Disney, Dreams and Disarray

I know you, I walked with you once upon a dream.
~ Sleeping Beauty (1959)

Sleeping Beauty…my favorite Disney movie. Hands down. Always has been. I’ve watched the movie a million times (most recently, just last week as background noise at work instead of Pandora). I’ve seen the ballet. Know the words, know the songs, have the soundtrack—with and without the words on the Tchaikovsky selection. And with the new Maleficent movie out, my eleven-year-old self, the dreamer of a girl hiding behind that tomboy facade, is all excited. Thus, I’ve been giving this movie a lot of thought.

I used to think I loved this one because the witch was just a witch. Not a wicked step-mother, no real reason for evil, she just was. And she’s always been my favorite Disney villain. Evil for the sake of being evil (like the original Michael Myers, not that watered down give-him-a-reason-and-remove-the-scary version Zombie did). Petty, bitchy, pissy Maleficent who, for all the script tells us, is so angry she wasn’t invited to the baby’s announcement she curses the child to be beautiful and perfect and DIE. Yeah, I’d like to have dinner with Maleficent and find out exactly what happened in her childhood to make her so damn evil.

For a time I thought it was purely for the Tchaikovsky aspect, as I was in dance class and loved the ballet version of the tale. I knew the ballet version of the waltz, and I knew the movie version. (Yes, I’ve danced with invisible owls dressed as princes in my kitchen, don’t judge.)

Or maybe it was for the fairies. I liked them better than most other fairy-type creatures in the other films. And the magic in this one was fun and wicked and all around accepted as normal.

Nope. Turns out it might just be because of prince freaking charming. I hate to admit that.

What Barbie has done for the body dysmorphia this country suffers, Disney has done for female expectations, and websites like match dot com should really pay them some sort of kickback for convincing people prince charming no only exists, but they can find their own for only $39.99 a month. My eleven-year-old self believed in prince charming and happy endings. By twenty those same thoughts would have been followed by yadda yadda yadda, as the adult put childish thoughts aside and was happy just hoping for the best. The dreams Disney insisted on and instilled in the psyche of little girls everywhere were shattered across a whole generation by the harsh reality of dead chivalry, condom vending machines, and impatience preventing the sweet build of friendship first in lieu of one night stands and “digits.”

However, tiny rant aside, this prince was different and I think that’s why I loved this movie. Let’s look at Disney princes for a moment, shall we?

  • Cinderella: one-night stand, but he returns her shoe and gives her a castle. aka Cindy wins the lottery.
  • Snow White: he kisses a sleeping stranger to save her. Or, molesting unconscious and/or dead girl in the woods is okay.
  • Little Mermaid: this tard doesn’t even notice her because she can’t talk? Then he’s completely sidetracked by a witch in disguise as a hot chick and only gets the girl because her dad changed her fins to legs.
  • Aladdin: not even a prince. A lying, deceiving street rat. Yeah, that’s who we want to fall in love with.

Sad, depressing, pathetic. Yes. However…

  • Sleeping Beauty: Phillip—this prince deserved to have his name remembered—did a bit more than average. He fought to escape the dungeon, battled goblins, cut through a forest of thorns, defeated a freaking dragon, beat the witch, broke the curse, and got the girl.

But most importantly, he didn’t even want a princess in the first place, he wanted the girl next door he found in the woods talking to nature and dancing to music only she could hear (aka he was okay with her being a little crazy). And she didn’t want to be a princesses betrothed to someone else, because she had found herself a nice boy just riding his horse through the woods who actually played well with her brand of crazy. Even though they were unknowingly betrothed, they were much more, they were destined and determined. He didn’t come in armor—hell he had to borrow a sword and shield. She didn’t come with a tiara.

I can’t speak for the rest of the females on the planet, but I’ve never been interested in a prince charming with a white horse and shiny armor. Just a guy comfortable in his own skin, with personal demons and dings in his armor, willing to fight the metaphorical dragons and goblins and witches of the world. Thus while the other Disney princes promise “happily ever after” but base it on almost nothing—giving little girls dreams and hopes only to crush them and fill their empty spaces with disappointment and disarray—Phillip actually works through issues and fights for his girl next door. He wins. This movie wins. Even though it was met with horrible box office receipts upon release and caused Disney to avoid fairy tales again until Little Mermaid years and years later. Win.

So, while my eleven-year-old self excitedly awaits the night I slip out to the theater to watch Maleficent, my jaded adult self agrees to let the innocent youth hiding inside to infect her. Just a little. And hum the waltz while dancing with an invisible owl dressed as hope.

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