Before you read on, let me just clarify a few things. Liking Disney films does not make me sad, uncool or immature. Nor am I one of those girls who believes that her Prince Charming is just around the corner, a fairy godmother is going to pop up on my doorstep, or that all stories have a happy ending. Got it? Great. Now we can continue. If you, like me, grew up in the 90's, I'm sure your childhood was made up of many happy memories watching Disney films on VCR - so many times that the lines, tunes and words of songs are all permanently stamped on your brain. Although the digital age has moved us all on to DVD's and .avi files, there still remains that undeniable sense of enveloping calm and happiness when the titles start to roll, which no other children's film house (is there any other?) provides. Just FYI, I'm talking about the hand-drawn, 2D animation films here - not the live-actions or infinitely inferior 3D's of the more modern films. To me, these later offerings are total sacrilege, and probably would demand a post all to themselves. So, you might ask, what is the point of this post? It is not, as you might expect, to rave on about how much I love Disney (which I do, but that's a bit dull and boring, isn't it.), rather I'd like to share just what I have learned, or gained, from Disney, and I guess to kind of say thanks for that.
1. The Lion King.
Hands up who doesn't like The Lion King. No one? Yeah, that's right. With voices from the likes of Jeremy Irons, Whoopi Goldberg and Rowan Atkinson, and music from Elton John, you'd be forgiven for forgetting that it's actually an adaptation of Hamlet! Yeah! Bet you wish you'd used that in your English GCSE. I mean, now that you know, how could you have missed it: your father's brother kills your dad and sends you away, you return as 'the prodigal son' to see that your uncle has shacked up with your mum and has totally mucked up the kingdom, Pumba and Timone are Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, Raffiki is 'the gravedigger' through which Simba achieves his 'Yorick' moment... Of course, Nala can't exactly be equated with Ophelia - probably because suicide isn't really one for the kids - but you get the gist.
2. Beauty and the Beast.
You know what Beauty and the Beast taught me? That smart girls choose the 'Beast' over the 'Beauty'. Arguably, Belle ended up with the ugliest of the Disney Princes - even after his transformation back into the long-haired, Michael Hutchence lookalike at the end of the movie. But you know what? Prince Charming never built Snow White a library, or had a snowball fight with Cinderella, or took Sleeping Beauty out for dinner and a dance. So the real moral of this movie? Choose the underdog, ladies - you'll have a better time.
Aladdin. The perfect example of how a relationship should not be. Can I just point something out? Aladdin lies. The whole time. He also steals that magic lamp when we've just been shown that he's a known criminal. He's not exactly someone you want dating your daughter, let alone leaving your carefully tended kingdom to. If Aladdin was transposed into modern day, Aladdin would be the hooded drug dealer in the suped-up Suzuki Ibiza you see driving around, asking anything in a skirt "Wot u doin' l8r, sxy?" Nothing. Please go away.
4. The Little Mermaid.
You know what? Sometimes parents know best. I don't know if you saw, but there are plenty of good-looking mermen swimming around Atlantica for Ariel to choose from. But no. She had to fall for the only guy who doesn't accept her for who she really is. If that's not an unhealthy message to send young impressionable girls, I don't know what is. Also, she totally blows off her best friends for some guy she's only met once. I'm not saying that I've not made that mistake once or twice, I just didn't move away and marry the douchebag.
5. Peter Pan.
Guys do not like girls who mother them. Simple as. Wendy needs to learn how to cut loose and get a little crazy. Take a leaf out of Princess Tigerlily's book. You're only young once. Unless you live in NeverNeverLand, in which case - party on.
Sometimes girls make some truly terrible life decisions. I mean, Meg sells her soul to Hades for some twerp she used to date. But I'll finish with this final note: the real hero is not the one who can kill a multi-headed monster, or defeat the Titans, it's the one who will love you despite your indiscretions. Also - keep an eye on the nerdy-looking gangly guys, they usually go pretty far.
What have Disney movies taught you?