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

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

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

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

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

Exploiting or corrupting

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

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

tangled reaction WHAT THE FUCK

Ignoring and neglecting

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

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

Isolating

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

Tomorrow night, lights will appear

Just like they do on my birthday each year

What is it like out there where they glow?

Now that I’m older,

Mother might just

Let me go

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

It’s a scary world out there

Ruffians, thugs

Poison ivy, quicksand

Cannibals and snakes, the plague

tangled pascal

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

tangled fear

Verbally abusing and rejecting

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

tangled gothel bitch 2

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

Rapunzel knows best

Rapunzel’s so mature now

Such a clever grown-up miss

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

tangled gothel bitch

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

Go ahead, get trampled by a rhino

Go ahead, get mugged and left for dead

Me, I’m just your mother, what do I know?

I only bathed and changed and nursed you

Go ahead and leave me, I deserve it

Let me die alone here, be my guest

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

Ridiculing:

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

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

tangled candle symbolism

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

tangled picture bbys

it's kind of cute castle reaction

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

tangled truthtangled truth 2

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

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

standing ovation reaction

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

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

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

Terrorizing

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

tangled you were my new dream

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

tangled hug

Work Cited:

American Humane Association. (n.d.). Emotional Abuse. Retrieved April 6, 2015, from American Humane Association: http://www.americanhumane.org/children/stop-child-abuse/fact-sheets/emotional-abuse.html

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

Follow Animated Meta on Tumblr and Twitter. Have a splendid Tuesday!

Cheers,

M&M

 

Response: How Disney Stereotypes Hurt Men

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On Thursday, Laci Green and MTV put out a video called How Disney Stereotypes Hurt Men. Unsurprisingly Mel and I had a lot of thoughts and decided to write a response. Watch the video below and then read our thoughts on body type in animation, physically empowered women, the way masculinity is presented in the princes and villains, and men fighting over women.


Body Types in Animation

One of the biggest and most obvious gripes about animation is the way people are drawn. Laci points this out very aptly when she says all the men are drawn the same. They’re big, tall, muscular, and generally white, as the video says. This is true. Men are pressured the same way women are to look a certain way. Men are encouraged to be physically fit, have six packs, and be big strong men.

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However, women in animation are not drawn any better. Women often times have a tiny waist, a decent chest, and huge wide eyes. Hell, recent Disney films have faced criticism for having Rapunzel, Elsa, and Anna drawn with the exact same face.

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This is a problem that goes both ways. Animated characters enforce gender stereotypes and uphold unattainable standards of beauty.

Disney and other animation houses need to recognize they are not drawing actual human beings. But this is also a problem that extends outside of animation to Hollywood and the media as a whole. Actors and actresses face extreme levels of pressure and then are ridiculed when they cave and get plastic surgery. It even extends to normal people that are not in the public eye. Eating disorders and low self-esteem are real life consequences that have wide reaching effects.

Now, Disney also draws its villains and heroes a certain way. While princes and princesses are both extraordinarily beautiful, Laci makes another point about men that are not everything a prince should be according to the standards of animation: “Men who aren’t tall and muscular are often portrayed as outcasts or subservient and weak.” I agree and disagree.

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Let me explain.

Men that do not look like a prince are treated differently, but the only one I can think of that is an outcast for it is Quasi in Hunchback. But the point of that film is that it is wrong to discriminate based on how people look. Frollo emotionally abuses Quasi and even tried to murder him as a baby. Quasi is the hero of the film despite not looking or being a prince and his film sends the message it is wrong to mistreat him because he looks different.

Another character that is an outcast in their film is Hercules. Hercules is super strong and tall and an awkward teenager. He hasn’t yet developed his muscles, which he does by training and actually working hard. But he does have this gifted insane amount of strength from childhood and is ostracized for it.

Often times, men that don’t fit the “big, tall, muscular” mold are actually villains. Look at Lawrence in Princess and the Frog. He wants power and is jealous of Naveen and so throws his lot in with Dr. Facilier. Lawrence, physically, is a short, plump, balding dude. He is one of the villains of the film. He’s not handsome in the conventional sense. The Huntsman in Snow White, who we are supposed to fear, is a big, also plump dude. He has a big nose and a scary, angry face. Smee, Hook’s right hand man, looks a lot like Lawrence. Cruella’s henchmen also have the big noses, while one is plump and short and the other skinny and tall. The Butler in Aristocats also doesn’t fit the prince mold. My point here is, these men don’t become outcasts. They are villains.

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An exception to this is Jasmine’s dad. He is drawn similarly to Lawrence (rather, Lawrence is drawn similar to him) and is kinda/sorta/not really a villain, but he is standing in the way of Jasmine being able to make her own choices. However, he is not the antagonist of the film and is ultimately a figure we sympathize with. He’s blinded by tradition and only wants Jasmine to be provided for once he dies. Jasmine could probably provide for herself quite fine, as could all women, if not held back by this archaic way of thinking. The sultan is a powerful figure though small in stature. He does not fit the prince mold, despite have been one before he became sultan.

Generally, though, beauty is equated with goodness, while villains are the opposite.

The same can be said for female villains. Ursula isn’t supermodel skinny and when she turns herself into Vanessa to tempt Eric, she has a totally different body type. Lady Medusa in The Rescuers has saggy boobs and buckteeth and looks certifiably insane. So do Cruella and Yzma. Disney is totally guilty of the way it draws its characters and the messages it sends. But this damage goes both ways.

Prince = “Savior”

As the video progresses, Laci tells us that princesses need saving and a prince has to be there do it. While this seems true at first glance, it’s not really so. The older films, Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, etc are definitely guilty of this. But Disney has evolved from those films.

Let’s start with The Little Mermaid, the beginning of the Disney Renaissance. Ariel saves Eric from drowning the very first time they meet. He would have died during the storm. But Ariel was there and she grabbed him and carried him to safety. But it does not end there. When Ariel finds out Eric is about to marry Ursula in disguise, she jumps into action. Literally.

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She can’t swim and relies on her friends to save her. I love The Little Mermaid for this reason. Everyone depends on each other. Ariel saves Eric, Eric saves Ariel, Ariel saves Flounder (the shark sequence in the opening), Flounder and Sebastian save Ariel (Sebastian cuts the barrels loose and Flounder tows her), etc. No one is the hero all the time. Everyone needs help.

little mermaid i hope you appreciate what i go through for you

Anyway, back to Ariel saving Eric. She’s not about to let Eric get trapped in a fake marriage. Sebastian and Scuttle do a lot of the legwork for that scene, but Ariel’s presence matters, too. Saving does not always have to be literal. We’ll return to that notion later. Let’s stay with TLM a bit longer.

When Ursula captures Ariel and takes her home, Eric stops Ursula from hurting Ariel after Ariel protected her father. The Little Mermaid is very cyclical, as I mentioned, and it plays itself that way to the end of the film. Ariel evades Ursula in the whirlpool of doom and Eric is able to spear her with his ship. But the film does not end with Eric saving the day. The film ends when Ariel and her father finally find common ground. They reach an understanding. It’s not about Eric saving the day because everyone in The Little Mermaid has saved someone else at some point. It’s about Ariel—the little mermaid—and her relationship with her father. Triton gives Ariel legs and the Part of Your World reprise plays. Part of Your World was the moment the plot really kicked off, when we knew Ariel was going to go for what she wanted. She has her father’s blessing now; all is well between them. The final line of the film is “I love you, daddy,” emphasizing this.

little mermaid i love you, daddy

Another example where Disney bashes the notion of a prince having to save the day and the princess being useless is Mulan. To me, every female character in Disney is a princess. I know that’s technically untrue since Esmeralda’s not, etc, but to me they are. So I’m going to talk about Mulan now. Mulan, as I’ve talked about in other metas, is an amazing movie steeped in gender roles and seeks to overcome that beautifully.

Mulan totally saves herself and all of China and also her boyfriend.

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After Mulan confronts the Huns and shoots her arrow into the mountains to create an avalanche, Shang gets caught in the disaster. Mulan saves him from going off a cliff all while injured, herself! At the end of the film, when she fights Shan-Yu, she fights him as a woman. The gender roles are even emphasized more when Mulan has her friends dress as women to break into the palace because they would not be seen as a legitimate threat that way. The guards instead were interested if they could get some action. Disney throws that right in our faces! Disney is straight up showing us the gender roles, that women are weak and submissive and men won’t take them seriously.

And then badass Mulan goes and fights the leader of the Huns. She’s not pretending to be a man. She’s wearing feminine clothes. She’s herself. She even uses a fan to defeat Shan-Yu, something seen in Asian culture as a feminine practice. Disney subverts every single gender role and challenges them in Mulan. Mulan wins. She beats him. And again, the focus of the film is not on the romance. Mulan goes home to see her family and her dad. She makes peace with them before she essentially gets Shang as a “prize.” Eric and Shang are just bonuses in Ariel and Mulan’s stories. The men don’t win anyone.

Tangled also has the princess saving the prince—err, Flynn. She heals him at the end of the film, even though he is the one that came to rescue her. She saves him, literally. But now I want to look at the ways Disney has their female heroes saving men in not so obvious ways. The best example of this is Pocahontas. John Smith is a pretty arrogant guy when he meets Pocahontas. And it is through her that he becomes a better person. She teaches him about the importance of the land and also that judging people and fearing them is wrong. She changes his total world view. Colors of the Wind is the turning point. She challenges his assumptions that the English way is the best one, the “civilized” way. She does not overtly go charging into battle wielding a weapon, but she saves him nonetheless. She left a mark on him.

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Okay, so we covered the fact that princesses frequently save their princesses and saving does not always have to be so black and white. I also want to talk about physically empowered women that Disney has given us. These ladies aren’t necessarily saving anyone, maybe they’re protecting themselves, just surviving, or playing.

Esmeralda is always the first person I think of because of her epic escape scene after she protects Quasi. She counts how many guards there are and does the amazing, “10 of you and only 1 of me. What’s a poor girl to do?” And then POOF, she is gone! But, wait, there she is! And now watch her outsmart all of you. Then she meets Phoebus officially in Notre Dame has no qualms about fighting her future hubby with a candlestick. She’s smart, she’s sassy, and she knows how to fight. Esmeralda is a boss, okay.

I think I’ve already covered how perfect Mulan and Ariel are.

Nala always pawns Simba in a fight.

Jasmine is a fast learner, jumping over rooftops like she’s been doing it her whole life.

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Disney has plenty of physically empowered women. It’s not all about the prince saving the day. In fact, it hasn’t really been about the prince saving anyone since the early Disney films. In Beauty and the Beast, the Beast needs Belle to save him from his curse. Aladdin beats Jafar at the end of the film, but Jasmine’s words are “I choose you, Aladdin.”

Men Fighting for Women and Domineering, Masculine Men

Laci mentions at one point how many Disney movies have a battle between two guys, with the winner winning pride, respect and a woman. Now I can see where people would see male antagonist vs. male hero and think the fight is about a woman, but in most cases, it’s really not. Even in cases where we have a possessive villain (Gaston, Jafar) who wants the princess for himself, the fight itself is more about power than it is about the woman at hand. We do have one fight that’s sort of about a woman in Hercules, between Hercules and Hades, and Hercules does get pride/respect/becomes a god. HOWEVER, that means losing out on Meg, because he can’t be with her if he’s not mortal, and Hercules gives up that pride and power for a chance to be with the woman he loves. On the flip side, Aladdin believes he can’t be with Jasmine without wealth and status, but she doesn’t care about that and chooses him after he sets the genie free instead of wishing to be a prince again.

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Disney proves to us time and time again that love is so much greater than status or power by showing us antagonists so consumed with getting that power and status that it destroys them. Gaston dies when he stabs the Beast after the Beast saves his life instead of just moving on with his life like a normal person. Jafar gets trapped in the lamp because he’s so obsessed with power that he doesn’t realize power always comes with a price. Hades underestimates Hercules’ strength and power, and more importantly, his love for Meg, which ends up screwing him over.

I also find the assumption that women are viewed as prizes to be won to be offensive, because they’re really not.

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A lot of these Disney movies are female-led, and if anything, the prince is their bonus prize achieved in the midst of their goal, mainly because princess/prince connect and share some commonality. (Ex: Aladdin and Jasmine, who both wish that the world would see them for who they really are, and feel trapped by everyone’s expectations and opinions.)

Jasmine actually has this really amazing quote that I love: “I am not a prize to be won.” These ladies do not put up with men who view them as prizes or commodities. Jasmine side-eyes Jafar and her rich suitors who are after the money/status that comes with marrying the Sultan’s daughter, and even side-eyes Aladdin for a while there when he’s pretending to be Prince Ali, because he’s acting like all of the idiots she’s dealt with before. It’s only when he shows her who he really is that she starts to respect him. Another great example: Belle and Gaston. Gaston is domineering and pushy and tries to harass Belle into dating him, because he feels as though he deserves her, and Belle rejects him time and time again, because his lack of respect for her and her boundaries means she has zero respect for him in return. She also doesn’t fall in love with the Beast until the Beast gets his shit together and starts treating her with the respect and kindness she deserves, and makes an effort to change his ways.

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At one point, Laci mentions that Disney tries to show us that “domination is central to being a real man” which I respectfully disagree with. Does Disney have men who are dominating and aggressive? Yes, they definitely do. But, those men are not the princes/heroes that the ladies in the Disney world fall for. In fact, the domineering aggressive dudes in Disney are often the antagonists. Radcliffe, Gaston, Jafar, Scar, Frollo: these are all dudes that feel entitled to women and power and status.

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And these aggressive entitled dudes are the ones that end up alone, imprisoned or dead at the end. They’re not rewarded for being domineering or aggressive: they’re punished for it.

Meanwhile, most of our Disney heroes, the ones that end up with the girl at the end, are guys who are respectful toward women. They don’t treat women as prizes; they aren’t aggressive toward them or make them feel uncomfortable. They listen. They respect their feelings. They fight for them, and their women fight for them, and what we end up with are these wonderful, equal relationships that set a great example for women.

Passive Women/Gender Roles

Okay, so I love tearing apart gender roles as much as anyone, and while Disney does leave me unsatisfied in some regards, I really don’t think gender roles is a big issue for them. Passive/domesticated women and active/aggressive men are not how Disney relationships tend to balance out on-screen.

First of all, while I agree with Laci about the earlier Pre-Renaissance films (Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty), I strongly disagree that the women in the Renaissance era and beyond are portrayed as passive. They don’t need men to save them. They aren’t sitting around in their castle waiting for a man to pop up and complete them. No, these princesses are out following their dreams, and if they happen to find the man of their dreams along the way, awesome.

The Renaissance (and beyond) Princesses have way more to do.

Ariel seems to get the most flack, so I’ll start with her. Ariel is our first princess who is incredibly active and adventurous and progressive. She’s the one who sets the entire plot into motion. She saves Eric from drowning. She battles sharks. She’s the one who goes to Ursula for the deal so she can explore land (which she’s always wanted to do) and also meet Eric. Notice how Eric is the straw that broke the camel’s back here. Ariel always wanted to go to land. (Remember “Part of Your World?” That takes place before Ariel even meets Eric.) Even when Ariel’s voiceless on land, she’s still the one initiating the relationship. She doesn’t sit around and hope Eric realizes she’s awesome: she’s actively hanging out with Eric and uses her body language and personality to show him that she’s into him. Like Mic mentioned, we get this wonderful relationship balance between the two of them, where Eric saves Ariel in return. She saves him, he saves her – it’s all balanced out.

But it isn’t just Ariel. The Disney Princess films revolve around the princesses, and thus we get women who actively go out and pursue their dreams. Disney does explore gender roles, but does something truly revolutionary. It sets our heroines in a world with so many biases and expectations for them, and then they proceed to break through those roles and debunk them entirely. Mulan runs off to join the army to bring honor to her family and break free of the gender roles confining her. Belle wants much more than her provincial life and definitely doesn’t want to be “Madam Gaston, his little wife” so she rejects the expectations fostered on her and finds that adventure she was looking for.

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Pocahontas doesn’t settle for the smoothest course, and ends up uniting her tribe and the settlers. Tiana fights her way to her happy ending and her dream to open that restaurant, ignoring the naysayers. Jasmine says “screw the law” and finds the true love and the freedom she wanted with Aladdin, and then ends up getting her dad to nix the laws that restrain her, which gives her the agency she’s desired. Rapunzel is just awesome, and takes charge of her destiny when she makes that deal with Flynn, and grows into herself and sees the lights and finds a new dream in him.

Also, men aren’t always the ones chasing the women. Most of these women are chasing those guys right back.

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There’s so much mutual attraction and respect built into Disney relationships, where both sides pursue each other and take things at their own pace. A lot of the relationships build up over time as the movie goes on, and the characters get to know one another. Respect and trust is fostered throughout, which leads to love.

As times change and grow, our heroines grow with them, and become more revolutionary and break through more and more gender walls. Even the men do this.

We often forget that in the majority of these Disney films, we have a female lead, and thus the prince/love interest supplements the movie. In the past, this meant we got love interests like Prince Charming and Snow White’s prince, who weren’t as developed and were more confined to gender roles. They didn’t get as much of a role in the movies: they just appeared to save the princess. But as time has gone by, Disney has built up the love interests, giving them their own character arcs and roles and strong personalities that contrast and blend with the princesses in a wonderful way that ends up resulting in some great, balanced relationships. We don’t just get a prince saving a princess. Both sides save each other and look out for each other, because they care for and respect one another. A great example of this would be Flynn and Rapunzel, who both share character arcs and have their own quests and goals. They each save one another from danger, and are assets to each other in a great way.

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I talked a lot about gender roles for guys already, but there are a few more things I want to add. The Disney guys don’t tend to conform to gender roles, unless they’re villains and represent a hyper masculinity that’s very harmful. Most of our Disney dudes are not aggressive or domineering, or even stoic and cold. In fact, we get as much emotional expression from the dudes as we do from the ladies, which is pretty equal and awesome to me. Guys in Disney movies are not afraid to talk about their feelings, or love, or admit if they messed up, or even cry and feel sad or angry. They don’t hold back their emotions, and when they do, or when they try and be something they’re not, it usually ends badly for them. Examples:

  • Hercules: No one likes me. I don’t think I belong here. Something is wrong with me. WHERE DO I BELONG?
  • Aladdin: I AM NOT A STREET RAT. I’m pretty awesome, just give me a chance. I want Jasmine to love me. She’s so pretty and smart. *makes heart eyes*
  • Beast: is just a mess, okay? He’s all NO ONE WILL LOVE ME. I AM DOOMED.
  • Tarzan: Who am I? Why do they look like me? Am I supposed to be like them? WHO ARE THESE STRANGERS?
  • Kuzco: HELP I’M A LLAMA! I don’t want to be a llama. Llamas are lame. I want to be a badass rich emperor dude.
  • Naveen: I NEED MONEYYYYYYY. And women. And my status. Oh, Tiana, hiii. I ‘m gonna make you dinner and gaze up at the stars with you.
  • Flynn: Be cool, dude. I’m actually a wounded orphan on the inside pretending to be a swashbuckling rogue. Let me tell Rapunzel my whole life story. *heart eyes*
  • Eric: I want to marry the girl of my dreams. It’ll hit me, LIKE LIGHTNING. Or my ship exploding and sending me straight into her arms. Let me just stare at the water all moody and play my flute until she shows up. WHAT IS LOVE? IT IS HER. Alas!
  • Phoebus: I love my horse. Like, I really love my horse. We have a bromance. Also, I’m a soldier that follows my heart, not orders. I won’t burn down innocent people’s homes.
  • Yao, Ling, Ping: WE WANT LOVE TO SUSTAIN US WHILE WE GO OFF TO WAR.

I also disagree that Disney men are portrayed as being dopey/incompetent, because our heroes are not, and our villains definitely are not (since most of them are creepily savvy). I think some of the older men in Disney (Maurice, the Sultan, Prince Charming’s dad) fall prey to this trope, mainly through how they’re viewed by other characters. Maurice is written off as a crackpot/crazy by half the town, when he’s actually a pretty brilliant guy despite his absent-minded nature. Charming’s dad and the Sultan are both a little childish and silly, but they prove that they’re worthy kings to lead their land, and have a good head on their shoulders. So I don’t think the dopey thing has much merit, to be honest. Even in the earlier films, most of the guys aren’t portrayed that way, and as time goes on, it comes up less and less.

Conclusion: For the Most Part, Disney Stereotypes Aren’t Affecting Men Adversely

While the physical appearance of both Disney princesses and princes is a negative issue that needs some reworking, since it sets up unrealistic body standards, for the most part, Disney Stereotypes don’t seem to be hurting men too badly. Disney breaks away from the typical norm of gender roles for men by having its male leads be open with their emotions and letting them break out of the typical “knight in shining armor” role.

They also portray more domineering, aggressive men as a negative thing, as most of these men in Disney movies happen to be the antagonists. Disney stereotypes don’t seem to hurt women too badly either: instead of the more passive damsels of the past, Disney’s female leads are active, determined, and generally awesome role models. They initiate their plots and don’t wait around for a guy to save them; they save themselves. They don’t put up with men who don’t respect them or treat them like trophies.

The relationships they end up in are equally balanced and filled with respect and love on both sides of the equation. While Disney fails in some aspects, it definitely does not in regards to gender roles and its portrayal of their later princesses and princes. Instead, Disney challenges gender roles and allows both its female and male characters to break free from them in a way that is wonderfully creative and sets a great example for children.

Do do you think Disney Stereotypes hurt men? Are Disney princesses just damsels in distress that need men to come save them? Do you think body images in animation is a problem?

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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?

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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.

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“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)

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“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.

tangled light 1tangled light 3

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.

You can follow Animated Meta on Tumblr and Twitter! I hope you guys have a lovely Tuesday!

Cheers!

M&M

Disney Villain Songs: Part Two

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

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

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

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

hercules alone no one can hurt you

Meg is, too!

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

hercules punch hades

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

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

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

mulan reflection

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

mulan fuck you mulan reaction

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

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

tarzan man

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

tarzan and jane swinging

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

lilo and stich hands

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

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

frozen strugglebus reaction

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

Now, onto the films that DO have Villain Songs!

Hellfire

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

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

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

peter pan no me gusta reaction

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

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

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

hunchback me or the fire

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

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

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

hunchback frollo witchcraft

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

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

hunchback hellfire, dark fire

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

Snuff out the Light

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

follow your dreams reactiong

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

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

really?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

little mermaid the human world is a mess

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

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

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

Friends on the Other Side

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

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

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

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

princess and the frog reaction i will end you

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

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

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

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

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

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

little mermaid ursula lips

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

Mother Knows Best

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

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

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

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

She makes Rapunzel fear her own supposed inability.

tangled fear

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

Mother’s right here
Mother will protect you

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

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

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

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

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

tangled gothel

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

Gothel tries to use the same tactics here:

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

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

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

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

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

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

mine reaction

Conclusion

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

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

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Cheers,
-M&M!

Disney Princess “I Want” Songs: Part 2

Standard

Welcome back to part 2 of my Disney Princess I Want Songs meta! (Be sure to check out Part 1 if you haven’t already.) Today, we’re tackling the rest of the Renaissance era princesses (Jasmine, Pocahontas and Mulan), and then we’re onto the Post-Renaissance (Tiana, Rapunzel and Anna). So let’s get started!

Jasmine: Jasmine’s Song…Uh…About That…

aladdin jasmine
Okay, so Jasmine is a weird case, because she doesn’t quite have an “I Want” song. In the Broadway musical, she has this gorgeous song called “These Palace Walls” that sums up her wants so well, but this is Animated Meta and we’re talking about the animated movies, so that’s off limits.

So sadly, Jasmine has no I Want Song. But she does have an I Got What I Wanted song. Confused? Let me explain.

Despite not having an I Want Song, there is a nice little scene between Jasmine and the Sultan where she tells us exactly what she wants out of life. The Sulan wants her to marry, and reminds her that there’s three days until her next birthday, by which time she needs to announce a suitor. Jasmine’s not thrilled with that.

“I hate being forced into this,” she says firmly, and then: “If I do marry, I want it to be for love.”

aladdin i want it to be for love

The Sultan’s also worried about her being alone. He wants her to be “taken care of,” but Jasmine points out that she’s never had a chance to take care of herself, and it’s clear that she resents the fact that she’s been so sheltered all these years. (“I’ve never had any real friends…I’ve never even been outside the palace walls!”)

Here, we have Jasmine’s core want laid out: she wants more independence. Because her father has tried to protect her, Jasmine has never really been given the chance to decide anything for herself. She’s never been able to go out beyond the palaces walls and see the kingdom. She hasn’t made any real friends (well, any human friends; she has Raja). And she doesn’t want to marry just because some law tells her to. Like many of us, she wants to find someone she loves and settle down with them. And she wants to do that on her own time, not on some insane three day time limit. So obviously, she’s not super happy with her dad.

aladdin done w your shit

And that’s where “A Whole New World” comes in.

aladdin a whole new world

Unlike most of the princesses, Jasmine’s song is an I Got What I Wanted song. By this time, she’s achieved many of her core wants. She snuck out of the palace and got to see outside the palace walls. She met a cute guy (Aladdin) who she connected with in a way that she hasn’t with the suitors her father threw her way. And of course, in “A Whole New World,” we have Aladdin offering her something else she wants: a chance to see the world.

“I can show you the world; shining, shimmering, splendid,” he promises her: “No one to tell us no or where to go, or say we’re only dreaming.”

aladdin flower

Which is exactly what Jasmine wants: Aladdin gives her the independence she craves, because he understands her desires? She wants to see the world? Well, he’ll hop in his carpet and show her. And Jasmine appreciates that:

Unbelievable sights, indescribable feelings,
Soaring, tumbling, free-wheeling, through an endless diamond sky
A whole new world, a hundred thousand things to see,
I’m like a shooting star; I’ve come so far
I can’t go back to where I used to be

Aladdin opens up a whole new world of possibilities for Jasmine. He opens up opportunities and choices that she never thought possible, and in the end, he’s what inspires her to reach for what she wants. And in turn, she helps him achieve what he wants as well. Now that’s what I call an equal partnership.

Pocahontas: Just Around the Riverbend

pocahontas riverbend rainbow

I already talked a lot about “Just Around the Riverbend” in my Pocahontas and Spirituality post a few weeks back, so some of this might seem repetitive. But here we go anyway:

Pocahontas’ want is actually kind of vague, to be honest. What she wants is “something more.” She actually isn’t sure what specifically she wants, but she knows that the path her father has put her on isn’t what she wants, and that she could aspire to so much more:

Can I ignore that sound of distant drumming
For a handsome sturdy husband who builds handsome, sturdy walls
And never dreams that something might be coming
Just around the river bend?

“Just Around the Riverbend” is all about internal conflict. Pocahontas is deciding whether she’d rather choose the smoothest course or find out what’s waiting for her just around the river bend. Like Grandmother Willow tells her, the right path is not always the easiest one, so it makes sense that Pocahontas would antagonize over whether it’s better to follow the path she knows or take a risk and travel down one less known.

pocahontas kocoum riverbend
But Pocahontas has always been an adventurer, and she’s never been one to ignore her heart, so when she picks the rougher path at the end of the song, we know she’s on the right track. And sure enough, choosing to follow her heart and find what’s around the river bend leads Pocahontas to John Smith. Although their tale ends bittersweet, Pocahontas doesn’t regret the path she chose, because in listening to her heart and taking the path less traveled, she brings together her tribe and the settlers, and finally comes into herself as the future leader she is destined to be.

pocahontas choosing another course

Mulan: Reflection

mulan

Ah, Fa Mulan. I love Mulan so much, guys. I could ramble about her forever. But I’ll just stick to this gorgeous I Want song of hers. Unlike many of our princesses, Mulan isn’t seeking adventure or romance: she’s seeking acceptance from the people she loves. “Reflection” is all about identity and acceptance. Mulan wants her family to accept her for who she is inside, and wars with the fact that who she is goes at odds with what society (and her family) expect from her:

Now I see that if I were truly to be myself,
I would break my family’s heart

Mulan is not ladylike or elegant, and that’s what messes with her chances with the Matchmaker.

It also makes her feel inadequate, because the role society puts on her demands that she be one way, while she is another. She tries to hide it, but can’t, and it tears her apart:

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

mulan reflection

The animation sequence that goes with “Reflection” is so brilliant, because we see Mulan dismantling parts of her appearance (removing the make-up, taking her hair out of its bun). She’s at war with who she is, and she’s uncomfortable with whom she is as well. You can see it in the way that she stares at her reflection, and how she tugs at her hair nervously when she sits by the tree at the end of the song.

mulan reflection end

In the end, Mulan does get to show who she is inside. Her inner warrior comes out when she takes her father’s place, and she shows her family – as well as all of China – just who she is inside. And best of all, she gets the acceptance she wanted all along. Pretty happy ending, in my opinion. (Plus, she gets Shang, who’s pretty awesome as well.)

Okay, onto the post-Renaissance!

Post-Renaissance Princesses
For the purpose of this post, the Post-Renaissance princesses are the one who came after the glorious Disney Renaissance. So here, three princesses apply: Tiana, Rapunzel, and Anna. (Remember: no Elsa, because she’s a queen. ;))

So let’s get this Post-Renaissance party started by talking about Tiana and her want.

Tiana: Almost There

princess and the frog almost there

Similar to Jasmine, Tiana’s “I Want” song is a strange case, because while it is what she wants, she’s also very close to achieving it, so it’s almost an “I’ve Almost Achieved my Want” song. (Which I guess is why it’s called “Almost There.”)

One of the things I love about Tiana is that like Cinderella, Tiana has a strong work ethic. She believes in her dreams, but knows that she can only make them come true if she works at them. Tiana isn’t royalty: she doesn’t have the world on a platter the way some of our princesses do. But she’s determined to work hard and be ambitious and reach for what she wants: that restaurant in New Orleans. Out of anyone, Tiana’s dreams are the most clear-cut, and thus, in order to make them harder to achieve, the movie throws her life off course. The men she wanted the shop from refuse to let her get it. She gets turned into a frog for the majority of the movie. And by the end, she’s almost lost hope of every becoming normal again.

But Tiana gets there. She gets the shop, she winds up with the romance that will make her mother happy (I want some grandkids!), and as we catch a glimpse of her in her shop at the end, we know she’s finally there. Mission accomplished, all through hard work and dedication.

Rapunzel: When Will My Life Begin?

tangled rapunzel
Okay, so I’ll admit it: I love this song so much. As much as I will forever be sad that Disney seems to be straying away from 2D animation with their Princess movies, Tangled is really a glorious movie. And Rapunzel’s I Want Song, “When Will My Life Begin?” is sweet and wonderful.

Rapunzel’s want is easy to decipher: like so many Disney princesses before her, Rapunzel wants to know when her life will begin: aka, when will she finally get out of this tower and get to see something new? Now, unlike many of our lonely bored princesses, Rapunzel’s actually invented some great ways to distract herself. She knits, she bakes, she makes pottery, she paints…the girl has many hobbies, and I think she’s actually got the most hobbies of any princess ever. But alas, hobbies cannot stop a girl from wondering what’s outside when you’re stuck living in a tower with only a verbally abusive mother to keep you company, so Rapunzel wonders about what’s out there. Unlike most of the princesses, who have less specific wants, Rapunzel’s got one thing in particular she wants to see:

And tomorrow night, the lights will appear
Just like they do, on my birthday every year
What is it like out there where they glow?

Rapunzel wants to see the lights and find out what all the fuss is about. And guess what? She does, thanks to Flynn. Interestingly enough, once Rapunzel sees the lights, she has a second Want appear: Flynn. One of the things I found really cool about Tangled was that the characters have multiple Wants. Wants change as they’re achieved, or as the characters grow and realize what they wanted are different than they first thought. And I think that’s very true to life, isn’t it? As we achieve goals, we want new things. Lucky for Rapunzel, she gets both wants achieved, and better yet, she finds the family she never knew was out there, waiting for her. Wants fulfilled, bonus achieved. Happily ever after.

tangled hug

Anna: For the First Time in Forever

frozen blank anna copy

Okay, so I’ll admit it, I’m not a huge fan of Frozen. But Anna’s I Want song is clearly defined in a great way, and Anna is my spirit animal, so I’m happy to talk about her.

Now, Anna’s an interesting case, because she technically has two I Want songs: “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?” and “For the First Time in Forever”. “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?” is set up as her past Want: it’s all about her desire to reconnect with Elsa. Anna doesn’t understand why her big sister has abandoned her, and “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?” is spent with Anna outside Elsa’s door at varying times of her life, trying to get her sister to come play with her. Obviously, we the viewer understand why Elsa doesn’t want to hang out with Anna, but Anna doesn’t. Her pleas to Elsa go from peppy to semi-hopeful to that final resigned lines of the song, where it’s clear she’s on her last limb with Elsa:

We only have each other,

It’s just you and me

What are we going to do?

Do you want to build a snowman?

frozen do you wanna build a snowman gif

When that fails, and Elsa still doesn’t open the door, Anna’s priorities change. Understandably, after years and years of trying to connect with her, Anna is done trying. And so, her wants change. That’s where “For the First Time in Forever” comes in.

frozen for the first time in forever gif

In “For the First Time in Forever”, Anna’s wants are set up easily. She’s pretty blunt about her wants (a nice change from some off the vaguer I Want songs), and what she wants is this:

For the first time in forever, there’ll be magic, there’ll be fun
For the first time in forever, I could be noticed by someone
And I know it is totally crazy to dream I’d find romance
But for the first time in forever, at least I’ve got a chance

Does she get all of these things? Yes, but not exactly the way she expected.

When Hans appears at the end of “For the First Time in Forever,” we fully expect him to fulfill Anna’s expectations. After all, they have their Meet Cute moment (when she stumbles into the boat and he saves her from going overboard), and she gets flustered, and he’s smiling, and cuteness ensues. Then he reappears at the ball, they share their cute little duet (“Love is an Open Door”, which becomes a lot less cute when you realize that Hans is really a scheming schemer), and he proposes. They share a magical night, he notices her, they have fun together…everything Anna wanted fulfilled in a flash, right?

frozen gorgeous wait what

Not quite. See, Hans ends up being evil, which means that Anna got out of meeting him is kind of a lie. He uses her feelings for him and her desire to be noticed against her to manipulate her, so that he can rule Arendelle. Not exactly the romance a girl desires.

However, there is one bright side to all of this: Anna does get what she wanted, from the other people in her life. She gets some magic (in the form of Elsa’s cool ice magic). She gets noticed by two very important people: her sister, who she’s wanted to rekindle a bond with forever (ties back to the song title nicely, huh?) and Kristoff, who winds up giving her the romance she wanted. She also has some fun on her journey. Granted, there are snow monsters and accidental ice shards in her heart and feels, but some of it is fun. (Especially the parts that involve Olaf.)

So in the end, Anna gets what she wanted. She gets the magic, she gets noticed, she gets the romance, and she has some fun. The ending of the movie is a great example of this, when we see her, Elsa and everyone else in the town ice-skating. Finally, Anna’s gotten a chance to live the life she always wanted, and better yet, the people who truly love and care about her are by her side.
I’d say that’s a happy-ever-after for her.

Notes: I had a lot of fun writing this post! Mic and I are actually considering tackling some of the other types of Disney songs at a later point. What do you guys think? Would you like to hear more about the music? Let us know in the comments!

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Have a great Tuesday!
Cheers,
-M&M