Disney, one of the most distinguishable and influential brands in the western world, it is for many a gracious and nurturing part of their childhood that has cultivated communities of youth through to adolescence. Disney is nostalgia, and still a childhood staple for the masses.
There’s been an acceleration of scrutiny surrounding previous Disney films, and that the nature of the productions have given unrealistic expectations to children about relationships in their adulthood. We all can distinctly remember the classic Prince Charming who whisks an unsuspecting Princess away, and they live happily ever after.
It has come to my attention, although debatable, that Disney has taken a fresher advance to its new female leads and plots. The story lines seem to be sending out strong messages in regards to relationships with family and friends, and how true love and happiness does not always lie in a martial partnership.
I want to explore this vast change and add examples on how Disney is truly becoming a brand for its time. It’s makes the ambiance of the future more exciting when we observe the current younger generation engaging in such modernized fairy tales. The aspect of it delivers elation and curiosity of how their expectations, views and relationships may form in the coming years due to this small but considerable step.
It may seem ridiculous that this is even entertained, to which a spattering of animations and live action productions from Disney can really change the course of a generation. Maybe it is, but I subjectively believe that certain obsessions and admiration’s as a child can pave the way for coming judgments and conclusions in their forthcoming years.
Fortunately in previous years, the expectations and discrimination of women have changed and progressed. Women have now found freedoms of choice that our predecessors were stripped of. From this relationships and social order have evolved, so the film industry needed to keep up with its audience.
A time has come where society wants to feel more empowered by themselves than be valued by others, many no longer feel the need to be rescued. So how did Disney do it, with the majority of their fairy tales being based around a man of high stature helping and saving a vulnerable female? Examples can be found in Cinderella (1950), Snow White (1937) The Little Mermaid (1989), Pocahontas ( 1995), Aladdin (1992) and Sleeping Beauty (1959).
I’m not however suggesting that this was the only concept Disney used, as none of the productions mentioned above are original ideas from Disney, but in fact ancient tales bought to life through modern animation. This however backs up the argument of Disney using out dated expectations of relationships and social order.
I first remarked a change when I observed the live action Disney film Maleficent (2014). Based roughly on the tale of Sleeping Beauty the production paved its way towards the classic ending we all recognize. Under the curse of Maleficent, Aurora (Sleeping Beauty) on her sixteenth birthday, will prick her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel and fall into a deep sleep, from which she will never awaken, unless awoken by true loves kiss. The plot leads the audience to believe that it’s the Prince’s kiss that will awake her, but in a compelling curve, the Prince is powerless in his efforts to do so.
For those who have not witnessed this film, prior to aura’s curse taking hold, Maleficent became quite enamored by Aurora. When Maleficent kisses aurora in a fit of despair, believing all hope of her returning has gone due to her own malevolence, Aurora unexpectedly awakes.
Maleficent’s devotion for Aurora is the example of a contrasting type of true love that I’m assuming Disney wanted to highlight. It sends an affirmative, realistic and empowering message to both men and women. It suggests that we do not need to be saved in order to be valued by another, that love sometimes does not happen instantaneously, but most importantly that ‘true love’ can lie within ANY relationship, whether it be a friend, a sister, brother, mother, father or grandparent.
Another example of this can be seen in the incredibly successful Disney film Frozen (2013). True loves kiss was found in the female leads sister rather than her Prince Charming. It also shed light again on the possibility of true love not existing in a new relationship. It feels as though Disney are progressively trying to speak out to the younger generation, stating that a partnership through life does not and should not define you. Or maybe they are just allowing more modernized ideas to break through the mold?
Interestingly as great as it seems, that Disney are devolving such realistic ideals within their stories for the modern audience, I can’t help but wonder, are they taking the romance and fantasy out of the fairy tale?