedestal. It gives us an uncomfortable message that says: “you should be beautiful, but you shouldn’t focus on your beauty, because that makes you evil.” It’s not right, and it’s jarring that Snow White came out almost 60 years ago, yet this is still an issue in our society today.

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Cinderella focuses a bit more on status, but beauty still factors in. While Lady Tremaine doesn’t straight up tell us that she’s jealous of Cinderella, she doesn’t have to! Because the narration flat out tells us that Lady Tremaine is “bitterly jealous of Cinderella’s charm and beauty” as she lurks in the shadows and glowers at her.

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So Cinderella becomes her stepmother and stepsisters’ servant and has her status revoked just because Lady Tremaine is jealous of her beauty and charm. It’s just as messy as the Snow White/Evil Queen situation.

Lady Tremaine isn’t trying to murder Cinderella, which is progress I guess, but she’s treating her stepdaughter like dirt just so that she can feel above her and feel more beautiful than her. It’s about status and beauty, and competition between women, and it’s sickening. Of course, it doesn’t even work out in Lady Tremaine’s favor, because no matter how hard she pushes to keep Cinderella beneath her and her children, Cinderella rises above and even elevates past her status by marrying a prince.

While I do think Cinderella sends some great messages, like never giving up on your dreams, it also has that same ugly undercurrent of competition that Snow White had, and a more uncomfortable message that beauty = good, but wanting beauty/status is unacceptable.

Cinderella gets a higher status, yes, but she doesn’t strive for it in any way, she kind of walks into it once she meets the prince. And Snow White’s prince just pops up out of nowhere to rescue her and elevate her to a higher status as well. Both movies suggest that beauty is something you should be born with and if you’re not that’s too bad, that status is something that should be gained through a man, and working for either negates you as a cruel person who deserves the worst to happen to you.

That’s not a healthy message to send whatsoever.

We get off the weird status/beauty boat with Maleficent, but unfortunately, we also don’t see a ton of development antagonist-wise either.

Maleficent: Badass and Not Much Else

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Maleficent is a step up from our two previous villains. She has a name that is not a title, and she is addressed by it throughout! She isn’t only her title, the way that the Evil Queen and Cinderella’s stepmother are, so that’s progress already.

There also isn’t the weird envious undercurrent about beauty and competition with Maleficent and Aurora. Maleficent doesn’t really even seem to have anything against Aurora herself; she just curses her to spite her parents, who didn’t invite her to the christening for Aurora. Which kind of leads us to her only motive being…well, that she’s petty. You don’t invite her to your party? She’ll curse your infant! Sucks for you, maybe you should’ve invited her so she didn’t ruin your life.

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While her motives aren’t that fleshed out, it’s a step-up from before, considering the lack of female-on-female hate. Maleficent may be petty, but it’s not solely focused on women. Remember that great speech she gave to Phillip when she took him captive, about how she’d keep him locked up until he was old, then let him go rescue Aurora? Her revenge and malevolence extends to everyone, so at least in that regard she’s pretty equal about it.

Unfortunately, Maleficent just doesn’t have a ton of depth, period. Is she an awesome villain that is a great obstacle for our characters? Yes, definitely; she has a great presence and she’s incredibly chilling in a wonderful way. But beyond her pettiness and her badass nature, she doesn’t really have a reason for why she does what she does. She just seems to be in it to mess with everyone else, which I guess is valid.

I have a lot of mixed feelings about Maleficent’s lack of depth. She is definitely a step up from the Evil Queen and the Stepmother, but it’s clear that at this point, there’s still a lot of room for improvement antagonist-wise in the Disney catalogue. She is a cool stepping stone to observe, though. Sleeping Beauty came out nine years after Cinderella, in 1959, and in between the two, Robin Hood, Peter Pan, and Lady and the Tramp all came out, which is where we started to see a bit of improvement on the antagonist scale.

It’s also interesting to point out that all three female villainesses have the same manipulative undercurrent. They all have this knack for subtlety, and convincing others to do what they want, and a cunning that’s very impressive. That aspect carries onto a lot of later Disney villains, so in that regard, some good things did come out of our early villainesses.

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While no one can deny that all three of the early antagonists in the Disney Princess films have a chilling presence and some impressive skills of manipulation, their lack of depth and the uncomfortable messages sent in their conflicts with the protagonists show where Disney hadn’t quite found their niche.

What do you guys think? Do the portrayals of the Evil Queen, Lady Tremaine and Maleficent have some issues? Which of these three ladies is your favorite villainess?

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

Cheers,

M&M

Animated Love Songs (Part 2)

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Happy Valentine’s Day!! Whether you’re single or in a relationship or unsure where you stand with someone, today is a made up holiday where the greeting card business gets a well needed boost. Or it’s, like, a day to tell everyone you know how much you love them. Okay! Let’s continue with our Animated Love Songs meta.

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Love is an Open Door – Frozen (Mel)

Ooh, I’ve been excited to talk about this one.

I’ll admit it: I have a lot of gripes with Frozen. But I can’t deny that “Love is an Open Door” is handled brilliantly, mainly because it’s a song where you can go back and find subtle foreshadowing. There were a lot of complaints about Hans’ villainy coming out of left field, but if you reexamine, you can see the small seeds planted for his antagonistic role.

“Love is an Open Door” is mainly about Anna and Hans, who have always been shut out and ignored by their siblings, and how their love for one another is an open door that gives them new possibilities. But what they want out of their relationship is completely different.

So let’s take a look at motivations.

Anna: All my life has been a series of doors in my face,

And then suddenly I bump into you

Hans: Yeah! It’s like,

I’ve been searching my whole life to find my own place

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Anna has always felt like she was alone in life. “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?” really cements her loneliness and her desire to have someone to talk to. When Hans waltzes into her life, she’s found someone who she feels confident enough to talk to. Hans doesn’t shut her out the way Elsa does: instead, he listens sympathetically, and understands her struggles perfectly.

frozen find my own place

For a way, it’s similar for Hans, but let’s hone in on his word choice. He specifically mentions that he wants to find his own place – and he glances at Arendelle when he says this. He isn’t referencing Anna – he’s referencing her kingdom. That’s really important, considering that we find out later that he wanted to marry her so he could rule Arendelle. To Anna, he is referencing her, and that’s where the double meaning comes in.

Anna (and the audience, on first viewing) assumes that Hans is on the same page as her. But Hans has a completely different agenda, which makes “Love is an Open Door” a very unique love song. Does it follow the love song formula? Yes. But this is the first love song where one half of the party is being duplicitous and outright manipulating the other party.

Anna: But with you

Hans: But with you, I’ve found my place

Anna: I see your face

Both: And it’s nothing like I’ve ever known before

Love is an open door

Notice the way that Hans’ lyrics are focused on Arendelle, while Anna’s lyrics are focused on Hans? I bet you didn’t pick up on that on your first watch. Neither did I, until I watched Frozen again and little alarm bells went off in my head.

Our mental synchronization can have but one explanation:

You – and I –were just meant to be

frozen mental synch

Here’s where some irony slips in, because they’re not really as synchronized as they think. Or rather, Anna thinks they’re on the same page, but Hans knows they’re not.

Say goodbye (say goodbye)

To the pain of the past

We don’t have to feel it anymore

frozen love is an open door

Anna and Hans have obviously both had some turbulent/lonely childhoods. I mean, your brothers pretending you don’t exist? It could be a lie, considering Hans has lied about a lot, but if it’s the truth, it explains a lot about Hans’ motivations. Hans has never had a place to call his own. With twelve older brothers, being brother thirteen means you’re virtually destined for nothingness, and the second that he met Anna, he saw an opportunity to marry into something that could be his. Why didn’t he hone in on Elsa, the future queen? Well, he might’ve thought she was more unapproachable, and there was the fact that he met Anna first, and more importantly, genuinely seemed to like her.

Frozen is oddly conflicting about Hans and Anna’s relationship. They show us instances that indicate that Hans really does have feelings for Anna (like the scene when she runs off and he’s staring after her with that silly smile on his face), but then they refute it at the end. The creators didn’t really make up their minds on whether Hans actually had some shred of feelings for Anna, or whether she was just an easy target. I like to think it was a mix of both. Therefore, I think there is a bit of truth in Hans’ song: he does like Anna, but the chilling part of Hans is that he likes power more. And when he’s given the opportunity to take Arendelle for himself, he’s willing to let Anna die to make it happen.

frozen punch hans

One last thing I want to talk about before we move on is the end of the song, and the repetition of a certain lyric:

Love is an open door, love is an open door

Life can be so much more

With you (with you) with you

Love is an open door

The title of the song is dropped a lot during the song. So what does “love is an open door” really mean? Well, it was multiple meanings. For Anna, her love for Hans is an open door in opposition to all of the doors that have been shut on her in the past. It’s a chance to be with someone and have someone who trusts her and will stick by her no matter what.

For Hans, he sees Anna’s love for him as an open door to find his own place on the throne of Arendelle. Whether he has genuine feelings for her or not, being with her gives him a shot at being king, and finally having something that is solely his.

So is this a love song?

frozen IT'S TRUE LOVE

In a way, yes. But it’s so much more than that. And that’s why it remains my favorite song from Frozen.

 

Looking Through Your Eyes (Quest for Camelot)—Mic

Ugh, this song is so sweet. It’s basically all about how beautiful and perfect the world is when you’re in love.

Look at the sky tell me what do you see

Just close your eyes and describe it to me

The heavens are sparkling with starlight tonight

That’s what I see through your eyes

Firstly, Garrett is blind. So part of him is actually asking Kayley to describe it to him. But, Garrett is also a cynic and a loner, so he would never say the ‘heavens are sparkling with starlight.’

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Love has changed him, opened him up and it wasn’t something he was looking for. Kayley wasn’t looking for love either, since she was on a hero’s quest to save Camelot (and hopefully become a knight).

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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To continue the same thread:

I see a world we’re meant to see together

And it is so much more than I remember

More than I remember

More than I have known 

Love has changed the way they see their surroundings and even what they want out of life. Nothing matters unless they’re together (And suddenly I know why life is worthwhile).

Visually, the sequence is also important. Garrett is trusting Kayley to be his eyes, but it’s not all on his side. He also brings her into his world and shows her how he uses his walking stick as a weapon.There’s newfound trust between them.

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Here in the night, I see the sun

Here in the dark, our two hearts are one 

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I’m reading Wuthering Heights right now (if you read my Oliver Twist & Company meta, you know I’m taking an Early Victorian Novels class) and Cathy and Heathcliff share a similar sentiment. They consider themselves one being and when Cathy dies, Heathcliff says something to the effect of, how can I live without my soul? That’s kind of the same sentiment here, though Kayley and Garrett are way healthier than Cathy and Heathcliff.

 

Bella Notte (Lady and the Tramp)—Mic

Bella Notte is Italian for “beautiful night.” This song basically backdrops the perfect first date and one of Disney’s most iconic scenes: the spaghetti kiss. It’s sung with a heavy Italian accent, at first, and plays up this very romantic vibe.

lady and the tramp kiss

Visually, the sequence is very simple. They have dinner together in an alley and don’t eat anything special: tomato sauce and meatballs is a straightforward dish. Anyone can make it. They don’t do anything particularly special. They walk around town, they go to the park, they’re just together. And it’s a beautiful night because they are together and they are in love.

lady and the tramp eye sex hehe

Side by side with your loved one,

You’ll find enchantment here.

The night will weave its magic spell,

When the one you love is near

lady and tramp pawprints

It’s not a beautiful night because it’s not raining or because it’s not too cold. It’s a beautiful night because Lady and Tramp are together.

Look at the skies, they have stars in their eyes

Skies don’t have eyes. It’s not about the sky.

lady and tramp stars in their eyes

It’s about Lady and Tramp and how totally mystified they are by other person (dog). It’s about how they feel about each other. It’s an allegory or something like that.

It’s not about the material things like a big fancy or dinner or a shiny car (doghouse). It’s about being with that other person (dog). That is what makes una bella notte.

Buongiorno! (Doggies did the deed.)

lady and the tramp day after

 

Kiss the Girl – The Little Mermaid (Mel)

“Kiss the Girl” is probably one of the most straightforward love songs Disney has: Sebastian wants Eric to go on and kiss the girl already.

little mermaid sebastian ear

“Kiss the Girl” is sung by Sebastian, and the first verse is basically Sebastian summing up Eric’s thoughts on Ariel:

There, you see her, sitting there across the way

She don’t got a lot to say, but there’s something about her

And you don’t know why, but you’re dying to try

You wanna kiss the girl

It’s pretty obvious at this point in the movie that Eric is interested in Ariel. Her fascination with the world around her and her lively nature draws him in. Even without her voice, Ariel’s body language and expressions convey her feelings and thoughts quite well. And while it’s clear Eric doesn’t know everything about her, he knows enough to like her – and possibly want to kiss her.

Yes, you want her;

Look at her, you know you do

Possible she wants you too;

There is one way to ask her

Here’s where Sebastian nudges Eric, trying to get him to notice Ariel’s obvious interest in him – or rather, the way she plays with her hair and tries to avoid his gaze until she realizes he’s looking at her the way she’s been looking at him.

little mermaid kiss the girl

Eric, of course, drives us crazy by being uncertain and not ready to kiss Ariel, because he’s still hung up on the chick that saved him. Of course, if he knew that was Ariel, this would make things smoother, but then we wouldn’t have much of a plot, would we? So we have Sebastian to goad him into kissing Ariel, because of what he might lose out on if he doesn’t.

Ain’t it sad, ain’t it a shame?

Too bad; he gonna miss the girl

Boy you better do it soon; no time will be better

She don’t say a word, and she won’t say a word

Until you kiss the girl

Eric doesn’t realize it, but the nag for Ariel to get her kiss is so that she can stay on land permanently, thus why there’s such a rush for Eric to kiss her in the lyrics. Of course, Eric doesn’t pick up on this.

little mermaid kiss the girl paddling

The nagging aspect of the song actually kind of bothered me, because while I understood the purpose of the time limit in story, the pressure put on Eric to “kiss the girl” was a bit annoying.

While Eric and Ariel don’t get that kiss by the end of the song, thanks to Ursula’s interference, they do at the end of the movie. Sometimes it takes a bit of time for someone to get up the nerve to kiss the girl, as evidenced by Eric’s long wait, and that’s perfectly alright. It’s also okay for a woman to take the lead, but I digress. Eventually, he got to kiss the girl, and it was worth the wait that both of them endured.

 

Something There (Beauty and the Beast)—Mic

Something There is a really sweet song about discovering those first inklings of a crush. It’s the first time Belle and Beast really start to see each other for who they are and begin to like that person.

The music actually begins sometime before the first lyric is sung and it’s when Belle and Beast are finally eating together. They both make concessions and compromise. Beast eats with his mouth, but attempts to use a spoon. He’s really bad at it after so many years, but Belle sees his effort and proposes a new way.

beauty something there dishes

When they go outside to feed the birds and she sings:

There’s something sweet and almost kind

But he was mean and he was coarse and unrefined

And now he’s dear and so unsure

beauty something there birds

She’s not just referring to him trying to feed the birds. She’s talking about what happened at dinner and what happened when he risked his life to save hers. It’s a combination of everything that has happened between them, building up to this awakening.

I wonder why I didn’t see it there before

Belle, dude, that’s because it was NOT there before. The beast had to learn. He was cursed because he was a vain brat. It’s not like he was kind before he was punished. So Beast has never actually known how to be “sweet” and “kind” or “dear.” His schemas are totally being rewritten by Belle.

And when we touched she didn’t shudder at my paw

No it can’t be, I’ll just ignore

But then she’s never looked at me that way before 

The beast was a jerk as a kid, but he also had it rough as a beast. He was feared, loathed. He also may not have been very friendly—we saw how he treated Maurice. We don’t how much was the beast assuming or how much was what he had learned. It certainly seems like he had negative experiences with people since he says to Belle’s father, “You’ve come to stare at the beast!” So when Belle comes, he’s not open to considering she may be different. He also doesn’t know how to break the curse. He has no real concept of love.

Belle touching his paw is important to him. It represents her not fearing his exterior, but let’s be real. She never did. Besides their first meeting, which, can you blame her? No one expects to see a walking, talking (yelling), horned animal thing. He had locked her father in a cell. He didn’t make a good first impression. The only time Belle feared him was when he yelled at her in the west wing. And he didn’t just yell. He popped out of the darkness and prowled around and then started breaking and throwing stuff.

Whatever the beast’s path is, it all plays into this now. He can’t even think that she may like him or feel the same way he does. Love is conditional for him. Love has to be beautiful. And he is not.

New and a bit alarming

Who’d have ever thought that this could be?

True that he’s no Prince Charming

But there’s something in him that I simply didn’t see

beauty something there reading

Belle kinda feels the same way he does. Well, they both feel exactly the same. They’re crushing and terrified. While Belle admits he’s not the typical romantic hero, Beast has no mention of Belle being the opposite of a princess. It contrasts with the way the town sees her as this outsider. She’s “peculiar” to them, but not to the Beast. Finally someone sees Belle the way she’s meant to be seen and he’s totally smitten by her.

The song then cuts to the observers:

And who’d have guessed they’d come together on their own?

It’s so peculiar.

Ah, there is that word again. Peculiar. Everything is peculiar if you don’t understand it.

Belle is peculiar because she does not fit into her society and the town shuns her for it. But one can never truly know someone, at least not by judging them and making assumptions. The town does that.

And if people are hard to understand, then love is even harder. Mrs. Potts and Lumiere and Cogsworth certainly can’t understand it. But they don’t have to. Only Belle and Beast do and it’s not peculiar to them. They never use that word.

 

Beauty and the Beast–Beauty and the Beast (Mel)

“Beauty and the Beast” (the song) touches on one of the oldest fictional clichés ever: the couple that starts out as adversaries, and then becomes something more. Mrs. Potts even spells out the trope for us at the start of the song:

Tale as old as time; true as it can be

Barely even friends, then somebody bends unexpectedly

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It sums up Belle and the Beast pretty well, doesn’t it? They started out as two people who could barely stand one another, and then somebody (in this case, the Beast) bends unexpectedly and surprises Belle.

Just a little change

Small, to say the least

Both a little scared

Neither one prepared

Beauty and the Beast

Beauty and the Beast has gotten flack by critics for the Beast’s attitude, and that Belle ending up with him could be a result of Stockholm Syndrome (since she starts out as his prisoner). But what a lot of its contenders forget is that Belle doesn’t even like the Beast as a person. In fact, she detests him and calls him out on his bad attitude. And when she does that, guess what? He realizes she was right, and then promptly changes his ways and treats her with respect and dignity, something she never got from her last suitor, Gaston.

The change aspect is something that was originally touched on in “Something There” and then reappears again. It’s the Beast’s change in attitude that makes Belle reevaluate him as a person, and later as a romantic prospect. I also like the “both a little scared, neither one prepared” sentiment, because both the Beast and Belle aren’t quite sure of what to make of their feelings for one another, and like most people in love, they’re uncertain of whether they should make the first move, or how to even handle their feelings.

Ever just the same; ever a surprise

Ever as before, and ever just as sure

As the sun will rise

This was a weird verse for me at first until I broke it down and realized that it was Mrs. Potts touching on the cliché again. We’ve seen this story a lot of times (“ever just the same”; “ever as before”) but we’re still surprised that these couples make it at times (“ever a surprise”). Still, it doesn’t come as much of a surprise when we realize that the couple is set up in such a way that it’s so obvious that they should be together.

It also relates to how the characters view the relationship. That last line – “ever just as sure as the sun will rise” – relates to the inevitability of Belle and the Beast’s relationship to the Beast’s staff. However, to Belle and the Beast, it’s a surprise to them, because they never expected to feel this way about one another.

Tale as old as time,

Tune as old as song,

Bittersweet and strange,

Finding you can change,

Learning you were wrong

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Those last three lines right there sum up the relationship flawlessly. “Finding you can change” clearly relates to the Beast, who hadn’t realized his capacity for change until he finally attempted it. “Learning you were wrong” relates to both sides of the couple; they carried a lot of assumptions about one another, and it was only by coming together and learning about each other that they grew past the assumptions and saw the person beneath them. Their relationship at this point has been bittersweet and strange, but now they’re at a point where they finally understand one another. They’re on the same page, and they’re even on the same pace, as evidenced by their flawless dancing.

Last week, I mentioned how important it was that Anya let Dimitri lead during the Waltz Reprise, and how their dancing in sync related to them as a couple. Here, a similar occurrence happens with Belle and the Beast. Dancing takes a lot of trust. Much like how stubborn Anya lets Dimitri take the reins, the stubborn Beast lets Belle take control during their dance.  This represents the way their relationship has balanced out. Both sides trust one another, and both aren’t afraid to let the other take control. How’s that for an epic romance?

 

Can You Feel The Love Tonight (The Lion King)—Mic

Can You Feel The Love Tonight might make history for having the most number of narrators in a single love song: four! We start with Timon, who is so mad Simba and Nala have found each other. To him, this union will destroy his boys club.

But then we switch to Nala and she is happy. She’s probably happy for the first time in a long time considering she’s been under Scar’s dictatorship and thought her best friend died. Her line about the world being in perfect harmony is so great since she is finally at peace after experiencing the instability in the Pride Lands.

Another narrator change occurs and we get Simba’s perspective. He’s happy to see her too, but also scared she won’t understand what happened. He, himself, doesn’t understand what happened, which is why he’s been hiding with Timon and Pumba. Nala knows right away something is up with him—

He’s holding back, he’s hiding

But what, I can’t decide

She doesn’t know exactly, but she knows something is off. “I can’t decide” implies she has some theories since he is her best friend. They really are in perfect harmony.

Once again, we swap narrators and this time it’s this overarching third person POV. Simba and Nala were physically apart during the start of the song, on different sides of the water.

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Then they’re playing together and running around. They are together, falling into their old rhythm.

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This POV is like a narration.

Can you feel the love tonight?

You needn’t look too far

Stealing through the night’s uncertainties

Love is where they are

Timon saw clearly (I can see what’s happening), but Nala and Simba were both kinda stumbling around (and they don’t have a clue), their past stopping them from moving forward. But once they do admit their feelings (Nala licking Simba), the third person narrator lets us know that, yeah, they’re in love, and nothing, not even their pasts or the troubles ahead, can stop them.

lion king nala licks simba

Then we have one last change, back to the beginning, bookending with Timon and Pumba. It’s kind of symbolic, since Simba fled and became complacent with Timon and Pumba and then had to find the courage to leave and go back. They mark the shift in Simba’s story. Timon and Pumba open and close this song and by the end, Timon has convinced his friend that Simba having a lady friend will tear them apart.

And if he falls in love tonight

It can be assumed

His carefree days with us are history

In short, our pal is doomed

lion king our pall is doomed

lion king our pall is doomed

Nala coming back does represent a change for Simba. But it doesn’t really have anything to do with love. Simba chooses to go back because Nala reminded him of who he’d left behind and also told him what had happened in his absence. His carefree days are over because he goes back to be king, not because Nala has come to crash the party. And their pal is not doomed, since Timon and Pumba go with him and end up living in the Pride Lands. Everyone ends up in perfect harmony.

 

Let Me Be Your Wings (Thumbelina)—Mic

Let me tell you how much I loved this song when I was a kid: too much. I think it was because I had a giant crush on Cornelius, but whatever.

Let me be your wings

Let me be your only love

Let me take you far beyond the stars

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Thumbelina is a story about fairies, so of course wings feature very heavily. Thumbelina is the size of a fairy, but she is not one. She has no wings. And she falls in love with the fairy prince.

Everyday I’ll take you higher

and I’ll never let you fall

Wings are safety, security. They are a means of travel and protection and all that stuff. Cornelius, le fairy prince, wants to be that for her. He is also literally talking about being her wings since he carries her everywhere during this sequence, or takes her for a joyride on his bumblebee.

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But his words are deeper than that.

Leave behind the world you know

for another world of wondrous things

We’ll see the universe and dance on Saturns’s rings

Fly with me and I will be your wings

Leave behind being on your own, be with me. Come into the world of love, cheesy as that sounds. But all these love songs are about how love changes you or how love binds two people into one, or love is scary and thrilling. Cornelius is asking Thumbelina and promising to be everything for her. He will protect her and he will build her up and they will go on adventures together.

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Heaven isn’t too far.

Heaven is where you are,

Stay with me and let me be your wings 

Like Through Your Eyes, Bella Notte, Love, Can You Feel The Love Tonight, and many others, happiness and completeness only comes with the other person. Love is overpowering and encompassing and the music of animation takes that all and wraps into pretty music that we know every lyric to.

 

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!

What is your favorite love song? Who is your OTP? What is your favorite romantic moment in Disney/non-Disney movies? SWOON BELOW!

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Cheers,

M&M

Animated Love Songs (Part 1)

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This week is Valentine’s Day, so we wanted to do something fun to change things up. This week is the week of Animated Love Songs, both Disney and non-Disney. Mic and I have decided to co-write, so we’ve marked each song to show who’s waxing poetic about it. I hope you guys enjoy this!

A Whole New World – Aladdin (Mel)

Aladdin is one of my absolute favorite Disney movies ever and I fangirl shamelessly about Aladdin and Jasmine’s relationship. They’re the definition of a badass power couple. Thus, I’m super excited to talk about “A Whole New World” – aka, their epic song.

We start with Aladdin’s awesome promise to show Jasmine the world:

I can show you the world: shining, shimmering, splendid

Tell me, princess, now when did you last let your heart decide?

He’s appealing to Jasmine’s sense of adventure and he brings up a great point. Jasmine’s never really had a chance to follow her heart because of her duties, and now, she’s getting a chance to listen to her heart and go for what she wants with Aladdin.

“A Whole New World” is interesting because Jasmine is in on the secret with the audience now: she knows that Aladdin = Prince Ali, and so there’s also a sense of glee that she’s found this boy she deeply cared for and worried about earlier in the story. Also, she doesn’t really fall for “Ali” until she realizes he’s Aladdin. Aladdin’s attempts to be something he’s not don’t really get him anywhere. It’s this song, where he opens up and shows his true self, where he wins her over. Because who would not want Aladdin?

aladdin flower

A whole new world

A new fantastic point of view

No one to tell us no, or where to go

Or say we’re only dreaming

Both Aladdin and Jasmine are tired of always being told what to do. Aladdin’s been kicked around for being a street rat and no one’s really appreciated who is he. He was born a street rat and he’ll die a street rat, but he’s defying that expectation. Meanwhile, Jasmine’s been harassed about getting married, and having to stay behind the palace walls, but she’s sick of that. This moment is a little taste of rebellion against everyone who’s ever told them they can’t be who they want to be, or go where they want to go.

Unbelievable sights, indescribable feelings

Soaring, tumbling, freewheeling

Through an endless diamond sky

This is probably one of my favorite bits of the song. Jasmine’s delight and awe at getting to see all of Agrabah, finally, is wonderful. All she ever really wanted was to get out of the palace and find someone she loved, and she’s accomplished both in one fell swoop.

I’m like a shooting star, I’ve come so far

I can’t go back to where I used to be

After all that she’s seen, and all she’s experienced with Aladdin, she can’t go back to the sheltered girl she was before. And honestly, she doesn’t want to.

Every turn a surprise,

Every moment red letter;

I’ll chase them anywhere,

There’s time to spare;

Let me share this whole new world with you

(Small note: I actually had a great debate about whether the second line was “red letter”/”gets better” with Mic earlier; it was fun.)

Anyway, basically, these two crazy kids are enjoying their whole new world, filled with adventure and excitement. They want to enjoy the moment (“there’s time to spare”) and share the new world they’ve discovered.

A whole new world (A whole new world)

That’s where we’ll be (that’s where we’ll be)

A thrilling chase, a wondrous place

For you and me

Jasmine’s found the adventure she wants, Aladdin’s found the respect he wants, and they’re both pretty happy with this whole new world they’ve uncovered. We even get some hand-holding and fireworks – that’s basically official couple status right there. 😉

 

Far Longer Than Forever – The Swan Princess (Mic)

The love song in The Swan Princess is interesting since it happens when the lovers are apart. This song is a way to connect them, to bridge the gap.

I close my eyes and I am where you are

And with your love I’ll never be alone

It’s also a very flowery song, comparing their love to the sun and how meant to be they are. Funny, considering they’ve been paired together their whole lives with the expectation they’ll marry, and Odette and Derek have rebelled against that notion their entire lives.

swan princess gross odetteswan princess derek kissing hand

“This is My Idea” is a montage of their adolescence full of scowling and pranking and “ughhh, dad, I don’t want to go see Derekkkk,” and then this is NOT my idea turns into this is my idea.

As sure as the dawn brings the sunrise

We’ve an unshakable bond

Destined to last for a lifetime and beyond

Look, I adore this song. I do, truly. It’s just that Odette rejects Derek when he wants to marry her because of her beauty and that’s not enough for her. Odette knows that’s not what love is. She leaves him, so they haven’t seen each other since, nor did they part on good terms.

swan princess is beauty all that matters to you

The rational part of me could buy a love song a little more understated that did not declare their love “as constant as a star,” since after all this had happened with zero follow up.

However, they have known each other since childhood, which is longer than most animated couples. Maybe a part of Odette knew Derek didn’t just love her pretty face—he was just too dumb to put words together—and she jumped on his idiocy to turn him down because she was afraid. Her change of heart is never addressed once he saves her. And neither is the deepening of Derek’s feelings.

But that’s the rational side of me. The fangirl part that adores this movie and thinks Odette is the prettiest thing and Derek is cute and “You should write a book: How to Offend Women in Five Syllables or Less,” is one of the best lines ever, loves this this song. The flowery language, the longing, the not feeling alone BECAUSE LOVE. I can’t get enough of it.

I also love how Odette wants to save herself.

 If I could break this spell

I’d run to him today

And somehow I know he’s on his way to me

Odette tried to escape. She had a big song about it with her puffin, turtle, and frog friends. It just didn’t work. And later, she is the one that finds Derek and leads him to her (since boy is clueless, okay?), but she can’t break the spell. But she takes solace in knowing her partner is trying to save her. Tis one less thing to worry about.

So, yes, is Far Longer Than Forever a tad over the top? Is it cheesy? Is it everything movies tell us about love? Yes, yes, and yes. Do I care? No, no, no.

 

I See the Light – Tangled (Mel)

tangled the lights

“I See the Light” has a gorgeous montage involving the lights. It’s a great song, because it’s not only a love song, but it’s also about realizing your dreams – and discovering new ones. One of the best parts of Tangled to me is its message  about dreams. When you achieve your dreams, you discover new ones. And sometimes, what you’ve dreamed of isn’t always what you expected it to be. Your dreams change and grow along with you, which we see very clearly in Rapunzel and Eugene’s lyrics. Let’s start with Rapunzel:

All these days, watching from the windows

All these years, outside looking in

All that time, never even knowing

Just how blind I’ve been

Rapunzel’s first verse actually has a dual-sided meaning. The obvious one is that Rapunzel is sheltered and she’s never really known much about the world outside her walls. Much like Quasimodo, Rapunzel’s grown up naïve and scared of venturing outside her comfort zone. But once she does, she realizes how blind she’s been – and how much the world has to offer her. The second, less obvious meaning, relates to her feelings for Eugene. She’s been blind to how she feels about him, until now anyway.

Now I’m here, blinking in the starlight

Now I’m here, suddenly I see

Standing here, it’s oh so clear

I’m where I’m meant to be

Here’s our triumphant “I got what I wanted” moment. Rapunzel wanted to see the lights, and now she understands that this is where she’s meant to be. She was meant to see them, and she feels accomplished. Again, since this is a love song, we can also tie that back to Eugene: she was meant to be here – with him.

tangled rapunzel lights

I’m going to come back to Rapunzel’s want/dream soon, but first I’m going to change stride and focus on Eugene’s verses. We’ll come back to the pretty chorus later.

All those days, chasing down a daydream

All those years, living in a blur

All that time, never truly seeing

Things the way they were

Remember what I said earlier, about how what you dream of isn’t really what you expect it to be? That applies perfectly to Eugene. He’s realizing now that his dream isn’t really all that it was cracked up to be. Just like he’s opened up Rapunzel’s perspective and shown her the truth about the world outside the walls of her tower, she’s opened him up to a world he never really imagined – and the love he never thought he wanted. In the interlude before his verse begins, Rapunzel offers him the bag with the crown in it, and while the Eugene at the start of the story would’ve snatched that right up, he doesn’t even bother looking inside. He doesn’t care about that anymore, because he’s realized there’s more to life than the life he had before, all thanks to Rapunzel.

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tangled light 2

Now she’s here, shining in the starlight

Now she’s here, and suddenly I know

If she’s here, it’s crystal clear

I’m where I’m meant to go

While his old dream isn’t really working out for him, he’s found a new dream in Rapunzel. She’s his guiding light, and he knows that she has led him to the path he needs to be on. Unlike Rapunzel’s “I’m where I’m meant to be,” which signifies the completion of her dream, Eugene’s “I’m where I’m meant to go” signifies the start of a brand new dream.

tangled rapunzel eugene lights

Now, let’s go back to that chorus:

And at last I see the light, and it’s like a fog has lifted

And at last I see the light, and it’s like the sky is new

And it’s warm and real and right,

And the world has somehow shifted

All at once, everything looks different

Now that I see you

tangled now that i see you

This is important: the chorus pops up twice.

The first time, it’s sung by solely Rapunzel, after her verses end. The “now that I see you” occurs just as she turns and sees Eugene. Now, why is that important? Well, Rapunzel’s completed her dream to see the lights. And now, she’s realizing she has a new dream: Eugene. Now that she sees him, it’s clear that she wants him, and that she’s realized the depth of her feelings for him.

The second time, it’s a true duet. The inner monologues end, and Rapunzel and Eugene come together to sing their feelings out like a true Disney couple. It shows that they’re not afraid to express how they feel about one another, and also that they’re on the same page about their feelings.

The chorus is all about what it’s like to gain perspective. “A fog has lifted.” “The sky is new.” These are lines that relate to that moment when everything becomes clear, and suddenly you realize what’s most important to you. For our protagonists, that’s them realizing their feelings for one another, and how important they are to each other. Now, everything is different. They’ve shed their past dreams and started a brand new dream, together.

 

So This Is Love – Cinderella (Mel)

cinderella and prince

I am such a sap about Cinderella, so prepare for lots of gushing about this song.

So This Is Love is Cinderella and Prince Charming’s love song, and it’s pretty adorable. It’s an interesting case where there’s a duet, but neither part is actually singing out loud. Instead, it’s internal monologue about how they feel about finding love.

So this is love -humming-

So this is love

So this is what makes life divine

It’s important to focus on the visuals here. We get to see a close up of Cinderella and the Prince’s radiant grins, and the way they stare at each other in awe as they dance. It’s easy to see how enthralled Cinderella is with the Prince, and vice versa. For Cinderella, who’s grown up without much love after her father’s death, finding love with someone like the Prince certainly “makes life divine.”

cinderella and her princey dancing

I’m all aglow -humming-

And now I know (and now I know)

The key to all heaven is mine

“The key to all heaven is mine” relates to their feelings for one another: meeting one another has unlocked all kinds of happiness that neither of them even knew existed. There’s a Katy Perry somewhere that says “they say you know when you know,” and Cinderella and Prince Charming certainly seem to know that this is love, and this is the love they need to find eternal happiness with one another.

My heart has wings -humming again-

And I can fly

I’ll touch every star in the sky

This part is really beautiful to me, because the wings and flying metaphor ties in so well for Cinderella, who’s always been grounded by the cruelty her stepfamily shows toward her. She always had the faith that she would get out of her situation and the determination to never give up on her dreams, but now she’s found someone who makes her heart soar, and gives her more hope than she had before. With the Prince, she sees a new route opening, and he could be exactly what she needs to get out of her grim living situation.

So this is the miracle that I’ve been dreaming of

So this is love

cinderella otp

We know that Cinderella’s been dreaming of miracles, but this also brings up the interesting point that the Prince has been looking for a wife, so he’s probably been dreaming that he’ll find someone that he loves deeply and wants to spend the rest of his life with. And while Cinderella’s found an escape in love, he’s found a future in his love for her as well. Ah, young love.

 

Once Upon a Dream – Sleeping Beauty (Mic)

sleeping beauty dance

This is a song that has about five lyrics repeated over and over again. It’s a very dreamy (get it?) perception of love and has touches of pre-destination in it. Like, they “met” in a dream, okay? There’s no depth to this song or this interpretation of love.

Mel would like to  add that the pre-destination feeling could be because they’ve met before, and can be why they’re so familiar to each other. Their original meeting feels like it happened once upon a dream.

I think, more so, this song speaks to us about Aurora and how alone she feels. Her only friends are some woodland creatures and she’s been raised by three fairies in the middle of nowhere.

sleeping beauty playing prince

We don’t really know what her relationship with them is like, but it doesn’t seem like the fairies are very adept at parenting since they still can’t do anything without magic after sixteen years.

sleeping beautiy cake candles life copy

So Aurora wants love and that makes sense.

Yet I know it’s true that visions are seldom all they seem

But if I know you, I know what you’ll do

You’ll love me at once, the way you did once upon a dream

I think this first line definitely shows us that she’s been let down in love (the fairies?) before. Or she’s heard stories. But this also goes back the fairy tale aspect of most Disney films. True Love, Happily Ever After, etc. Lots of people don’t believe in those, or think it’s cheesy. People get hurt, a lot of times it doesn’t work out. But this song is basically telling you not to be a cynic. Sure, things don’t work out, dreams don’t always come true, but this time…

Or it’s a song about a guy and a girl meeting in woods and admiring the gleam in each other’s eyes. I don’t know.

 

Learn to Do It (Waltz Reprise) – Anastasia (Mel)

anastasia dance

Anastasia’s love song is interesting, because not only is it a reprise, but it’s not sung from the perspective of either of the couple. In fact, it’s from the matchmaker’s perspective, as he realizes that he’s inadvertedly pushed Dimitri and Anastasia together in the midst of their scheme.

anastasia dimitri vlad

It’s one, two, three,

And suddenly, I see it at a glance

She’s radiant, and confident,

And born to take this chance

Here, Vladimir admires his handiwork; watching Anastasia dance proves to him that he made the right choice, choosing her for his con. By bringing out her confidence and teaching her about Anastasia’s life, he and Dimitri have gotten her ready for this. She’s “born to take this chance” – which fits in more ways than one, considering Anya actually is the lost Anastasia.

anastasia

The “it” Vladimir refers to could also refer to the romance between Dimitri and Anya, which he gets into here:

I taught her well, I planned it all,

I just forgot… romance

Vladimir may have planned out everything, but he forgot to plan for the unexpected. He didn’t realize that despite Dimitri and Anya’s initial distaste for each other, they might end up falling in love. And here’s where he’s bittersweet about the whole thing.

anastasia shock copy

Obviously, he wants Dimitri to be happy, considering how close they are, but the emotional attachment might cause issues for them, and he doesn’t want his best friend to get hurt. At this point, he’s also grown fond of Anya, so he’s worried about them both. He scolds himself, saying:

Vlad, how could you do this?

How will we get through this?

I should have never let them dance

But unfortunately for Vladimir, it’s a little too late to sulk about it, so he’s just going to have to deal with the fact that Dimitri and Anya are falling for one another. (And lucky for him, and them, it ends up working out in the end.)

anastasia kiss

One interesting thing I noticed when I watched this scene was the way that Dimitri and Anya move in perfect harmony when they waltz. It shows their connection, and how normally stubborn Anya lets Dimitri take the lead, trusting him not to screw things up. I thought that was a nice touch to foreshadow this romance, and how opening up to one another and trusting each other is ultimately what strengthens a relationship. You can’t have a relationship without trust, after all.

 

Love – Robin Hood (Mic)

Love is a super short song in Robin Hood. The singer has this very dreamy quality to her voice that emphasizes this idea that love changes you, everything happens in a bubble:

Once we watched a lazy world go by

Now the days seem to fly

robin hood hug

While this song talks about love surpassing death and going on forever and being more precious than life, it also personifies love. That really threw me off.

Love

It seems like only yesterday

You were just a child at play

Now you’re all grown up inside of me

robin hood ring so cute

At first I was like, “Umm… okay weird.” But the more I thought about it, the more sense it made. Yes, we all have the capacity to love as children. Love has always been… inside us… but it’s not until we grow up that we learn how to really love another person romantically. We start out loving our family and ourselves–and most of the time we have to learn how to love ourselves, too. Sadly, it’s not innate. As we make friends, we learn how to love them and be good friends in return. In the same fashion, we also stumble around in the dark when it comes to romantic love.

robin hood love

Love matures as we mature. I think that’s a great message to send.

 

If I Never Knew You – Pocahontas (Mel)

If I Never Knew You is interesting because it was originally a deleted scene that they cut from the theatrical release due to it making the film drag a bit. Fun fact: they did add it back in on the 10th year anniversary when it was rereleased on DVD. It’s also that song in the credits of Pocahontas, so you’ve likely heard it before if you’ve see the movie all the way through.

lion gross sobbing reaction

Anyway, this scene is really sweet, and builds off the dialogue Pocahontas and John Smith share, when she visits him the night before her father is going to execute him. She tells him that she thinks it would be better if they’d never met, and he tells her: “I would rather die tomorrow than live a hundred years without knowing you.”

One of the most important things about this song is the fact that it makes a really excellent point. Who would John Smith be if he’d never met Pocahontas?

pocahontas you think the only people who are people

There are two really great sets of lines where he muses about this:

If I never knew you, if I never felt this love

I would have no inkling of how precious life can be

(AND)

If I never knew you, I’d be safe but half as real

Without Pocahontas, John Smith wouldn’t be the man that he is now. At this point, he’s come a long way from the man who thinks of the New World as “a land I can claim, a land I can tame.”

pocahontas with stick

Pocahontas’ influence has shown him a whole new perspective. Without her to push him and challenge his views, he may have never gained that perspective.

(That sound you hear is Mic sobbing uncontrollably.)

I really, really love that second line in there: “I’d be safe but half as real.” There’s a saying that you’ve probably heard: ignorance is bliss. If John Smith had never met Pocahontas, he would be safe, since he probably wouldn’t even be in this situation, about to be executed. His former beliefs would also be safe from scrutiny. But, again, he’d only be “half as real.” He gets a nice dose of reality from Pocahontas in “Colors of the Wind,” and that’s ultimately what forces him to take a look at himself and how he views the world. He values what he’s gained from knowing her, and even though he knows he would be safer not knowing her, he also wouldn’t be the man that he is now, so it wouldn’t really be worth it.

pocahontas if i never knew you 5pocahontas if i never knew you 6

In this world so full of fear,

Full of rage and lies,

I can see the truth so clear

In your eyes

I thought this was actually a really interesting stanza to include, considering that this song takes place right in between Savages Parts 1 and 2. “Savages” is all about the misconceptions both sides carry about one another, and the lies that they believe about one another. Both sides are filled with rage and fear toward each other. But Pocahontas and John Smith have moved past the misconceptions and seen the truth in one another.

I thought our love would be beautiful

Somehow we’d make the whole world bright

I never knew that fear and hate could be so strong

Here, Pocahontas is realizing that love can’t always conquer all; they never thought that their love could make things worse, and that fear and hatred could overcome everything they were working to prevent.

But still my heart is singing, we were right

But, despite the hardships, they know that they’re in the right. Because they are in love, and because they’re taken the time to understand each other’s side and learn about one another, they have a clearer view of one another and they know their truth. They just have to prove it to everyone else (which they end up doing).

There are also some really great callbacks to other songs earlier on in the movie. We get flashbacks of Colors of the Wind. That song references how they’re all connected to each other “in a circle, in a hoop that never ends,” and the two of them are intertwined throughout the song.

pocahontas if i never knew you 3

Compare that to here:

pocahontas and john smith 4

And in a callback to “Just Around the Riverbend,” Pocahontas sees herself and John Smith reflected in the water, and John Smith disappears, much like Kocoum did.

pocahontas should i marry kocoum

But this time, John Smith is the one letting go of her hand, while Pocahontas was the one who let Kocoum go. It’s symbolic of how they know that tomorrow, he will be gone, and his goodbye to her, in a way.

pocahontas farewell 1pocahontas farewell 2

Also, note the way that John Smith looks up from the darkness and turns his face to the light when he’s alone at the end of the song. Even though his situation is dark and grim, he has hope, all because he knew her.

reaction owl fangirl hearts happy

We’ll be back with more songs on Saturday! What are your favorite animated love songs? And who are your favorite animated couples? Let us know what you think in the comments.

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Cheers!

M&M