Category Archives: pre-renaissance

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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cinderella's first dress

cinderella's mouse shirt

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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.”

cinderella and prince

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

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Sleeping Beauty: Adding Agency to a Dark and Gruesome Story

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I thought since I gave Once Upon a Dream such a hard time in our Love Songs Extravaganza, I would take a closer look at Sleeping Beauty and its many versions. Let me tell you, that is one messed up story. It’s so weird and sickening, firstly I don’t know how anyone came up with it. Secondly, I don’t know why Disney thought they could turn it into something normal-ish.

*I’m just telling you now, this post involves frank talk of virginity (and I’m not pleasant to it), rape (I will provide a trigger warning), and general feminist feelings. Mel and I have said this numerous times and I’m stating it again: We have no interest in debating the meaning of feminism. Now that the PSA is done, on with the meta!

By far, the Grimm’s version of Sleeping Beauty most resembles the Disney movie. But there are two other versions of Sleeping Beauty that are fairly well-known. One is by Charles Perrault and the other by a man named Giambattista Basile. They all share the similarity of the spindle, sleep, and a royal dude swooping in to save the day. They don’t, I was a little surprised to find, all share fairies.

Despite what I said about Once Upon a Dream, if you asked me which version of Sleeping Beauty was my favorite, I would tell you it was Disney’s. I’ve had a stage in my life where pretty much every Disney movie has been “my favorite.” Sleeping Beauty was no exception. So I gave this song a hard time a couple weeks ago, but don’t let that fool you.

I think Disney’s interpretation of the different fairy tale versions gives the story some more development, conflict, and definitely made it a lot less gorier and more accessible for audiences to enjoy. Let’s go through each version.

Perrault
The story starts out similar to what we’d expect. There is a big party for the christening of the princess. Seven out of the eight fairies are invited and then the eighth one shows up scorning this rejection. No one invited her because they thought she had died. She curses the princess but then the curse is lessened by the final fairy’s gift. This is all the stuff we know. We expect this. There is no prince, however, that is betrothed to the princess (like Philip and Aurora). And really, the fairies’ gifts aren’t important, not like in the Disney film.

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But after the random prince braves the thorns around the castle to wake her, something really weird happens. Apparently the prince’s mother is an ogre and orders the chef to cook her grandkids so she can eat them. The cook substitutes animals for the children, like when the Huntsman in Snow White tries to pass off a pig’s heart for the princess’. After she believes she ate her grandkids, the evil ogre queen then wants to eat the figure we know as Sleeping Beauty. The chef reunites the princess with her kids and again serves animal, but this time the ogre figures out and wants to kill the cook. The prince arrives to save the day and the queen dies in her own plot.

Definitely not the Disney story we know. So what was the moral of this story supposed to be? I have no clue. I know fairy tales were grim to teach children lessons, but was the lesson here? WHAT DOES THE CHILD EATING OGRE WOMAN REPRESENT?

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Okay, so what did Disney take from this story? Well, they took the notion of the fairies and one feeling rejected and taking revenge. They had one fairy able to reverse the curse a bit and put everyone to sleep while the princess slept. There were thorns around the castle and a prince and a kiss. There was the spindle. They also found Sleeping Beauty’s name. The princess in Perrault’s story names one of her children L’Aurore, which Disney changed to Aurora.

sleeping beauty painting

The princess in this version has very little agency, much like our Aurora. The curse hangs over her head and has to be fulfilled before anything can move forward. As a result, the whole story takes place in a sort of waiting room and so the princess’ growth is skipped over to reach the conflict.

Both princesses are shielded from their gruesome fate—spindles being kept from them and living in a state of ignorance. Does it send the message women cannot take care of themselves? Why didn’t anyone ever tell the princess she was cursed? Can anything even be done? The king and queen thought they could trick fate by burning the spinning wheels.

Let’s pause on Perrault and move to Basile. TRIGGER WARNING: rape.

Basile
I am resisting the urge to swear heavily. Basile’s version is probably even more messed up that Perrault’s. Did you hear that? Something is worse than the child eating ogre.

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So Aurora is named Talia here and there is no evil fairy that curses her. Instead wise men/astrologers predict the future, totally annihilating the power role the fairies had in the previous version. ‘Fairy’ is not inherently female, but Disney made their fairies all women and the Perrault and Grimm version never state the sex of the fairies. Perhaps to leave it ambiguous or maybe they assumed we would assume female. Or this is me assuming female and demonstrating my own gender labeling based on expectations that ‘fairies’ are more feminine than masculine.

Anyway, Talia is asleep and her father is so miserable that he leaves the castle, unlike the previous story where everyone was put to sleep so they would be together once the curse was broken. By chance, a random king walks by and sees the castle. He goes inside and rapes Talia. Then he leaves because what else is he going to do with an unconscious woman? Talia somehow gives birth to twins and one of them sucks her finger. Similar to the Snow White story where she falls and the piece of apple she ate is dislodged from her throat so she wakes up, Talia’s baby sucks the spindle right out of her finger.

I want to just pause here. Look it’s 2015 and rape is still not treated with the respect and anger is deserves. I could throw statistics of rape at you, about how many women have been abused, how many men don’t think rape is a crime or that they can’t even properly define rape, how many rapists never serve time, how women are treated upon reporting the abuse, how sexual abuse is categorized as one of the most severe traumas a person can go through, victim blaming, not believing rape claims despite the number of women that lie about rape is astronomically low, etc.

Basile’s story was published in the 1600s, so if it’s still a mess today, you know it was then.

The worst thing about this might be how this story props up the rapist as the hero. After all, his raping of an unconscious woman he’d never met before, made her bear two children and one of them sucked the spindle right out of her finger! Thus, Talia would have never woken up if not for her rapist. That is so sickening and disgusting. It turns the villain into a hero and the victim and into someone that should be… grateful?

Back to the Golden Globes joke: “And Sleeping Beauty just thought she was getting coffee with Bill Cosby.” Look, it probably made sense even if you just knew the Disney story, but it makes more sense with Basile’s story for greater context.

Worse, when Talia wakes up and is confused and probably terrified she now has two babies, the king eventually returns. Just because he probably wanted to rape her again. Who knows? But probably. Of course he finds her and explains what happened AND THEY GET MARRIED.

I don’t think any woman would willingly choose to marry their rapists. On a related note, marital rape is another huge issue that many people refuse to admit or acknowledge. Husbands can’t rape their wives (and vice versa) because they’re married. No, I’m sorry. Consent once is not consent always. Both partners need to give consent every single time. Marriage does not equal ownership of the other person’s body.

But back to this story. Here’s more good news: The king is already married! Look at this raping, adulterous bastard! He’s the hero of the story, everyone. Basile, you need counseling. Neither of these things is okay.

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So the queen finds out about Talia and the babies. She writes Talia, pretending to be the king, and asks Talia to visit and bring the babies. Has Talia just been living in her castle with no subjects since waking up? Did Talia exist just to be raped?

Like Perrault’s story, the queen wants the cook to cook the babies and the cook substitutes animal meat. The queen serves it to the king and then tries to have Talia burned at the stake—as if Talia didn’t already have enough shit going on. The perfect king finds out what is going on and punishes the queen by burning her and marries Talia, as I mentioned above.

I hate how both these stories portray the queens as nothing more than evil, jealous women. How about putting some blame on the man? And why is cannibalism so prominent in both these stories? What is it a symbol of? It must be a symbol, right? It’s not an anti-cheating story since Sleeping Beauty and the king thwart the queen and are together in the end. Anyone, please, help.

Disney

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Okay, so Disney took these very weird stories and maybe some lesser known versions, too, and turned it into the pretty movie we now have.

The biggest change was reconstructing Aurora as a character and the love story. However, I’d say the love story more so since Aurora as a character is still pretty flat. She’s pretty, she sings, and she’s kind. Maleficent and the other fairies probably got the biggest face-lift, compared to Aurora.

Sleeping Beauty follows the pre-Renaissance Disney formula pretty well. It’s short, it’s got a one dimensional villain, a love story, and an un-dimensional princess. However, it upsets this mold in one crucial way. While we love to say Prince Eric is the first Disney prince with a personality, we have to admit that the first attempt at this was made with Philip.

  • Philip: A Healthier Love Story

Snow White and Cinderella preceded this film and firstly, both their princes were named Prince Charming. While Snow’s prince showed up briefly at the beginning and then again at the end and had a stalker-ish song, Cinderella’s prince had one line and was only present during the ball. By the time Disney made Sleeping Beauty, they’d also done Peter Pan and Lady and the Tramp, two films that had developed their male characters a little more. So they followed that trend with SB and we got Philip! Maybe we’d give Philip Eric’s title if he didn’t suddenly stop talking once he gets captured by Maleficent.

sleeping beauty phillip

Disney recognized how problematic and messed up some of SB’s stories were and knew it had to start by attempting to fix that with the love story. Aurora and Philip’s families know each other, which instantly reduces the creepy factor, but also makes the story more believable. Think about the other stories where a prince just randomly happens by the castle and goes inside. Disney’s idea of having the families be old friends means they can’t live too far apart and there’s higher probability their kids will meet. Of course, they’re also betrothed, but that doesn’t really play a part till later.

When they have their real first meeting in the forest, as you read when I talked about Once Upon a Dream, it didn’t sit as well with me. But after going over these stories again, it is ten times better and also probably a little uncomfortable because Sleeping Beauty is an uncomfortable story. Disney worked with the source material as best they could. Aurora initially refuses, as Talia probably would have had she been awake. Also, Disney pre-Renaissance ladies have a thing for running from their men. Snow White runs away as soon as she meets him and hides in the castle, while Cinderella runs at the ball.

sleeping beauty cuddling

However, Philips proves himself to be semi-decent and they both go all googly-eyed over each other. While Aurora doesn’t fully run, she is reluctant at first. They make a plan to see each other later, both of them having no clue that everything is about to go bananas. Philip and Aurora return home—scenes we get to see! Which is so great. Philip is fleshed out here with the relationship with his father and showing us he’s determined to follow his own path. In Aurora’s scene we see that she feels like she got what she wanted in her song I Wonder.

Having them meet, while the audience knows they’re betrothed, and seeing them fall in love is so great. It makes us yell at the screen in frustration when Philip tells his father he’s not marrying Princess Aurora. It makes us sad for Aurora when she thinks she’ll be forced to marry someone else. It adds tension to the story as we wait for the revelation to strike both of them.

sleeping beauty dance

The love story ends on a healthy/happy note when Philip kisses her awake and breaks the spell. He reunites her with her family and they dance. Disney often uses dance as a symbol of love and intimacy and even elevates the scene by having them dance on a cloud. They’re on cloud nine, in the heavens, whatever you want to see there. But I take it to mean they’re insanely happy and all good things will come for them moving forward. Much better than the other versions!

  • Maleficent: A One Dimensional Villain, But a Total Badass

The evil fairy in Perrault’s and Bastile’s versions don’t do much besides show up in the beginning to curse the princess. Disney’s film integrated Maleficent into the story and made her totally awesome. Again, she is a flat character since she really hates Aurora for no reason and does nothing but try to destroy her life, but she’s compelling to watch and definitely plays a bigger role in the story than any other version.

sleeping beauty FOOLS

Because Disney gave more agency to the fairies, which I’ll get to soon, Maleficent has to spend a healthy part of the film trying to discover Aurora’s hideout. Her crow is an extension of her and we dislike that little shit as much as we dislike Maleficent.

Maleficent also captures Philip! She has so much more to do in this version, which is great. She’s also got minions to order around and can turn into a dragon and work her villainy like no one else. Maleficent stands in everyone’s way: the king and queen are afraid of her, her mission is to destroy Aurora, Philip needs to escape from her, and the fairies want her to stop destroying their flowers.

  • The Fairies

I know we all like to say the fairies were useless.

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However, Disney also gives them a bigger role. They don’t just lessen Maleficent’s curse, they also get names (as does everyone, actually!) and then come up with a way to hide Aurora. The fairies in the other versions were pretty useless, except when they put everyone to sleep. Here they also play a bigger role and raise Aurora. Of course, we skip over that period to get to the conflict, as I mentioned in Perrault’s section.

But we do spend some time with them getting ready for Aurora’s surprise party. We see the dress debacle which is so important since it carries though to the the final scene! The book closes with the dress still changing colors. They also chase after Aurora when Maleficent pulls her into the trance and lures her to the spindle. They care for the little girl they raised for sixteen years.

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Arguably, it’s really the fairies that save the day. They put everyone to sleep, not to mention tuck Aurora into bed and cry by her side. Then they sneak into Maleficent’s compound instead of just poofing in. They rescue Philip and do everything for him. Seriously. The fairies are useless since their magic fight alerts the crow and then they leave Aurora alone in the castle, but they do save the day. Which just goes to show you, we can’t all be the hero all the time.

  •  The Brothers Grimm

What else did Disney do to the story? Not much. I told you previously that the movie follows the Grimm’s tale closest. The Brothers Grimm really did the most work re-patching the story into anything we’d want to watch on screen.

The opening narration tells us the king and queen have wanted a child for a long time. In the Grimm story, they are also longing for a child and a frog pops out of nowhere and says they’ll have one. Cue the party!

The Grimm tale tells us why the fairies were invited, though they are called “wise women” here. Point is, they were invited so they’d be “kindly disposed towards the child.” And of course, one was not invited, the thirteenth (hehe), because they were short a place setting! Seriously? You’re a king and you can’t find another plate?

are you effing serious

The Disney movie cuts this detail out and Maleficent just pops up and scares the crap put of everyone.

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However, the fairies/wise women give gifts of beauty. The Grimm tale also has them give virtue and wealth among others we never hear. The Disney version subs in song. I like these changes since she doesn’t need more wealth—although, maybe they do need money to buy more plates. Song goes in line with Disney just fine since all their women and men sing.

Virtue is something I’m glad they cut that since the concept of “virginity” is just that, a concept. Women are pressured to be a virgin because it makes them pure and chaste and the moment they “give it away” or “lose it” they’re not worth anything anymore. Or they don’t have a “gift” to give to their husband. No, sorry, ladies. That is untrue. Don’t believe it. Does the man need a gift to give his wife? No, he doesn’t. While women are vilified for being a “prude” or a “slut,” so you can’t win either way, the concept of virginity does plague boys in a different way. Boys are encouraged to get rid of it as soon as possible. I could go on for hours about this and tell you that the hymen does not actually rip (so what is “virginity?”), but it’s time to get back to Sleeping Beauty.

Or, hey, maybe virtue didn’t mean virginity at all and again, that’s my own bias coming in. Maybe it just meant that she would be a good, moral person. But given the double standard around virginity and taking into account when the Grimm’s version was composed, I’m going to see it as purity.

Beauty is bothersome, but that’s Disney. And fairy tales. And everyone’s perception of women ever, throughout time.

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I know, Aurora. I know.

Same story goes on from here: last fairy lessens the severity of the curse, spindles are burned, and then it changes. Disney definitely ups the ante here and deepens the plot with having the fairies attempt to hide Aurora, as previously discussed.

Disney also found inspiration for some of its imagery from the Grimm story. See:

“She climbed up the narrow, winding stairs and arrived at a small door.”

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That does remind us of the scene Disney put together, doesn’t it? I love the music in that scene, the eerie tenseness it provides. The green tint also strengthens the atmosphere. It makes it very clear to us that Aurora is in a trance, something none of the other stories have done. It gives Maleficent’s villainy more power, something Disney did consistently.

Here’s the moment the prince approaches the castle:

“When the prince approached the thorn hedge, it was nothing but large, beautiful flowers that separated by themselves, allowing him to pass through without harm, but then behind him closed back into a hedge.”

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The fairies do change Maleficent’s arrows during the escape to flowers. Different context, yes, but Disney probably pulled some inspiration from this moment. Side note: the escape is one of my favorite scenes.

What to Take Away
I know I said a lot of things. As you can see, Sleeping Beauty has a long history and the stories are really bizarre and pretty messed up.

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Disney took the skeleton of the Perrault and Basile’s versions, while embracing the Grimm tale more fully. They left out the creepy cannibalism aspects and the rape and added more conflict and agency to the story.

The fairies bestow gifts, lessen the curse, come up with a plan to shield Aurora, fail, put everyone to sleep, help Philip defeat Maleficent.

Aurora is not just the princess that is cursed, pricks her finger, and sleeps. She has friends in the forest, wants to fall in love and does, and then sleeps. Disney did a good job with working what they had.

Philip is not a rapist! Yay, Philip! Instead he’s not just the nameless prince that happens about. He meets Aurora, he’s determined to find her again, he’s really close with his horse (original Sven and Kristoff, anyone?), and a good dancer.

The characters are better, while still be arguably flat. The more offensive aspects of the story have been erased: the rape, “virtue,” and jealous wives/queens.

In short: Disney took this dark and gruesome tale and turned it into a story we heard once upon a dream. (Cheesy? I tried.)

What do yo guys think? Have you read the original Sleeping Beauty stories? WHAT DOES THE ORGRE CHILD EATING QUEEN MEAN? Someone help me.

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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.

snow white evil queen mirror

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

sleeping beauty FOOLS

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.

whatever cinderella reaction

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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.

beauty and the beast fabulous reaction

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

Disney Villain Songs: Part One

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Not too long ago, Mel did an amazing series where she analyzed Disney Princess “I Want” songs. Let’s start 2015 by spotlighting the villains we love to hate and hate to love.

Disney is most famous for their animated musicals and fairy tales, but the Villain Song only really came to fruition with Disney’s Renaissance and the creation of The Little Mermaid. Think about it, Snow White had an I Want song, but The Evil Queen didn’t. Cinderella had an I Want song, but The Evil Stepmother (Lady Tremaine) didn’t. Disney villains got much more fleshed out with every movie—including their names (come on, Evil Queen? Were they even trying?).

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I don’t know either, Ariel.

Many Disney movies don’t have clean cut villains like The Evil Queen, but even she represents something deeper. The Evil Queen is symbolic of jealousy, while other films like the Jungle Book are about the danger man poses to animals and nature. The Aristocats is more so about what greed can drive someone to do. How do you give that a song? The nature of how Disney tells their stories has changed, with the Renaissance films focusing more on individual characters and growth. By that logic, the villains needed to evolve to cause a threat to the main character. The villains had to become less abstract.

Pre-Renaissance Songs

There are two slight exceptions to this pre-Renaissance rule, however. Peter Pan and 101 Dalmatians both feature Disney villains in the pre-Renaissance era that have songs sung ABOUT them.

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Peter Pan has A Pirate’s Life and The Elegant Captain Hook, which are kind of one song, but whatever. Hook has his own boy band singing his praise and it totally works since all the Lost Boys, John, and Michael are ready to sign up to a life of piracy in seconds. Hook himself only gets about a chorus where he threatens everyone’s life:

A special offer today I’ll tell you what I’ll do
All those who sign without delay will get a free tattoo
Why it’s like money in the bank
Come on, join up and I’ll be frank
Unless you do, you’ll walk the plank
The choice is up to you

Definitely villain song material—and I’ve never seen one done so elegantly. This is the first Disney film where the antagonist sings and it’s typical MUAHAHA villainy.

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Similar to Hook, except she doesn’t sing at all because who has time for that, Cruella De Vil has a song about her in 101 Dalmatians. The song heralds her arrival and tells the audience how we’re supposed to feel about her. I mean, “devil woman,” and “if she doesn’t scare you, no evil thing will,” speak for themselves.

Cruella is also framed in the doorway very creepily and Roger’s ominous tone continue to lead the audience. It’s not like Cruella makes a much better first impression when we finally meet her, blowing smoke everywhere, searching like a madwoman for the puppies, her holier than thou attitude.

101 blast this pen101 this wretched pen

Once she leaves, the song continues and Roger has many more insults to spew, which the audience is probably agreeing with at this point.

Now, onto the Disney Renaissance, which gave us music and dastardly foes!

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Poor Unfortunate Souls

Ursula’s song in The Little Mermaid gives us so much to think about. First we get a little of her backstory:

…in the past I’ve been a nasty
They weren’t kidding when they called me, well, a witch

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Ursula tries to paint herself as a saint now. She uses magic (“a talent [she’s] always possessed”) to help the “miserable, lonely, and depressed.” Of course she can’t hide her true nature and whispers to her cronies that she finds her clients “pathetic.” Or she finds exploiting Ariel too easy it’s just pathetic. I love double meanings.

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She’s manipulating Ariel with a false version of herself, claiming she helps so many people and makes their lives better. She’s promising Ariel the same thing.

The next facet of the song is men’s views of women, something we’ve covered briefly in our other Little Mermaid meta.

You’ll have your looks, your pretty face.
And don’t underestimate the importance of body language, ha!

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The men up there don’t like a lot of blabber
They think a girl who gossips is a bore!
Yes on land it’s much preferred for ladies not to say a word
And after all dear, what is idle prattle for?
Come on, they’re not all that impressed with conversation
True gentlemen avoid it when they can
But they dote and swoon and fawn
On a lady who’s withdrawn
It’s she who holds her tongue who get’s a man

Today, this is vastly considered an outdated, wrong opinion to have. But it is so ingrained in our society that some people don’t even realize they still have these views. Women are encouraged to have a career, to use their voice, but women still earn less than a man, they do not hold as many positions of leadership, and many times their ideas are not taken seriously until a male colleague suggests it.

A woman’s looks are still very important, too. There are unrealistic standards women are expected to live up to. Everyone knows how the media warps and twists things, but what about women in power? There are countless articles about what Hilary Clinton, Michelle Obama, the Duchess of Cambridge are wearing, their make-up, or their hair instead of what these women are actually doing. Even when a woman uses her voice and has power, she is brought down by the media and reduced to her looks.

To have a Disney song tackle this issue and use it as a “scare tactic” essentially from Ursula to Ariel gives the song a great, complex layer. She’s basically saying, “You’re worried you won’t have your voice? Don’t worry, I’m actually doing you a favor by taking it. He won’t want it.” Poor Unfortunate Souls is a twisty-turny, manipulative song and is a fantastic start to the inception of Villain Songs!

my body is ready

Gaston

What could be more vain and villainous than to name a song about yourself?

hercules like a boss

Like Poor Unfortunate Souls, this song also sheds some light onto Gaston for us. We learn he’s always been obsessed with his looks (“when I was a lad I ate four dozen eggs”), he’s always had gross macho tastes (“I use antlers in all of my decorating”), and he loves to spit (“I’m especially good at expectorating!”).

But really, this song shows us how Gaston feels entitled to Belle, how he sees her as property he should be able to own because he wants her and it doesn’t matter how she feels.

Who does she think she is?
That girl has tangled with the wrong man.
No one says ‘no’ to Gaston
Dismissed! Rejected!
Publicly humiliated! Why, it’s more than I can bear

First, you tangled with her, dude. Belle did not want to tangle with you and made that very clear. Second, man has some deep entitlement issues. Third, his pride was wounded when Belle rejected him in front of everyone, so that’s really what he’s most angry about. He never cared about Belle. He cared about the image she was: the pretty girl in town. She was an enigma to everyone. No one quite knew what to make of her. By claiming her, Gaston would have won the prize, essentially.

This song is representative of larger issues that plague us today, like when young athletes do not get properly punished for raping girls. The media laments their promising career, caring nothing about the victim. This song is the entire town coming together to make Gaston feel better, to tell him how much they all adore him and how perfect he is. Gaston hasn’t done anything wrong in this song.

Gaston did not rape Belle, but the scene where he proposes in her home certainly has elements of rape culture in them. He goes to her home. He pushes himself through the doorway when everything about Belle is radiating “I do not want you here.” And Belle has that right. She can not want to be around someone. She can not want them inside her home. A woman does not have to verbally say “no”— her body language can convey that, the tone of her voice, even. And Belle conveys that she is in a situation she does not want to be in.

beauty and the beast do not want

A sampling of the things he says in that scene: “There’s not a girl in town who wouldn’t love to be in your shoes.” And: “This is the day your dreams come true.”

Basically: “I am God’s gift to women, worship me.”

He’s literally forcing himself on her even as she’s trying to say no. She is pressed against the door and ducking away from him as he tries to kiss her. That is forcing himself on her. This scene directly leads to the angst ridden Gaston we meet during his Villain Song moment. He feels unjustly rejected.

Like Poor Unfortunate Souls, the song gives some insight into our villains and also looks at what men expect from women. In Ursula’s case, the woman was supposed to be pretty and quiet and not cause trouble. For Gaston, women should be mindless and worship him. They cannot say no.

Prince Ali (reprise)

Jafar’s villain song in Aladdin doesn’t come until the end of story when he thinks he’s won. It’s very different from the other two because it is a victory song. It has its roots in Hook singing about threatening children since here, Jafar is carrying out his master plan in song. Man, what a great evil laugh.

Jafar blows Aladdin’s masquerade and banishes him. He’s got control of the genie; Jasmine and the sultan are powerless. This song vastly differs in tone from the other two. Ursula is trying to get her plan in motion and succeeds by the end of the song. Gaston is in a “Woe Is Me” mood and in the man-dumps. Not Jafar. No way, this guy is winning. And he’s insulting people:

His personality flaws,
give me adequate cause
to send him packing on a one-way trip

aladdin and jafar slap

If personality flaws are all we need, I think there’s a lovely trip waiting for Jafar, too.

Jafar’s villain song is really short, but it changes the game for all villain songs that follow.

Be Prepared

Scar is plotting in The Lion King. He’s got big plans to murder his brother and take over as king. This song combines all the elements we’ve seen in the previous ones: bit of backstory, thinks he’s the best thing since sliced bread, and insults galore.

bitch i'm fabulous

We all joke about Scar and “what was Scar’s name before he got the scar?” But the truth is, we don’t know much about Mufasa and Scar. We know they’re brothers and Mufasa was older so he became king. We know Scar resents this. We can infer that maybe Scar didn’t get enough love as a cub. One of the final lines in the song is “Be king undisputed, respected, saluted, and seen for the wonder I am.” From this, I’m guessing our speculation is true. Scar was always seen as second to Mufasa, a fast he’s always resented.

oh, goody

Like Ursula, Scar is still figuring out how to put his plans into motion. His previous attempts at assassinating his brother have failed. Like Gaston, he puts himself above everyone, including the hyenas that are trying to help him take power. And like Jafar, he’s got plenty of insults to go around. And by the end of the song, he’s reveling in his sure to come victory.

This particular villain’s song treads the darker side of an I Want song. Scar wants power, in fact, he deserves power (“justice deliciously squared”). While Ursula wants Ariel’s voice, and Gaston wants Belle, and Jafar doesn’t want anything because he’s already winning, those songs all have a bit of other meanings buried beneath them. Whereas, Be Prepared, is really Scar’s I Want song, and This is How I’m Gonna Get it And It’s Gonna Be Amazing song.

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Mine, Mine, Mine

Ratcliffe’s song in Pocahontas is really interesting. I think Pocahontas is one of Disney’s most underrated films and I have no idea why because it is AMAZING. There are a lot of layers to it.

The gold of Cortes
The jewels of Pizarro
Will seem like mere trinkets
By this time tomorrow
The gold we find here
Will dwarf them by far
Oh, with all ya got in ya, boys
Dig up Virginia, boys

This is essentially the conflict between the English settlers and the Native Americans. Ratcliffe and his men expect to become rich, richer than Cortes and his successful expeditions (ie: rape and genocide and disease). The stories of wealth from the New World are what they’re chasing. Ratcliffe doesn’t care about preserving the land or the homes of the people that already live there. From the first verse of this song, we know that Ratcliffe expects nothing less than vast riches. This villain song sets up the rest of the film. If Ratcliffe doesn’t find the gold, then he’s going to assume the Natives have hoarded it all for themselves and thus we have conflict.

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“Dig up Virginia, boys” is such a chilling line to me. It shows zero compassion. It reduces the Powhatan tribe to nothing, basically. They do not matter. And land is nothing more than a commodity.

Next, in a familiar trend, Ratcliffe’s song gives us a peek into his backstory, too.

My rivals back home
It’s not that I’m bitter
But think how they’ll squirm
When they see how I glitter!
The ladies at court
Will be all a-twitter

Ratcliffe wants fame and fortune, but he also wants to be better than his rivals. We don’t know much more than this, but it shows us he’s trying to prove himself. He’s competitive. He wants a story to beat Cortes’. He probably wants other people to eventually sing about finding more gold than him—but of course that’ll never happen because Virginia is the richest of them all.

Make the mounds big, boys
I’d help you to dig, boys
But I’ve got this crick in me spine

This provides another look into Ratcliffe. He expects the gold will earn him favor with the king (“My dear friend King Jimmy will probably build me a shrine” and “The king will reward me, he’ll knight me, no lord me”), but he also already treats himself as a king. He orders his sailors around, he has them do all the digging. They do the work and he gets the reward.

Keep on working, lads
Don’t be shirking, lads
Mine, boys, mind
Mine ME that gold
Beautiful gold

I love that part, where all the pretense is gone. The “I have a bad back” is transparent enough, but for a moment Ratcliffe is totally consumed by his want/greed that he can’t even remember to try and mask his villainy.

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But in a very different move, this song also features John Smith, the central male character of the film and also the love interest. He partly shares Ratcliffe’s views in that he sees the land as something he can take and “claim,” in his own words. He’s misguided like Ratcliffe, but he’s not there for the gold. He’s there for “adventure,” and to find “danger.” John Smith’s character arc entwines itself with Ratcliffe and then they run parallel to each other, both Englishmen going on separate journeys. They both traveled to Virginia because of land and they both share this song. Smith distances himself from the other settlers both visually (to the audience) and emotionally (he can’t see what Ratcliffe is doing, the destruction is not real to him) by not being part of the digging party. He’s already gone off to explore the new land.

It was an interesting and bold move to craft the song this way. This is the first villain song to include a non-villain character in it. Pocahontas is one of those films that has so many deeper meanings and Ratcliffe and Smith are both complex characters that prove this.

Conclusion

Next week I’ll tackle the deleted song from The Emperor’s New Grooze, Snuff out the Light. We’ll also wrap up with the final Villain Songs: Hellfire, Friends on the Other Side, and Mother Knows Best. I’ll also discuss the films Hercules, Mulan, Tarzan, Lilo & Stitch, and Frozen by exploring why these films lack Villain Songs.

Happy 2015! Sending wicked vibes your way for a good one.
Follow Animated Meta on Twitter and Tumblr!

What do you think of the Disney Villain Songs? Do you have a favorite?

Cheers!
-M&M

Disney Princess “I Want” Songs: Part 1

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Today, I’m talking about one of the fun aspects of the Disney Princess movies: the music. More specifically, I’m going to talk about each princess’s “I Want” song. That means that this post (and next Tuesday’s; I’ll explain in a moment) are going to be about what exactly an “I Want” song is, what the common trends are among them, and then I’m going to analyze those songs.

I’ve wanted to do this for a really, really long time, so I’m super excited to get started. But first, a few notes. I composed my Disney Princess list based on Disney’s considerations of what a Disney princess is, so that means Mulan, who technically isn’t royalty, makes it onto the list, while Eilonwy, Nala, Kiara, and others, who could be considered princesses in their own right, are not on the list. Maybe I’ll come back to them at some point later on.

Since there are 11 princesses with “I Want” songs, I’m going to be splitting this post right down the middle. Sorry guys; you’ll get the other half next Tuesday. I could do all 11 at once, but honestly, the word count would be really, really huge, and our eyes would all burn trying to read it, so it’s better to split it somewhere in the middle and save us both the pain. (Plus, it gives you something to anticipate! And isn’t that fun?)

I know that Merida counts as a Disney princess, but Merida is also a unique circumstance because she was created by Pixar, and does not have an “I Want” song in the tradition of the other princesses. She has an “I Want” speech, as my lovely blogging partner Mic pointed out, but that is not a song, so alas, she is not on the list. I also did not include Elsa on the list, because Elsa is a queen, and she’s also not a primary protagonist in the way that Anna is.

What On Earth is an “I Want” Song?
So what is an “I Want” song? If you’ve seen a Disney movie before, you’ve most likely heard one. According to TV Tropes, the purpose of the ‘I Want’ song is to “[establish] the character of the protagonist and their one burning desire that will motivate their actions from here on” (“I Want” Song). Basically, it tells you what on earth the character wants, and tells us a little something about the character as well. And since this is Disney and the majority of these movies end happily, the protagonist gets exactly what they wanted in the end.

A non-princess example: in The Hunchback of Notre Dame (which I just talked about recently), Quasimodo’s “I Want” song would be Out There. His want is to just have one day out in the open, just like everyone else. And what do you know? He gets that at the end of the movie, after some mishaps. 😉
So now that you know what the song is, you probably want to know why I chose this topic. Well, because 1) I love Disney music so much, and 2) because the last time I was on a Disney listening spree, I noticed patterns between all of the “I Want” songs.

The Top Three Wants
After a lot of listening, I’ve discovered a pattern…or rather, a few patterns. In general, there are three top wants that Disney characters tend to have:

1) Adventure
2) Acceptance
3) Love

Now, those all seem like pretty common wants, yes? That’s because they’re core human wants. Some of us long for adventure in the great wide somewhere, like Belle and Ariel. Some of us long for people to accept who we are deep down inside, like Mulan. And some of us have that deep-seated longing for love, like Snow White and Aurora.

Today, I’m only talking about five princesses to start with, which means we’ll get through the pre-Renaissance (the start of the princesses) and begin digging into the Disney Renaissance (which contains some of my absolute favorite Disney movies). And where better to start than the beginning of the princesses?

Pre-Renaissance Princesses
If you want to be technical, the pre-renaissance era at Disney is considered 1977-1988, which is way after all three of these movies were released. But I’ve always considered these pre-Renaissance because they take place before the Disney Renaissance, and thus are the beginning of Disney’s animated history. These all came out at least 50 years ago: Snow White came out in 1937, Cinderella came out more than a dozen years later in 1950, and Sleeping Beauty came out just before the 60s in 1959. Thus, these three often come off as the most dated to us, because they come from a very different time in history, with a very different set of values. However, I think the “I Want” songs still carry a lot of desires that we have today.

So let’s start with the original Disney Princess: the lovely Snow White.

Snow White: I’m Wishing

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Snow White’s “I Want” song is the pretty (if slightly piercing) “I’m Wishing.” Snow’s song is sweet, simple, and to the point: she wants someone to love, and she wants him to love her too. She dreams of him complimenting her as well, which makes sense, since she and the Evil Queen obviously doesn’t see eye to eye. From what little we can infer, it’s obvious Snow doesn’t have much of a social life early on in the movie.

So does Snow get her wish? Well, the second her song ends, the prince shows up, with his own song to sing for her (“One Song”) and then it seems like our lovebirds are all set. However, it takes a little longer than that for Snow and him to find one another again, especially since Snow’s busy hiding from the Evil Queen for the majority of the movie. However, in the end, her prince wakes her with true love’s kiss, and together they ride off to the castle. So it looks like that wishing well did Snow White some good after all.

 

Cinderella: A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes

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Okay, I’ll admit it: as a little girl, Cinderella was my absolute favorite Disney princess, so nostalgia clouds me whenever I think about this glorious movie. Even without my nostalgia lens though, her song is probably the best Pre-Renaissance princess song. “A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes” is pretty and hopeful, and I love it so much.

While Cinderella’s song doesn’t specifically say what she wants, I think it’s pretty obvious that Cinderella’s major want is to get out of her situation, mainly. She does her work without complaint, but it’s clear she would really rather be elsewhere – and who wouldn’t want to be elsewhere if they were her? All she does all day is work. She barely has time for anything else. She cleans, cooks, takes care of the animals…the works, basically. She doesn’t even have time to make her own dress for the ball; the mice have to do it for her, because she’s drowning in chores. And when Cinderella gets that magical night out, she paves the way to getting exactly what she wants. She meets the prince, has a romantic night with him, the shoe fits when he finds her, and happily ever after ensues. Another princess want achieved.

cinderella happy ending

 

Aurora: I Wonder

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Similar to Snow’s short song, Aurora has a tiny song of her own. It’s one I think we often forget about, since “Once Upon a Dream” is the more celebrated Sleeping Beauty song, but her “I Want” song, “I Wonder,” is very pretty and heartfelt. Just look at these pretty lyrics:

I wonder, I wonder
If my heart keeps singing
Will my song go winging
To someone who’ll find me
And bring back a love song to me?

Can’t you feel the longing? Like Snow, Aurora wants somebody to love. She wants someone to sing a love song to her, and viola, in the next scene, Prince Phillip appears, and they have that adorable romantic moment when they sing “Once Upon a Dream”.

sleeping beauty once upon a dream

In a twist of irony, Aurora is horrified when she later finds out she’s betrothed (not realizing it’s to Phillip, of course) and she’s sad, because she’s worried she’ll lose out on a chance at love with him.

sleeping beauty sad aurora

But despite the mishaps and problems along the way, at the end of the day, Prince Phillip’s the one to wake her with his kiss, and Aurora gets her wish: her prince to sing love songs with forevermore.
One more princess wish accomplished.

 

Disney Renaissance Princesses
Ah, the Disney Renaissance: a time of glory, gorgeous movies, and the best musical numbers in history (in my opinion, anyway). The Disney Renaissance Princesses are some of my absolute favorites, and I’m really excited to talk about them and their songs. For now though, I’ll be handling two of them: Ariel and Belle. You’ll have to come back for the rest next Tuesday. 😉

 

Ariel: Part of Your World

little mermaid 3
Okay, Part of Your World might actually be my favorite “I Want” song of them all. Ariel gets so much undeserving flack, which she shouldn’t, but you can’t deny that her song is amazing.

Ariel’s song is all about adventure; she’s the first adventurous princess, actually, and in “Part of Your World”, she talks about her desire to travel to the human world and explore. People tend to misconstrue Ariel’s desire to go on land as being about Eric, but if you look at the song, it’s really not. It’s about her wanting to experience the things others don’t, and get the freedom she feels she’s lacking under the sea.

The proof is in the lyrics:
Up where they walk, up where they run
Up where they stay all day in the sun
Wanderin’ free – wish I could be
Part of that world

What would I give if I could live out of these waters?
What would I pay to spend a day warm on the sand?

Ariel’s all about adventure and exploring. Love only factors into her deal to stay human, and what’s so awesome to me about Ariel’s tale is that she gets all three of the core wants I mentioned:
1) She gets the adventure she craves on Earth.
2) She gets love in the form of Eric.
3) She gains acceptance from her father, and they finally learn to understand each other a little more.
For that reason, Ariel is probably one of the luckier Disney princesses endings-wise. She gets everything she wanted and more. Pretty awesome, huh?

Finally (for now, anyway), let’s move onto the Disney Princess that is pretty much me: Belle.

 

Belle: Belle (Reprise)

beauty and the beast belle

Belle’s case is really interesting when it comes to her “I Want” song. Unlike most of the princesses, Belle’s “I Want” song is actually a reprise. When you look at the songs, you would think that “Belle” would be her song, considering that it’s her name and all. But in an interesting twist, “Belle,” while it is about our heroine, is actually about how everyone else views Belle and what they want. We get a little bit of Belle in the song, and we get a hint of her wants (“There must be more than this provincial life!”). However, we don’t really dig deep into that. “Belle” is mostly spent with the townspeople musing about Belle’s strangeness, and Gaston musing about how he wants to marry Belle.

beauty and the beast there must be more

And as we find out in the “Belle Reprise”, Belle is not too keen on Gaston’s plans for the future:
“Madame Gaston!”
Can’t you just see it?
“Madame Gaston!”
His “little wife”
No sir! Not me!
I guarantee it
I want much more than this provincial life

Here we bridge into the unique musical twist that Beauty and the Beast provides: Belle’s song is actually the “Belle Reprise.” That’s right, Belle’s “I Want” song is the reprise of the song all about her. Pretty cool twist, huh? And what does Belle want? Well, we find out, when she mentions that awesome line that defines pretty much every Disney Renaissance Princess:

I want adventure in the great wide somewhere,
I want much more than I can bear

beauty and the beast belle reprise

Belle wants adventure. She wants to see the world and get out of the tiny, judgmental little town she lives in. She wants much more than anyone in this town has planned for her, because she knows that she’s worth more. And although she doesn’t get it in the way she expected, Belle gets that adventure when she goes to find her father and meets the Beast. She also finds unexpected love with him.

Alas, unlike Ariel, Belle doesn’t get acceptance from the town, but honestly, she doesn’t really need it. Plus, she has it from the people who really matter: her father, the Beast, and her new friends. She’s also got a handsome prince, the adventure she wanted, and a pretty sweet library. I’d be cool with that deal too if I was her.

beauty and the beast belle's library

Sources:
“I Want” Song. (n.d.). Retrieved December 8, 2014, from TV Tropes: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/IWantSong
Disney Lyrics. (n.d.). Retrieved December 8, 2014, from ST Lyrics: http://www.stlyrics.com/songs/d/disney6472.html

Alright, next week we’ll talk about the rest of the Renaissance Princesses and talk the Post-Renaissance Princesses as well! I’m curious to know: who is your favorite Disney princess, and what is your favorite “I Want” song? Let us know in the comments!

Have a happy Tuesday!

Cheers,
-M&M