Hello, lovely reader! How are you?
Today’s blog concerns that trickiest of childhood tragedies: Disney movies do not represent modern life. I know. You spend years watching princesses get swept off their feet, and as an adult there isn’t so much as a dustpan and brush in sight. How unfair is that?
I’ve had a bit of a think about this, and I’ve come to the conclusion that the kind of mistakes that modern men tend to make (and modern women tend to despair of them because of) are actually pretty similar to the ones made by Disney heroes. True, there tends to be less at stake: it is unlikely, for example, that a chap you’re enamoured with will accidentally provoke the wrath of an evil sorceress, get his own dad murdered or get the whole of China wiped out. But go with me on this, because I’ve got some examples up my sleeve:
1) Simba – the Disappearing Act
Simba is a troubled lad. Obviously he has very good reasons for disappearing after Jeremy Irons throws his dad into the path of a stampede, but how is Nala supposed to know that? Did he call? Did he send her a postcard (or leaf or whatever they use in the jungle)? No. As far as Nala was concerned, he pulled a classic disappearing act on her; something that lots of non-cartoon, non-leonine women bemoan happening to them.
2) Eric – the Can’t Quite Seal the Deal
Eric my lad, you are being serenaded by a crustacean and his motley band of fish, birds, etc. JUST KISS HER. I know she hasn’t said a word since you found her bedraggled on a beach, but she CLEARLY likes you. Man up and seal the deal. The apparent unwillingness or inability of a guy to make the first move is something that many girls I know get very frustrated with. There are all sorts of gender roles at play here, but even in our enlightened twenty-first century dating world, the majority ruling still seems to be that guys are ‘supposed’ to make the first move.
3) Aladdin – the Compulsive Liar
Aladdin is in a bizarre conundrum from the second Robin Williams starts granting him wishes, and although the viewers completely understand why he feels the need to conceal the truth from his lady-love, he lies at a rate that would put most politicians to shame. Jasmine is clearly a smart cookie, and she works out that something’s up with her new boyfriend pretty sharpish, but does Aladdin confess all and beg for forgiveness? Nope. He KEEPS LYING. I completely understand that being honest when you know it will spell trouble is scary, but I’ve been in Jasmine’s shoes, and I can tell you for a fact that covering lies up with more lies is just not cool. If I were her, I would have fed him to my pet tiger.
4) Shang – the Just Won’t Listen
I still can’t quite believe that Disney got away with this one: he refuses to listen to Mulan because she’s a GIRL. Yeah ok, she made some mistakes too, but this guy basically chooses his culture’s expectations of women over his actual experience of a woman’s abilities, including staying calm under fire, rescuing her entire troop and burying the bad guy under an avalanche. What an idiot. This is by no means a gender-specific habit, but it is infuriating when your other half is too stubborn to listen to you, especially if their reasoning is so patently ridiculous.
5) Beast – the Emotionally Unavailable
Ok, this one is a classic: guy likes girl. Guy doesn’t think that girl will like him back. Instant grumpy bastard. Girl has no way of knowing that this is the problem, so she leaves feeling confused (and a bit chilly in all that snow, I should think). In fairness, Beast (whose human name is Adam, did you know?) is having a massive confidence crisis, what with being an undefined species of animal, as well having a pretty tight schedule to stick to. But you get the idea. I hear a lot of my male friends complaining about the fact that their girlfriends and partners expect them to be mind-readers, but it does work both ways. When a guy pulls the hot-and-cold behaviour on you, or retreats without warning into complete emotional unavailability, girls tend to panic. Guys have no idea how fast our brains can work when we think that they don’t like us anymore.
It’s pretty reassuring to look at these Disney classics and discover that at least some aspects of the stories are salvageable as relevant to contemporary life. I’m slightly upset that I’ll never have a castle or the ability to heal people with my hair, but the essential point of this blog was to demonstrate that even the men we are taught to idolise as knights in shining armour are not perfect. They do sort themselves out eventually: apologies, explanations and good old-fashioned dashes to the rescue all feature heavily in the climactic endings of Disney movies. This is relevant to real life too: ladies, we need to accept that men are not perfect, but that the one who is right for us will slay a dragon/storm a castle/run across a magically frozen lake if they have to.