EVEN MORE EYES’ retrospective series ‘Nostalgia Hits Differently‘ has two very opinionated critics, James and Imo, learn that nostalgia ain’t want it used to be.
The second episode has the intrepid critics return to the Disney movies released in their actual childhood: the 1990’s!
Disney Studios wanted a ‘Whole New World’ for their Renaissance Period. Yet Imo and James discover it’s not quite as wholesome as they remember.
How King Triton’s concerns about humans might have some justification in the unknowingly genocidal ‘The Little Mermaid’ (1989)…
…why ‘Beauty & The Beast’ (1991) is NOT a tale about Stockholm Syndrome, but is captive to other gendered conventions…
…where ‘Aladdin’ (1992) takes tentative progressive steps for Jasmine while drowning in racism…
…and why ‘Pocahontas’ (1995) paints intercultural romance and conflict in broad strokes, but still represents a major shift for the Princesses to come.
This is the second of four episodes that will chart a journey with the Disney Princesses from the Classic Era (mid-20th Century) through the Renaissance (late 20th Century to early 21st) and into the Revival (early 2010s onward).
Listen to Episode 1 on Classic Disney here.
This was a fun podcast and you brought up points I didn’t think about. Like you and Imo, I’ve been accused of overanalyzing movies sometimes to the point of being bullied and gaslighted. You all had a lot of fun talking about these Disney movies. I certainly remember them during my childhood.
The Little Mermaid was a movie I never liked even as a kid. Part of it was because Ursula scared the crap out of me when I was a kid, but as I get older I got annoyed with the Ariel character with her getting so many plot conveniences to get what she wants. Man, I didn’t even think about the genocidal implications with the fish being caught and eaten by humans. The fridge horror was something I didn’t even think about. The only other examples of those implications would be Frollo’s anti-Romani plot in Hunchback of Notre Dame which was intentional and the protagonist centered morality of Mufasa from The Lion King especially when learning about real life genocides against Africans and Native Americans when you can see disturbing parallels with the elephant graveyard.
Beauty and the Beast does get awkward watching it especially with the bestiality implications of their relationship and with the Beast’s dialogue being low-key abusive in some of their interactions. I do see with what you’re coming from with it not being the all-out Stockholm Syndrome movie. Not going to lie, I did think the “Gaston simp” comment about LeFou was hilarious because it’s such an accurate way to describe that beta male sidekick. Hahahaha! XD
Aladdin was something I didn’t realize was as problematic as I thought until really looking at it after watching the remake a couple of years ago. The Arab stereotypes are very cringe-worthy watching it with modern eyes. I don’t know if you know this, but the original lyric in “Arabian Nights” goes “They’ll cut off your ear if they don’t like your face. It’s barbaric, but hey! It’s home!”. This angered the Arab-American community when it was in theaters, so they changed the lyrics in the home video versions and changed it again in the remake. My sister liked Jasmine because she was the closest Disney princess she could relate to since she was the first non-white princess in general (context: both my sister and I are Black/Caucasian mixed). Of course, Disney never made a prince or hero who looked like me…
Pocahontas…OH, BOY! I can see why the Native American community freaking HATES this movie. I’ve read some works from Winona LaDuke who’s a Native American writer and activist, so I learned a ton about the cultures. They whitewash that history in America, so much it isn’t even funny. The “Savages” song is a white denial false equivalency strawman in musical form! They were victims of genocide and you have tribes who’ve been extinct for centuries or even mere decades in the eye of history. I did like Imo’s insight about colonialism coming from Sub-Saharan Africa which was very powerful. Fun fact: Most of my maternal (Black) side’s heritage comes from the Congo and Cameroon which I discovered via a DNA test a couple of years ago. Disney was so lazy when it came to making this movie. It’s only marginally better (not saying much) from the Native Americans in Peter Pan which were super offensive to begin with. They’ve had good representation with Polynesian characters with Lilo & Stitch and Moana, but they’ve dropped the ball so much with other cultures. Think about it, you’ve had some Asian racism with various Siamese cat characters, anti-Latinx racism with two Chihuahua characters, and multiple examples of anti-Black racism, saying nothing about how they’re 0 for 2 with Black characters in their movies which take place in Africa.
Thanks for dealing with the text block, but I hope you appreciate the feedback. I really enjoyed the podcast!
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Thanks for listening again and for sharing your own story! Yes, we’ve both ‘suffered’ the same accusations but we though we’d put that energy to use in the podcast. We want to generate this discussion, while treating Disney with a mixture of ‘seriousness’ and irreverence!
Yes, I wasn’t sure whether to mention the cut lines from ‘Aladdin’ – regardless it doesn’t make it better they took it out at all!
We’ve got discussion coming up on ‘Moana’ in our next episode (No. 4) and no doubt we’ll look into Lilo & Stitch someday too (we might be taking a hiatus from Disney for a while- too many movies at once). Our last episode is going to be on ‘Raya & the Last Dragon’ when that debuts next month. Be very interesting how Disney decides to utilise (dare I say appropriate) the Asian influences for that film. Current commentary is critical but we’ll see when the movie actually comes out.
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You’re definitely welcome. I’m glad you can relate. Especially as I get older, there were so many things that I didn’t realize were problematic as I gain more life experience as well as independently researching so many different things. Granted, people have given me crap for even daring to critique Disney as a company or the unsavory things about their movies. I’m glad you both had so much fun making these podcasts.
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