By Ahtiya Liles
Need I say more? I mean, really, is this even a question?
Disney movies are timeless and will forever be timeless. There’s a reason they’ll randomly come on TV or that when you see them pop up on Netflix recommendations, you immediately put them on your list, even if you’ve seen them, like, 10 times already. Or is that just me? 😁
I’m talking about animated Disney movies of course (ALL the princess and female heroin movies, Hercules, Aladdin, Tarzan, and all the other ones that my mind is blanking on right now). There’s just something about them that makes you never get tired of them, and I think it’s because of the lessons they teach us.
1. Love and Friendship Have No One Path: If you look at a wide range of Disney animated movies, you will see that the path to love and friendship is different in all of them.
1A. Love Is Weird: In Frozen, Kristof and Anna aren’t destined to fall in love. Quite the opposite actually, since she’s kind of engaged to another dude and only meets Kristof because she needs a trip up an icy mountain. Kristof and Anna basically start out as companions by necesity, then they move into friends, and then by the end of the movie, they kind of like like each other. In Hercules, Meg and Herc fall in love simply because there’s something about either of them that makes the other one tick. Meg is super independent and Hercules has been trained to want to save everybody, and Hercules is super charming and Meg desperately doesn’t want to fall in love with him, especially since she’s supposed to be leading him on. They fall in love anyway, through the trickery and deception, and Hercules actually gets over Meg’s lies pretty quickly. This is probably because the movie was near the end and the writers felt they had to wrap up the storyline or little kids would get bored.
1B. Friendships Come In Unexpected Ways: In Aladdin, Genie and Aladdin start out as employee and client. Aladdin has the lamp and Genie must give him three wishes. Throughout the movie, though, you see their friendship grow and blossom. By the end, Aladdin sets aside his personal wants because he now sees Genie as a person (I guess he’s a person – I mean, what else would he be?) and as someone who should live free and not be entrapped within the rules of a mystical lamp. In Mulan, Mulan and her three compadres (Yao, Ling, and Chien Po) don’t start off so well. The three men think of Mulan as a weakling and they feel betrayed once they discover that Mulan is actually a woman. By the end of the movie, though, they are essentially a best friends, and they run into battle (albeit an unconventional battle) with her without question.
2. Parents Come In All Shapes and Sizes: The Lion King‘s Simba, in his adolescent years, wasn’t raised by his parents (granted, his father was dead and his uncle ran him out of town, but that’s besides the point…). He was raised by Timon and Puumba, and I think he turned out pretty okay. Don’t you? He tried to reveal his uncle as a murderer, and it definitely turned out better than it did for Hamlet. 😐 Mowgli from The Jungle Book is raised by the animals of the jungle, and the same goes for Tarzan, as he’s raised by apes. Aurora from Sleeping Beauty is raised by three fairies, and Jasmin from Aladdin, Belle from Beauty & the Beast, and Ariel from The Little Mermaid are all raised by single fathers. Disney teaches that the “traditional” family structure is not the only family structure.
3. Yes, Your Parents May Die, But You Will Go On To Do Great Things: This is a really important one because most children fear the day their parents will no longer be alive. It’s a terrible thought to have, but go with me on this one. How many Disney movies actually have the parents in them, alive and well? Or maybe even one parent? Yeah, you can probably count the number between your two hands, right? Let’s just talk about biological parents, where both are alive and live throughout the entirety of the movie: Rapunzel from Tangled, Mulan…yikes. Like, I’m sure there have to be at least two more movies where both parents make it through the entirety of the movie alive (if you know of some I’m missing, please comment below! :D), but you get my point. Disney parents just aren’t a thing – it’s always Disney teenagers or little kids. Point being: yes, our parents will die, whether they are biological or not, but this is not the end of the world. It’s a scary thought to think that one day we’ll be without them, but we will survive, and it will be okay. Okay, enough about this depressing stuff…
4. Don’t Judge A Character By Their Face: Hans. I should leave it right there and not say anything else, to be honest. Hans is the character that embodies this the most. Disney creates him to be this charming partner to a female heroin: he’s charming, he’s a prince, he let’s her go off on her own without being controlling, he likes sandwiches, he just gets Anna and her struggles… AND THEN BAM! He’s an absolute prick who tries to kill her and usurp her kingdom from her and her sister, AND THEN LIES ABOUT THEM GETTING MARRIED. Literally, when he said, “Oh, Anna, if only there was someone who loved you,” my mouth DROPPED. I think I might have gasped and stopped breathing for a couple of seconds. So, case and point: never judge someone by their appearances and their first impressions.
I could go on about the wonders of Disney, but I’ll stop here. If you feel that there are any other lessons I missed, please comment below! I’d love to hear your thoughts.