I’ve recently been recapturing my youth somewhat and rewatching some of my much loved Disney films. Y’know, the classic Disneys: Beauty and the Beast, Lady and the Tramp, Cinderella, The Little Mermaid. I’m of the age that I don’t have time for the new Disney princesses or Disney Pixar films. I’ve never seen Finding Nemo, I’ve never had an inkling to watch Frozen and all the others make me pull my nose up in disgust.
When looking back at Disney films as an adult, the whole “Happily Ever After” premise is met with a pinch/heavy sprinkling of salt. Not because I wail into a pillow and sob that there’s no such thing as a happy ending, more because as “ever afters” go, as enjoyable and sing along as Disney films are, the princesses don’t seem to particularly set their standards very high when it comes to love.
What if Cinderella had grown herself a back bone and when Prince Charming finally came a knocking with that glass slipper had said “listen buddy, you may well think you’re in love with me but you’ve travelled your entire kingdom trying this shoe on every available womans foot. Surely if you were that into me you’d know full well that my Ugly Sisters aren’t going to be the girl you were dancing with at the ball the other night. If that shoe would have fit Mary from down the road would you have lived happily ever after? Get up off your knee, get that skanky shoe off my foot and maybe we could go for a drink so I can establish whether other than you ‘being a prince’ are worth my time”
What if Belle from Beauty and the beast hadn’t been so “belle”? (french for “beautiful”). As legend goes, the prince was turned into a beast for turning away a haggared old woman and would only be returned to his former self if he could learn to truly love another and be loved in return. So he goes and falls in love with someone who’s beautiful. Surely the ultimate test would be whether or not he could fall in love with somebody ugly – maybe one of the ugly sisters from Cinderella? Surely the only person who passed that test was Belle for falling in love with the Beast? (As a side note: does anybody else find “Beast” far more attractive when he’s “Beast” rather then when he changes back into the Prince. Whenever he used to turn back I’d back an URGH face and long for the hairy and slightly scary Beast that Belle fell in love with.)
What if Ariel had stayed a mermaid and given Eric an “it’s me or your legs” ultimatum. She could have stayed “under da see” with Flounder and Sebastian and good old Eric could have sacrificed his legs to become a mer-man or another fish type to live happily ever after with Ariel. “BECAUSE ARIEL IS MISERABLE UNDER THE SEA, SEBASTIAN SAYS SO IN THE CAVE” you say “HE SAID SHE’LL BE MISERABLE FOR THE REST OF HER WHOLE LIFE IF SHE STAYS UNDER THE SEA”. She’s 16 years old, she says, she’s not a child. All 16 year olds are miserable and want what they can’t have so it’s only natural that Ariel wants to be where the people are (did you start singing Part of That World then?). Essentially she falls in love with the first human male she gets up close and singy with, gets Ursula the Seawitch to turn her into a human (and the cost of her voice) and almost kills off her beardy pa in the process. …all over some guy who ditches her at the drop of a hat for Ursula’s sly wedding trick.
Happily Ever After I think not.