The conclusion of my opinion on Peggy Orenstein’s Cinderella ate my Daughter.
And so we end with a discussion of Disney and Pixar movies. I expect my thoughts to end no other way. Orenstein states at one point, after talking about Tiana’s arrival, that “it was about time that Disney made up for the racism of Song of the South, The Jungle Book, and Dumbo (and Aladdin and Peter Pan)” (Orenstein 180). My first impact: You forgot Pocahontas! Remember, Orenstein does not seem to see the racism in Pocahontas, even talking about how “you can gussy up [her] eagle feathers only so much” (Orenstein 14). Me: WHAT? Pocahontas is like Aladdin: The stereotypes leading to racism are just slightly obvious. And to be honest, that statement about eagle feathers? For someone seeming to want acceptance, Orenstein sure seems to have a few moments of discriminatory thoughts herself.
Orenstein then moves on to talking about how her daughter did not seem to understand that Tiana, not Lottie, was the princess, saying that this was a way of showing how we have been taught to see only whites as princesses. Though, Orenstein, in all technicality, you are wrong. Lottie was a princess—princess of the Mardi Gras parade. Tiana was just a real princess in the end, and a better caliber of princess, though both showed princess qualities (like kindness and understanding) that more people should live by.
Orenstein also seems to think that we are meant to dislike Lottie. I don’t necessarily see that as true. Yes, she was spoiled, but she, as Orenstein even admitted, “was ultimately good-hearted” (Orenstein 182). I think people overanalyze these things. Hell, I even overanalyze these things.
In order to convince her readers of great female voices outside of Disney movies, Orenstein names a few. While I have not seen any, the name of one made me laugh, especially in the context of being a good movie with a strong female role model. One of the movies is named Laputa: The Castle in the Sky. And if any of you know Spanish, you will laugh at the title as well. And if it’s taken from Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels… Well, Swift was a satirist. He was also a bit risqué. He wasn’t exactly “kid friendly.”
Orenstein moves on to talk about how kids don’t understand why you do not want them to have certain things. The way she says it, I find a bit disrespectful. She talks about kids being harmed, but treats three year-olds as unintelligent. Three year-olds (and kids in general) can be smarter than we think. They may not be able to express themselves perfectly, but they understand things. Many also are not lacking in the empathy, and that takes understanding of adult situations. Oh, and “Going all Amish” (Orenstein 186)? Did you really just say that? Now that is disrespectful.
On the next page, Orenstein laments the existence of Mulan II. And truth be told, every loyal Mulan fan I know (myself included) acts as though Mulan II does not exist. Actually, on that thought: What is this Mulan II you speak of and why have I not heard of it? (But assuming I have heard of it, it totally copped a line from a Cinderella sequel. Seriously, Disney? I love you but… Where’s the originality?)
At last we have arrived to the penultimate notes. And it ends with Pixar and Disney. Orenstein comments on how the Pixar themes do not have female leads and, after twelve movies, it is about time that Pixar had a female lead. Orenstein goes even further to make it seem like all the movies do not have any female characters. In turn, I have to go movie by movie (as I think of them) to point out important female characters. (Besides—what’s wrong with the guys not getting stuffed aimed at them? Lately it seems to be “Girls this and girls that” that finally a study came out that says boys are slipping in school because of the emphasis on girls… what’s wrong with making them feel special every once in awhile? But I digress):
- Toy Story – well, it is a boy’s room… Not excusing it, but some movies are predominately female, others male. Both are acceptable.
- Small mailman? Are you talking about Up because Up does not have any mailmen as main characters, even though one is called a small mailman. And while the movie does center around two males, remember that it was an adventurous, well-rounded female that spurred the older male to adventure in the first place. That and the awesome animal they find is female.
- Incredibles is about a family. The women are as important as men in this movie. It has a good mix, from what I can remember, of male and female superhero characters.
- Finding Nemo: Marlin is neurotic, but everyone remembers loveable and forgetful Dory. Why? Because since she is so trusting, she is able to solve all the problems with finding Nemo.
- Monster’s Inc did not make Orenstein’s list of male characters she had to sit through. I was going to say that there were no female monsters, but then I remember Roz. Roz is quite important. But anyway, an integral part of the movie is Boo—a female.
- Wall-E. I don’t know about you, but female EVE was pretty awesome and good at ass-kicking.
Yes, some of the movies are male-strong, but often supporting characters—NOT protagonists—make the movies and you are overlooking some awesome females in the Pixar movies. And again, what’s wrong with making boys feel special from time to time? The movies are also good at showing males and females working together as equals… at least I think they are.
Now the last of the Disney: Orenstein worries about how Tangled will be when it comes out. According to Orenstein, who even admits that she may enjoy Tangled, it “will not be ‘Rapunzel.’ And that’s too bad, because ‘Rapunzel’ is an especially layered and relevant fairy tale, less about the love between a man and a woman than the misguided attempts of a mother trying to protect her daughter…” (Orenstein 190). And you know what? That’s what Tangled was about! Yes, there was a love interest, but there’s one in the original tale as well. Yet the love interest does not take up a lot of the movie. It really is about a “mother” protecting her daughter, and her daughter’s rebellious search for identity and freedom. A lot of Disney movies have more than just guy-meets-girl-falls-in-love-etc. Many themselves are quite layered. Listen to the lyrics, sometime. Great intelligence there, for the record.