Friday, November 19, 2010

Advice From A Cartoon Princess: Snow White

Disney has long been a hot mess and so the Second City videos that have been appearing on youtube really hit the spot with me.  It is extremely important to analyze the princess movies because they are targeted at children.  Many of the messages that we send to children that we construct as innocuous, are often loaded with racism, sexism, transphobia, homophobia, fat phobia etc., The desire to preserve these isms is not natural to children and in fact, it is adults who teach them what bodies are meant to be uplifted and praised.  When kids act out  in harmful ways, we excuse this as simply being a part of childhood, rather than acknowledging that it is a manifestation of their ability to internalize the harmful hierarchy of bodies that we have internalized.  A parent that seeks to flout this convention must fight big corporations like Disney and it is always an uphill battle.  Truly celebrating diversity is not seen as marketable and so corporations use this as a defense to support the harmful tropes that they regularly aim at children.  The market is what rules and not what is socially and ethically responsible.  It is impossible for children to navigate the minefield that we have set up for them without role models that are determined to flout convention.  I hope the series of videos encourages adults to talk to the children in their lives because this is the only way we are ever going to achieve any kind of progress. 




Transcript

I live with seven men; it's totally platonic. If you're wandering alone, you should walk into the first house that looks open -- especially if it looks like other strange men live there.  Remember girls, a bed is a bed, you don't need to know whose it is to sleep in it. Cook, clean, men.  If you need to clean a kitchen, invite in rabid animals to help you.  They can do things like lick plates. I do not have a hard time talking to animals, mostly I just  sing.  It's really fun to give your friends nicknames on their most obvious features, much like a frat house would. Sneezy actually has a very server medical problem, Dopey is a pot head and a big dumb ass.  Older women when they're ugly are very trustworthy, but when they're pretty, watch out they're evil.  I would rather die waiting for a gorgeous prince charming than to settle for a  guy that's small.  Guy's aren't supposed to be short, that's funny.  I like mirrors so much, I let other people watch me through them.  It's important to be fair, you have to be the fairest.  If you go outside and get a little sun stop it, you need to be fair.  You know you've made it as the prettiest person when everyone around you wants to kill you - fair fair fairest, White, White, Whitest. Don't ever eat fruit, that shit is so bad for you.

I suspect we will have the usual naysayers show up to defend Disney, using the it's just a cartoon defense.  I think that it is really rather telling, that Snow White is the first full length Disney movie, because it has set the tone for everything that has followed.  Disney thrives on errasure and being the fairest of the fair, is not something little girls of colour can ever be.  I suppose we could say that it is a product of its times, except that people of colour, socially aware women, lesbians, disabled people, fat people, little people, etc., all existed when this movie was made.  Marginalized bodies didn't matter then and they continue to matter little when the project is about maintaining hierarchy rather than promoting equality.