Ah, the wonderful world of Disney. I grew up in a house where my mom was a big fan of Mickey and Minnie Mouse. She and my dad drove to California before I was born and came home with a giant Mickey and Minnie in the back seat, which are probably still in their house somewhere amid the rubble of memorabilia. Mom didn’t go on an airplane until her 40’s, so we would drive to the “Happiest Place on Earth.” I have fond memories of taking the monorail from the Contemporary Hotel and watching the Electrical Parade, my brother by my side. My mom would always like to say that there are representatives from every state and country who visit Disney World and she would talk to every single one of them. She always enjoyed waking us up with a Disney song. It might surprise you to know that I was not a big fan of that ritual; yet, I have incorporated it into my routine with my boys. Mind you, I don’t sing a Disney song, but one of equal or greater quality. Just another reason for them to say, “You are so annoying.” Yes kids, it’s a generational thing. If you didn’t say it to me, I would think that I was doing something wrong.
In any event, I, being nothing like my mother, am not the biggest fan of the “Happiest Place on Earth.” So much so that the last time I was there, I contested the bill on the credit card…and won. Happiest place? I think not. But the one thing about the “Wonderful World of Disney” that I am a fan of are the movies. They are truly delightful and teach us such important lessons.
When we look at Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid…the lesson of these films is, in my opinion, the woman with the smallest waist gets the guy. The wicked stepsisters don’t remain spinsters because they are wicked, because in real life, wicked women get married too. They don’t get the prince in the end because they don’t look like Cinderella when they all get dressed up—let’s be honest folks. Do you want to see zaftig princesses roaming around Disney World taking pictures with your little ones? Of course not. It can get really hot in Orlando and no one likes a sweaty princess. People have said that there need to be more ethnic princesses. Tiana, the first African-American Disney princess, appeared in the film The Princess and the Frog, but I think the real discrimination is against the overweight princess. I am sure my opinion on this doesn’t surprise any of you. I think Shrek and Fiona might be the only realistic-looking couple in the bunch, but I am sure there is a catch there somewhere, I just can’t remember what it is.
I recently went to see Disney’s latest blockbuster, Finding Dory. This would be the mind-numbing sequel to Finding Nemo. It is an adorable film with incredible animation and great actors taking on the voices of fish and such. The lesson of this movie? I don’t want to ruin it for you, but since there are no princes or princesses in it, the lessons are a lot more realistic. They are mostly all fish and fish, for the most part, don’t have weight problems. Maybe it’s because they drink so much water. But the issues that these characters have are not appearance based. Which makes me very happy, but the marketing department at Disney headquarters probably has a hard time coming up with merchandising ideas for an octopus…what kid wants to cuddle up with that at night?
The moral of the Disney-themed story always seems to be, “and they lived happily ever after.” Chances are, if there were a remake of Cinderella, the handsome prince would have a trophy wife and Cinderella would have a reality show about dating in your 50’s. The Little Mermaid decides that life on land was a lot more uncomfortable in high heels and leaves the prince to go back to her friends in the sea. And Beauty leaves the Beast when he gets arrested for running a Ponzi scheme and she realizes that he isn’t all that attractive after all. I guess it’s a good thing that Walt Disney wasn’t a cynic…
By Banji Latkin Ganchrow
Banji Ganchrow wishes life were filled with mice that would help her clean her house and birds that would help her get dressed.