Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Want to snag a man? Then shut up.

With the possible exception of impressionable young children, most everyone knows that Disney's The Little Mermaid is pretty messed up (give up your voice for a man, literally! woohoo!). My friend Katelyn and I seem to spend most of our time together alternating between angrily discussing this fact and breaking into passionate renditions of "Part Of Your World" (What can I say? Old habits die hard).

In an attempt to branch out at our coffee date today, we were trying to remember the words to Ursula's classic aria, "Poor, Unfortunate Souls". We failed miserably, so I looked up the lyrics online when I got home, and GOOD GOD if you haven't re-watched the movie as an adult, you've gotta read this:

[Ursula:] I'm not asking much. Just a token, really, a
trifle. What I want from you is . . . your voice.
[Ariel:] But without my voice, how can I -
[Ursula:] You'll have your looks! Your pretty face! And don't
underestimate the importance of body language! Ha!

The men up there don't like a lot of blabber
They think a girl who gossips is a bore
Yes, on land it's much preferred
For ladies not to say a word
And after all, dear, what is idle prattle for?

Come on, they're not all that impressed with conversation
True gentlemen avoid it when they can
But they dote and swoon and fawn
On a lady who's withdrawn
It's she who holds her tongue who gets her man

Kind of makes you wonder why the Ariel dress from the Disney Princess bridal collection doesn't come with a jewel-encrusted gag, huh?


Poochie said...

Well most fairy tales are quite anti-femine, especially in their traditional versions.

Snow White - kill an unwanted (step)daughter
Cinderella - child labor and physical abuse
Sleeping Beauty - The prince "claiming" her to wake her up
Jasmine in Aladdin - Locked up with no outside contact
Beauty - Father disowns her and she is forced to go live with a "beast"

I worked for Disney and they just clean it up a bit. But who says cartoons are for adults? There are some good books on the origins of fairy tales - quite adult and somewhat perverse. This book is good -

And this too -


Anonymous said...

Obtain the original versions of Grimm's Fairy Tales for your innocent eyed little children.

FutureLint said...

I LOVED the little mermaid as a kid (and as a redhead) and was so excited to MEET Ariel since my mom was friends with the woman who voiced Ariel (Jodi Benson). I was SO disappointed when she came to visit and I saw she was a BLOND. The movie was never the same.

Ana said...

after my feminist side hushed...this is what i thought...


followed by...


I feel lovely and tacky at the same time.

Jam said...

Um.... Isn't that why Ursula is evil? And the whole giving up her voice thing turns out to be a really bad idea in the end, no? I mean, yeah, she gets the man, but she needs lots of help from her friends to do it (cue "Kiss the Girl"... heh, it's hard to talk about this movie without singing). I mean, even though she does end up with what she wants, I'm pretty sure the whole "going to Ursula for a spell and sacrificing her voice in the process" thing is not portrayed in the most positive light.

Anonymous said...

personally, i was completely unmoved by ariel's performance in the little mermaid. in my humble opinion, that singing jamaican lobster stole the whole show.

(i may have got it wrong, as i've not seen the film since it was first in the cinema... but hey after 20 years... it's a miracle i remember it at all!)

Vancouverista said...

The phrase 'Disney Princess Bridal Collection' just sounds so, so wrong.

Rachel said...

Little Mermaid was the first movie I ever saw in theaters :D
However, Disney takes wonderfully gruesome stories that were originally meant to scare little children into behaving and turns them into misogynistic crap that teaches female children that being pretty and getting the man is all that really counts. Or at least classic Disney does that, some of the newer stuff is better about the misogyny. Thank god.
I second the suggestion of reading the original Grimm Brothers' tales, they're much more fun for grown-ups.

Lydia said...

I'm with Julie. The song is satirical; girls aren't actually supposed to be taking advice from the villain. And the rest of the movie makes it pretty clear that that decision was a mistake.

daddylikeyblog said...

Poochie, Anonymous, and Rachel--I LOVE reading the original fairytales--they're so terrifying/hilarious!

Christine--I can't believe your mom was friends with Ariel! (Well, basically.) I would have been extremely upset about the blond thing too. If I had voiced the Little Mermaid, not only would I have dyed my hair permanently red but I would also have a fin surgically fused to my legs, just for the extra authenticity.

Julie and Lydia--
I don't know, I think that it was a strong theme and not only did Ariel take the advice, it was the only way she did get the guy.

Lady Coveted--
Singing Jamaican lobsters are the BEST--I totally understand your reaction.

Emma said...

You know, this is so weird because I just attended a lecture about the Disneyfication of America where we talked about Disney princesses and the kind of message they send out to little girls.
Sounds dull, but it was really interesting.
Here's what I gleaned from Ariel- if you swim around in a purple bra and have lots of lustrous, magical red hair, you don't really need to be able to speak.

Anonymous said...

This is opportunistic and senseless licensing at its best. I followed the link and breezed through some of the bridal gowns; they don't resemble the princess' outfits or anything (which is kind of a relief but still leaves me confused and conflicted).

Jam said...

I'd argue that it was her only way of getting on land -- which was, yes, about getting the guy, but was also an established independent interest of hers. I mean, it's a fairy tale, I don't know that there are other viable options for a mermaid who wants legs, but I refuse to accept that the movie is advocating that a woman should shut up in order to get a man. Ariel's being voiceless is a problem, not an asset; at the very least, it's certainly treated as a punishment. Without seeing the movie again, I'm a little shorthanded here, but who cares, right.

LDF said...

I used to WISH so hard that I would become a mermaid ofter seeing Splash.
I never understood Ariel's obsession with having legs.
Wasn't there any hot mermen?

Pret a Porter P said...

in the "real" little mermaid, ariel doesnt get the prince because of her inability to speak up for herself (he marries another princess, which he believed saved his life) and ariel actually dies.

Unknown said...

This is the same film that in middle school my bff and I would watch over and over because of the wedding scene with the priest's giant, odd moving boner..classic.

sadly they have removed it from all new versions. Lame.

Anonymous said...

Earlier this evening, after reading your latest Blog, I watched "I Love 1989 - 3D" on VH1. At one point they started talking about "The Little Mermaid" being soft-core porn and Hal Sparks said ""Girls, the moral of the story is to give up your voice so you can have legs to spread for your man and never talk." I almost died.

Isabel said...

That's filthy. I always knew Disney fairy tales were in cahoots with the neoconservative devil.

Guy Faux said...

shame I was a tomboy until the age of fourteen... I would have had a field day with these dresses/movies. So fun!

Anonymous said...

this is where "operation shock and awe" (remember that one, folks?) went wrong. we sent the military, but we should have sent in disney.

Anonymous said...

So, seeing as I was named after the Little Mermaid herself and also:

a) Am a swimmer
b) Have red(ish) hair

is it wrong to actually like that dress?

MizzJ said...

haha I totally agree, what about some sexy hot mermen?! I think if you're suspecting Disney of some secret plot to indoctrinate young girls, then you also probably have a deep-rooted hatred of Barbies and think skirts are a plot by men to subjugate women! Lighten up a bit people. I loved Little Mermaid when I was kid to the point where I could literally quote the entire film. Ariel is an independent woman here going after her dreams against her entire family's wishes! Throughout the movie they reinforce how headstrong she is; hardly the subjugated wilting female, no?

p.s. Yeah Sebastian totally steals the show!

bluexy said...

This post reminded me of in high school when you and Rachel made me a "The Rory Page." Do you recall that?

It's still on my wall, and when you mentioned The Little Mermaid I was able to find this almost immediately:

"Rory as the penis on the Little Mermaid Movie Case Rory"

I'm pretty sure you drew it Winona! I'm pretty sure!

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