… Disney Films: they don’t really pull any punches.
Disney Films are by and large rated “G”, occasionally “PG”; they paint a world full of rainbows and good people and happy endings. They’re “wholesome” – the whole family can safely be exposed to their imagery without little children being traumatized, confused, or plunged prematurely into adult themes and situations. Disney is … good. But the Disney villains are not good – not by any stretch of the imagination.
There are a few “villains” – Pirates’ Jack Sparrow, for example, or Syndrome’s secretary in The Incredibles – who either redeem themselves or reveal themselves to have been the good guys all along. But the typical Disney villain is truly bad. 101 Dalmatians’ Cruella wants to steal puppies, kill them, and make them into a coat. The Little Mermaid’s Ursula keeps a garden of little souls and chases young girls so that she can kill them. Beauty and the Beast’s Gaston is misogynistic, cruel, and murderous. The kids in Escape to Witch Mountain are running from men who want to use them to do horrible things, to commit crimes, and to be life-long prisoners. You won’t see these kinds of bad guys on Dora the Explorer.
And then there’s life – the one that Disney films say is so wonderful and happy and full of love and rainbows. Well, the people in a typical Disney film earn those rainbows and those happy endings. In the Disney version of life, bad things happen to good people … all the time. Children are abandoned by their parents; fathers die and leave their families with no money and no hope. Courts hang children for piracy, and dogs get rabies. Main characters pass away, leaving holes of sadness behind them. And, of course, let’s not forget the hunters who shot Bambi’s mother.
Disney films are not for the faint of heart.
But they do offer an excellent prescription for what’s wrong with the world, and they do it by looking those wrongs squarely in the face. Bad things happen to good people. Bad people happen to good people. Life can be a kick in the gut. And, if we’re willing to have hope and act on that hope, then in the end love and goodness can triumph.
Some people say Disney films are sappy and sentimental … to them I say: Cruella wanted to kill puppies and make them into coats! Puppies! Coats!
The Disney good guys have to face a lot of sincere evil and despair before they get to happy … and that makes it all the more worth winning.