Who do you love? Part 1

A few months ago at work, I was having a discussion with a coworker who also likes Disney-related things, and he asked me a question that I never got the chance to answer.

He asked me what my favorite Disney movie is.  Well, that was an easy one: The Lion King.  I’ve always loved that movie, and I saw when it came out and bought the VHS in the olden days the day it arrived in stores.  And I know practically the entire script.  It’s an awesome story with hints of Shakespeare mixed with humor and heart.  Yeah, definitely my fave.

But that wasn’t the question I never answered.  He asked, “Who is your favorite Disney character?”

Wow, I never thought about that.  It’s a tough question.  With so many Disney characters over the years, female, male, protagonists, antagonists, main or supporting, Disney or Pixar, it’s a very difficult question.  Well, maybe we can come up with something…

I’m a bit of a feminist.  So it’ll be pretty easy to knock out a BUNCH of characters.  Think back to a good chunk of the female protagonists/”princesses” of the early Disney movies: Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White.  There is something that seriously bothers me about these women, being a feminist who supports strong women.  What do these women actually do for themselves?  Cinderella has her fairy godmother, Princess Aurora (Sleeping Beauty) has her fairy godmothers, and Snow White has the dwarves and the prince, and even the guy who was supposed to kill her spares her life.  What do these women do for themselves?  In my opinion, not much of anything, really.  These movies are beautifully written, directed, and artistically designed, but the protagonists leave a lot to be desired for me.

Let’s fast forward to the ‘80s and ‘90s.  A HUGE step up for women.  We have The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and Mulan.  But I still have a bit of a beef with these “princesses.”  What does Ariel do, really?  She’s very forward-thinking, wanting to follow her dreams and actually going against her father for her own exploration.  It’s not really a Pandora’s box curiosity that ends in disaster (exactly); she just sells her soul (ok, her voice, but same idea) to someone evil.  But she pays the price.  She’s redeeming, but she has issues.  Belle is pretty awesome.  She’s obviously smart, she really cares about her father, and we get to witness a Pride and Prejudice sort of romance.  It’s really fun to watch.  But, in the end, does she win the battle?  My answer: Eh.  The power of love is a great idea, but I always like to see something a little more interesting as well.  She doesn’t really defeat Gaston, although she does help to save the beast by trying to change the ideas of the townspeople.  So she’s pretty close.  She can stay.

Now Mulan.  Ok, I don’t have really anything to say.  She’s strong, she’s intelligent, I can associate with not fitting in, and she does the unthinkable: Joining the army.  Women shouldn’t do that!  Yeah.  Mulan’s pretty awesome.  Here’s the problem that kind of annoys me about her Disney association: To tie in with so many other “heroines” of Disney, she has been categorized as a Disney princess.

Recap the movie.  When does she become a princess?  Never, as far as I can remember.  Confusion?  I think so.  She’s not a princess.  Oh well.  But Mulan can stay in the favorites category.  However, there is still one huge issue that I have:  In the end, she still has a man, a man that insulted her a great deal.  Did she forgive him?  Yes, and that is TRUE greatness.  But should they have fell in love?  I’m not sure.  I’ll leave that to your judgment, though it seems slightly convoluted to me.  The ending with their romance didn’t seem necessary to me.

In my next post, I’ll continue with the Disney female protagonists of the 2000s.  See you in a few days!