Disney movies were a key part of my childhood, like that of many children. I spent hours watching, singing along and playing pretend with friends and family about the worlds of the movies. As a parent, I’m now watching them with different eyes than my five/six year old self. More knowing, more judgemental – and definitely a whole lot less dismissive of some of the issues they bring up. So, here goes, an analysis of the Disney Movies I once loved, but now through my adult eyes.
Where to begin?
The Lion King
Otherwise known as the film we have to fast forward the middle of so that the three year old doesn’t tear up. Apparently he is indeed perceptive enough to the concept of death at his age. Yikes.
Interesting to watch the whole Third Reich sequence in the middle, complete with Nuremberg Rally flashbacks throughout the video for Be Prepared. And casual racism, because y’know, 90’s Disney could have given less.
Who exactly is Nala’s father? We only ever see Mufasa and Scar as adult males until Simba grows up. This would lead us to believe that there is at least a chance that the family tree might be a whole lot smaller than we thought as kids. I prefer to think she had a deadbeat Lion dad who headed away from the tribe, but who knows for sure? It COULD be Scar, but Scar lives away from the rest of them.
The Little Mermaid
Ariel, you brat, you are a child. Believe it or not, your dad isn’t out to ruin your life. He’s trying to save you from starring in a future episode of Hoarders, or being kidnapped by some strange man who is likely a lot older than you if he’s looking for a wife.
She’s also willing to marry the man before even getting a proper kiss. Without even asking him the basics like “What are your feelings about brussel sprouts?”, “Blur or Oasis?” or, the all important check of what side of the bed he sleeps on. She’s fifteen, so I’m pretty sure her lack of parental consent would also impinge on that whole wedding thing.
Ursula is definitely my favourite Disney villain. Even if she is completely terrifying. I’d love to see her backstory in a Malificent-esque movie.
Also, hunting through shipwrecks for treasure Ariel? Really? Your hobbies need some work.
Admittedly, this one does contain a lot of the “Really? Really??” in it – see the comments that Kristoff makes to Anna on finding out she’s planning on marrying a man (Hans) that she’s just met. Nodding along vehemently to that one. Disney ladies – get to know them better and find out if they’re evil BEFORE you put a ring on it.
Why is it that she’s got to hide her powers anyway? Surely teaching her how to use them for good, and how to be careful with them is better than letting them blow up in the way they did? Like, yeah, she injured her sister and all, but basically isolating her for her entire childhood is not instructed in ANY of the parenting books.
Another Disney movie, another set of dead parents. Although, I really do like the theory that the shipwreck didn’t kill them after all, they just wound up in the jungle and gave birth to Tarzan.
Also, everyone is VERY forgiving of the whole “you froze the kingdom we live in, we could have died but oh okay, sure it’s grand now” thing. Like, really? Not a judgey look or a protest against her leadership skills once it all resolves itself?
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
I do wonder how a song about a man lusting after a woman, and her lack of retaliation leading him to wanting to burn her to death ever made it into a children’s movie. All of the misogyny and creep-tastic feelings with this one. Part of me wants to remember just exactly what I thought it was about as a child. Watching it as an adult, I’m not sure what other way it could have been taken….
More dead parents. And Quasi’s mother really did die a traumatic death.
That market square sequence where they turn on him is brutal.
Really, if you take the fun Gargoyle scenes out, this really isn’t a movie for children, is it?
That said, serious soundtrack love here. “God Help The Outcasts”, “The Bells of Notre Dame” and even “Hellfire” are all seriously good. Menken and Schwartz were good at what they did!
This one I can’t truly blame just being an adult on. For my final year project in university, I did an analysis of Peter Pan with tales from the Finn Cycle. In doing so, I came to the conclusion that Peter Pan really isn’t a suitable story for children.
The Lost Boys in Neverland? Yeah, they never grow up because Peter KILLS them to stop them aging more than him. This, thankfully, they don’t go into in the movie. Instead they focus on the older man (Captain Hook) obsessively following them and plotting their downfall. Children. Yeah, let that sit with you.
Also, the racism. The entire sequence with the Native Americans is mind bogglingly offensive, but as a kid I definitely remember finding it HILARIOUS, because it had a funny dance.
I’m not entirely sure Wendy could have gotten any more 1950s housewife, but if there was any risk of this film passing the Bechdel Test, her feud with Tinkerbell over their love for Peter certainly shattered that. Oh dear. Wendy, the Women’s Lib movement is calling.
Beauty and The Beast
Where to begin with this movie?
Why does the entire palace and all the people in it suffer for the selfish acts of Prince Adam? That’s a bit of a hamfisted approach to be fair. Turn him into a beast by all means, but turning everyone to furniture is just mean.
Also, he was a child at the time – kids don’t have fully developed brains or senses of justice, so perhaps something a bit less dramatic would have been in order? He was simply not letting a complete stranger into his house. You know, that thing we tell children to not do.
Alright Belle, we get it, you can read and others can’t. Nobody likes a show off. Maybe try teaching others to read to improve the town? No?
How has the town not figured out that their prince has become a beast until all of this kicks off? Did they just assume he vanished? Why, when the beast hasn’t bothered them for years do they automatically think he’s out to kill them all? Maybe he’s a pacifist guys. Just maybe.
Gaston REALLY needs to learn when he’s barking up the wrong tree.
I fell in love with the library in Beast’s castle as a child, but now all I can see are the health and safety risks of having to get a book from one of the higher shelves. That ladder does not look sturdy. However, my bookworm self is still in awe of that kind of a library. Life goals.
And the obvious: Stockholm Syndrome.
Those are just some of the Disney movies that I’m seeing in all new eyes as an adult. I’m sure as Eliott gets a bit older, there will be many more thoughts to add to the pile. Have you got any to add? Let me know what you’ve noticed in your much loved Disney movies that is questionable as an adult!
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