17 February 2014

Disney's Tangled Values


Is it just me or is Disney going through a bit of a change? Having not seen a new animated Disney film for some time I wandered down to the cinema at Christmas to see Frozen. Turns out I really liked it. What I thought would be about a goofy snowman and a disabled moose was actually a classic-feeling Disney movie about princesses, power and how kindness prevails. As the film ended I felt happy and good about myself. The joy of seeing Frozen was as though I'd just slipped a happy pill under my eye and it'd dissolved straight into my bloodstream. Then I left the cinema and reality rushed back in, hitting me like a tidal wave of shit. I remembered that despite what Disney says the world is a horrible place and it is filled to the brim with horrible cunts. However, like a junkie looking for the next fix I decided that I wanted to see Tangled. I'd read reviews for Frozen and from what I could gather both films were critically well received but with the general consensus being that Tangled was the better of the two. For those who don't know Tangled is basically an adaptation of the classic fairytale Rapunzel but as filtered through the bollock-stained spectacles of Uncle Walt. Last night I managed to get around to seeing it for myself and to be honest... it was really good.

So to summarise Tangled... There's a magical healing flower that an old hag uses to keep herself youthful with by treating it to a wonderful singsong. This is despite not visibly doing anything interesting with the extra life she clings to... kind of like my nan. However one day a pregnant queen starts to die and so the flower is found, taken and turned into soup to save her. The result is that Rapunzel, her new born-baby has the plants healing abilities in her hair because... well because she just does. As the power is lost if the hair is cut, the old hag decides simply to just steal the baby which she somehow actually manages. A huge hunt for the child then takes place although to be honest, kidnapping isn't that easy. I'm almost of the opinion that if you can take something as heavily protected as a royal baby then fair play... call the hunt off. You've actually earned what you took! Anyway, the princess is kept hidden away in a tower where every so often the old hag sings to her hair which has now grown a hell of a lot! For eighteen years the girl is kept hidden before being accidentally found by a thief who she blackmails into taking her outside and on an adventure. So basically this is kind of like a Disney adaptation of the Fritzl story but with more slapstick hijinks and less new born babies being tossed into a furnace.

"Up my bum or not at all".
A lot of people seem to think that this film is a metaphor for a young girl losing her virginity and I don't think they're wrong. The way Rapunzel blackmails the thief is by hiding the crown that he's stolen, however after the two seem to fall in love she's worried that the moment she gives the loot back he'll disappear. So I guess people see the crown as being symbolic of her royal vagina with her worry being that his affection for her being faked just so he can get get to it. I can see why people would read the film that way but for me Tangled is also about something else... the pension crisis! I'm assuming everybody knows what that is but for the sake of padding the blog out I'll explain. Basically old people are refusing to die at the moment meaning that we've got to fund the pensions of more biddies than ever before. As a result, we younger people will be working until we drop as our own retirement age is pushed increasingly further away thanks to the strain on our already limited resources. Tangled is about an old woman whose refusal to die comes at the expense of a young girl who has sacrificed her own freedom for it, which sounds like the pension crisis to me!

Speaking of the villain, is it just me or does she look a hell of a lot like Cher? And now that I think about it, Cher too is obsessed with retaining a youthful appearance! I guess the difference is though that the woman in Tangled can use magic to preserve her complexion whereas poor old Cher has to staple back her skin and inject bits of her arse into her face. As a villain though, I really liked the Hag with her attempts at hiding the outside world to the Princess through half arsed expressions of fake love being quite amusing. I myself actually have a stepmum and so can more than relate to forced affection being a mask for sheer murderous contempt. Having said that it doesn't seem to take much to keep the girl locked up in the tower happy because for the most part she seems to be having a great time. Rapunzel frolics about her small room, whipping her hair about like a swing and talking to her Pascal the friendly chameleon with nothing but joy. Again speaking from experience if only the girl had also had things to play with like an Xbox or a dick perhaps then she'd have never wanted to leave her room at all.

It's odd really to see this and Frozen because like most humans I grew up on Disney films and yet haven't seen any in years. There's something nice to know that they're still kind of making the same sort of thing but updated for each generation. In the way that Aladdin feels like it was made in the 90's this too feels like a film from the 10's. I'm not sure why though... I'm guessing that the clue is in each decades updated style of animation and new characters that cater to the state of society. The female characters get more independent and feistier and the male characters get more insecure and emotional. Take the lead male here for example who seems to be riddled with a kind of contemporary cynicism to the point where his character traits are just an invention to hide his true self. In the past we could probably have taken his heroic bollocks at face value with him seeing the error of his ways as the story progressed. Here however everything about him is fake from his name to his smoulder as though his entire persona is metaphorical of the bullshit lives that we all fake on Facebook.

People accuse Disney of encouraging the idea of gender stereotypes which of course they do with their portrayal of princes and princesses reinforcing the clichés and presenting them to children. However surely if the world wants to be more androgynous then these two characters must be a slow step in the right direction? The only reason that the thief here acts how he does is because he's playing up to the image of masculinity that's thrust upon us and not because he's promoting it. There was some controversy with this film because it changed its title from Rapunzel to Tangled which some considered sexist. In Disney's defence though, they couldn't give a solitary fuck about being our moral compass if it comes at the cost of making a profit. They worried that by keeping the princesses name as a title it would put young boys off from wanting to see the film as had been the case with their previous effort The Princess and The Frog. I understand the dilemma but to me it seems like more of a vicious circle than a deliberate ploy. Disney only want to give the public what they want which will only serve to worsen the issue. If people stop paying then Disney will change their attitudes too and that's really all there is too it.

I understand that for some people gender stereotypes are a problem but for me personally there are a few other things that Disney movies do to infect my brain with even worse anger-lice than that. They are:-

  1. The way they reinforce the idea of happy endings. It's not that I don't believe in happy endings it's just that in reality they only ever occur at the end of a particularly wanky massage. Other than that, most lives consist of lies, loneliness and a sad, depressing death.

  1. The way they romanticise the idea of romance. The trouble I've had in the past because some girls believe in the idea of 'true love' and 'soul mates' has resulted in a bald patch on the chest hair above where my heart should be. I'm sure some guys have also been deluded by this heart shaped disease of the mind but as of yet I've not tried to pull them for it to be my problem. I just don't want you thinking that I think only women can fall for all that lovey-dovey bollocks. 

  1. The constant obsession with personifying animals. I am a fussy fucking eater as it is and I really hate vegetables and yet Disney keeps making my meals seem cute when they were alive. It's not that they're wrong about this by the way but it still makes me feel really fucking guilty every time I eat something that could once have been a main character in one of their films.

"I got you Babe".
Well spoiler alert from this point on... Tangled did have an annoyingly happy ending. Which was a huge shame because it was all going so well. The film started like American Beauty with the thief providing a voice over in which he explained that this story would end with his death. However rather than being shot in the fucking head by a confused gay guy he instead got the shit stabbed out of him by the old hag. Sadly though he didn't stay dead as Rapunzel's healing powers turned out to be more powerful than had previously been realised. Just when it looked like Disney was about to show some balls by having its lead male knifed to death it retracts them back in and pussies the hell out. By doing this it also continued to romanticise the idea of romance because her extra powers were only revealed when her love caused her to cry magical tears. I should mention that her hair had been cut at this point and so the idea of him being permanently dead seemed even more tantalisingly possible. I know that Disney couldn't explore the question of whether or not her remaining pubes where equally as magically but the tears were still fucking annoying. The two then got married and took over the kingdom without a single person wondering... if he'd died and then come back to life does that not make him a fucking zombie?

As for the personification of animals well that's also definitely true of Tangled too however in this films case it's a chameleon and a horse that have been humanized which is fine. I don't eat chameleons and I only ever eat horse when I'm buying cheap sausages from some dodgy supermarket and unknown to me they've blended a few up and chucked them in for fun. What was interesting I thought though with the horse is that like the reindeer from Frozen it also seems to have been cross bred with a dog. I don't know why they've done this but in both films cases the result was enjoyable amusing. However here if the horse is one third horse and one third dog then it's also seems to be one third Jim Carrey. Watch the things erratic, determined and spontaneous movements and you'll swear it must be the result of Ace Venture once having entered a horse in something... and I don't mean in race!! I mean its vagina as he fucked it...

At the end of the day though Tangled was still a really enjoyable film. Like I said, it's nothing too new but I suppose Disney's animated movies are a bit like the Bond franchise. They've got a formula to stick to with, the only challenge being to update it for each decade and ultimately just make a great new film. I think that on the face of it, Tangled was probably a better movie however I think personally I probably did prefer Frozen. The two are quite similar with Tangled having come first but of the three issues that piss me off, Frozen was the most subversive and particularly regarding the issue of 'true love'. In the last five years Disney has given us a black princess, less clichéd role models and in Frozen's case the idea that the love between a man and a woman isn't the be all and end all. Considering that these films do brainwash our children from an early age, this movement towards a less archetypal world is surely a good thing? Whether Disney is the chicken or the egg, its progress might be slow but it is happening and so long as they keep making great and classic films then I really can't complain. Well- I can complain obviously as the previous 2000 words have proven but you get my point.... Now erm... well thanks for reading and err... fuck off!

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