When hearing discussion about Disney films in the golden age, you usually hear the same argument about how it is unrealistic for the girls. It was encapsulated in the song Mad at Disney released by pop musician Salem Ilese, where the subject of the song explains how she thought that there would always be a prince that would save her, but finding out later on in life that no man wants to hold down a relationship. She further sings how Disney never posited the possibility that Aurora’s prince could have cheated on her while she was in her death-like slumber, or that Cinderella got a divorce from her prince.
However, I am writing this article to let you know that they are also unrealistic for the boys. Think about it this way. Most of the male love interests are the ones who have to slay the monster in order to save their true love.
Contextualize in this way. In order to be a true man, you have to endanger your own life in order to save a woman whom you barely even know or even talked to. In the case of Aladdin, you would have to lie about who you are in order to get what you want–in his case, he lied about being a prince in order to get Jasmine’s hand in marriage. And what’s more, he is rewarded in the end because he endangered the city of Agrabah in order to seal Jafar away in a lamp.
Coming back to Ilese’s suggestion of Cinderella’s divorce, it would make sense how that could happen in real life. If you chose your wife simply because she fits a pair of glass slippers and had a good dance with her one time–and know nothing else about her–then the marriage is doomed to failure because both of you failed to jive as one.
Of course, recent Disney films had moved away from this cookie-cutter framework. However, the Disney films within the Princess category hold a lot of significance for many people. They are so important that they are among the ones who are given live-action adaptations.
Before anyone comments about how these films are “just movies” and are not meant to be taken seriously, the problem with that logic is that these films are targeted towards children. In many cases, children may not have friends nor have a good relationship with their own parents, and the television is the only friend and parent they truly have. As such, they are inclined to take everything they see on the screen at face value. It is also important to note that children are in a vulnerable state where they will accept everything told to them.
As such, they are never taught that the world is a messy, complicated place, you cannot differentiate between the good and the bad guys, and that love is not always at first sight. Not only that, but your enemies are not monsters; in all cases, the monsters reside inside all of us, and we must slay them through study, practice, and abstinence in order to truly progress in life.
Ilese, Salem. mad at disney (official lyric video). YouTube.
MsMojo. Top 10 Disney Characters Who Are Actually The Villains. YouTube. May 20, 2019.
Leight, Elias. ‘Mad at Disney’: How an Angry Fan Made a Massive TikTok Hit. Rolling Stone. September 10, 2020.