OPINION: We can't right movie wrongs, but we don't have to celebrate them
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Art exists to start conversations. Films and TV aren’t created to be screened and forgotten, but to discuss and dissect.
This week, Disneyland in California proudly unveiled its multi-million-dollar Snow White ride based on the 1938 fairy tale to a 2021 audience.
Its creators must have been under a stone for the last few years not to anticipate an outcry when they showcased a young woman being kissed in her sleep, a la the antiquated fairy tale.
Critics have slated the unconsented kiss.
“A kiss he gives to her without her consent, while she’s asleep, which cannot possibly be true love if only one person knows it’s happening.
Haven’t we already agreed that consent in early Disney movies is a major issue? That teaching kids that kissing, when it hasn’t been established if both parties are willing to engage, is not OK?” said one tweet.
Anaheim Disneyland is a few miles from Hollywood. They could practically hear the #metoo campaign escalating. Uncomfortable and bemusing why they have stuck fast to the original.
Did the consent issue really escape Disney?
Another tweet said: “It’s hard to understand why the Disneyland of 2021 would choose to add a scene with such old-fashioned ideas of what a man is allowed to do to a woman, especially given the company’s current emphasis on removing problematic scenes from rides like Jungle Cruise and Splash Mountain.
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“Why not re-imagine an ending in keeping with the spirit of the movie?”
Or did it keep to the script to spark the debate, scoop up the publicity and reinforce it’s not a Disney responsibility to discuss boundaries with children, it’s a parent’s.
After all Shakespeare hasn’t been rewritten to take out the bits we balk at today.
No one can stand by what the prince is doing is right. It’s a matter for explanation to children about how times have changed and why they have changed. By people making a stand and speaking out.
I was never a Disney fan. All those saccharin fairy tales about young women waiting for their handsome princes to come and make everything happily every after. Yuck.
Admittedly, Disney has got with the plot in later years with sassy strong girls doing their own thing, but its old stuff is so outdated.
Thankfully, my sons weren’t enamoured either, so I never had to suffer the films.
This isn’t about ‘wokeness’ or cancel culture, it’s about what we want for our children and the messages they need to take into life.
We rightly tell our small sons and daughters not to let anyone touch them without them giving consent, reinforcing that their body is their property. They’re entitled to their space and no one has any business touching, holding or kissing them without their agreement.
Without their consent, it is invasion of their personal space, force even, and that invasion or force needs to be reported to an adult.
So, no wonder seeing a prince leaning over a sleeping woman and planting a kiss on her lips at a global attraction is problematic to say the least and cannot be ignored without comment.
When the 1978 film Grease was screened again recently many of us who were so excited to queue up outside cinemas to watch it as teenagers, were horror-struck by its messaging in the cold light of 2021 – sexist, 'rapey' homophobic and racist. Watched through the lens of 2021, it’s horrific.
And our teenagers today watching it immediately see those awful clangers, cringe and sympathise us for us growing up in that world.
Its story of how to ‘get their man’, women must succumb to their advances and change their entire personality and appearance, showing Sandy ripping up her dirndl skirts and Alice bands and squeezing into leather skinnies and an off the shoulder top topped with a frizzy perm.
The Summer Nights lyrics of “did she put up a fight?”, Danny trying it on with Sandy at the drive-in movie scene, her bullied for her virginity and Rizzo for her sexual activity and how Sandy changed herself to find romantic happiness, is all so outdated and outrageous.
What these messages tell us is that we should celebrate how far we have come.
As another tweet about Disney said: "People fought for society to be change so movies are now done with more blacks, gays, and powerful women but in the 70s life was different. If you can’t separate the two and realise the difference of life and the evolution people did, I really don’t know what to say!!"
It's a triumph rather than a backward step that this anachronism situation has been recognised, called out and debated.
Different times and different mores.
When little girls and boys point at the prince leaning over Snow White and say “why is he doing that, that’s wrong?” is when we should celebrate.