Monday, August 26, 2013

Blaming Disney

We hear plenty of talk--both joking and otherwise--blaming Disney and its poor princesses for our generation's unrealistic expectations of romance, beauty, gender roles etc. etc.

Personally, I've decided to start blaming Disney for something else entirely . . . this.

Do you know who that is? That is Dinah, Alice's charming little orange kitten from Alice in Wonderland, her faithful companion and confidant, who appears only for a few moments at the beginning and again at the end of the film.

And who changed my world and expectations forever!

This summer, my Rohan and I read Lewis Carrol's ridiculous and wonderful Alice books out loud together, and sometime during the midst of the first novel, Rohan confessed that he'd never seen the Disney movie. Well, when I was growing up, do you think my obsession was with Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Ariel, or any of the other lovely princesses in the Disney canon?

Nope. I was obsessed with Dinah the cat. I begged to watch Alice in Wonderland every single day, purely because I wanted to enjoy the delightful relationship shared between Alice and her kitten, and I would spend the bulk of the movie fantasizing over how much more interesting it all would be had Dinah happened to fall down the rabbit hole along with Alice. When the film credits rolled, I would go on with my day, pretending that I had my own invisible Dinah keeping me company wherever I went, and promising myself that, when I grew up, I would have as many cats as I wanted.

So yesterday, Rohan and I watched my childhood favorite together, and I was just as charmed by it as I was when I was small. Yes, it's bizarre. Well, bizarre kind of suits me!

And I turned to Rohan and said, "Do you want to know the source of my crazy-cat-lady-ness?"

And you know, I drink a lot of tea, and I do invent my own worlds . . . so while I may have watched for Dinah, a lot of other things probably sank in as well.
Thus, while sitting here with Magrat Fat Cat in my lap this morning, I thought I'd share with all of you. Did you watch Disney movies growing up? Which ones are your favorites? Do you think they influenced you, either for good or ill?


Unknown said...

Disney movies were pretty much the only movies I watched growing up! I remember being so excited when a new one would release; "Tarzan" was the first one I ever saw in theatres, and when "Mulan" was released on VHS, I'd been bugging and bugging my dad about it for so long that guess what just happened to show up at our house? My sister and I went nuts, popped it into the VCR, and watched it right away.

And later on, I went to see both "The Princess and the Frog" and "Tangled" twice in the theatres.

So my favourites have got to be "Beauty and the Beast", "Tarzan", "Mulan", and "Tangled".

And when "Winnie the Pooh" was re-released a few years ago *coughcough* my sister and I were on our spring break, with nothing to do. So guess who went to the movie theatre with all the little toddlers? *no shame*

I'm a huge Disney nut, lol, and I'm already bouncing out of my seat in anticipation for "Frozen" this November.

I think Disney movies influenced me for good. They were a pocket of light in the world, where good guys won, but they didn't talk down to children. Rewatching some of the movies, I was surprised by how dark they were; yet they'd never really frightened me as a child. So I commend Disney for creating such stories--stories that reflect both the reality of sorrow in this life, but also a reality where light trumps darkness, a reality that goes so much further than 'simple' movie.

Brandi Boddie said...

I enjoyed "Sleeping Beauty", "Pocahontas", and "Hunchback of Notre Dame". Maybe I shouldn't share this, but when I was in second grade, I decorated a trash bag and "transformed" it into a fishtail so I could be like Ariel the Little Mermaid, lol!

Clara said...

I always wanted Dinah to be in Alice more as well! The beginning and the end of the movie was always my favorite...the rest scared me to death when I was little! But of course...I love the Mad Hatter and the whole tea party scene. Who couldn't love it?

Disney movies have DEFINITELY influenced me and my writing! Phillip in Sleeping Beauty was always my favorite Prince...he had personality (unlike Cinderella's Prince) he was brave, and quite handsome to me:)And so, I love a good, brave Prince with personality in my stories...and he always ends up looking like Prince Phillip! My love for dragons came from Sleeping Beauty as well. The Huntchback of Notre Dame and Beauty and the Beast influenced me for the deformed characters. Nothing stirrs me in a movie or book like a misunderstood character.

Unknown said...

Ah, Disney's Robin Hood has always been and probably always will be one of my favorites.

Nothing like a good dashing outlaw to save the day ... hmm, I wonder if that's why outlaws tend to be a recurring theme in some of my novels?

Hannah said...

Weeee! Here is one thing that I love to blame Disney for! While I've never watched Alice in Wonderland all the way through (just too bizarre for me, *snicker*), I adore Disney movies. And still do. As a matter of fact, I feel some Disney movies are more directed to those coming of age then little kids (most recently Brave).

I love Tangled, Mulan (one of the best girl movies out there!), Peter Pan (this was my childhood classic. I adored Peter Pan!), and Robin Hood, (another childhood classic. That clever and charming fox had to the start of some standards for literary heroes of mine!) And of course, I love Beauty and the Beast, though the appreciation for that movie has developed more recently. :)

Hannah said...

Gillain: Hooray! I barely ever hear anyone mention Robin Hood and it's one of the best animated movies of all!

Hannah said...

Beka: I just looked up Frozen. Now I'm dying for it to come out! Sounds completely awesome. The snowman kind of threw me off at first, before I discovered the story! Gasp! A remake of The Snow Queen! What will they do next? The Twelve Dancing Princesses?

Bookishqueen said...

I loved Tarzan, Mulan, and newly Tangled. A couple months ago, I wrote an essay on what Disney had taught me (at least some of the things- there are a lot more). It was really long and I wrote it in response to someone complaining about the morals of Disney in a video, so it never got a second draft.

Disney has influenced my writing (not mentioned in the essay). I take the courage of the heroines and the torn nature of the heroes in many of the things I write.

Kay J. Fields said...

I, too, am waiting in great anticipation for Frozen to come out--one of my favorite fairytales. And, yes, I adore Robin Hood--the Imagineer who came up with the idea of making Robin a fox was brilliant.

I've never been an Alice fan, and have only seen the movie once--although I'm interested in seeing the recent live-action movie by the same name. I never read the books when I was little, and only just recently read them. Through the Looking Glass was better--mostly because there was a POINT to it, if still a strange one; there was a goal. I like whimsical and strange, but not if it's just floating out there with no reason. XD

I don't think Disney has gotten everything right, but they are wonderful and I grew up with them. The musicals were always my favorites. If I ever watch them with my own children, I'll probably stop and explain some things to them when the movie is over based on the content of the film, but that won't stop me from loving the movies!

You are never too old for Disney, right?

Anonymous said...

I always wanted to be Mulan. I've lost track of the number of times I watched "I'll Make a Man Out of You" JUST so I could watch her figure out how to climb the pole. She's a good sort of idealized princess, though; I learned perseverance and determination from her.

Anonymous said...

Beauty and the Beast has always been my favorite. I once wrote in a college admissions essay that I didn't want the handsome prince so much as I wanted the library--and it's true. (I still want that library...)

Confession: I haven't ever seen Alice in Wonderland either. Or read the book.

Meredith said...

Oh, you can't go wrong with a good Disney movie. My favorites are, "Sleeping Beauty," "The Little Mermaid," "Aladdin," "The Princess and the Frog," and "Beauty and the Beast." If someone gave me a whole library of my very own, they would be mine forever! I really related to Belle because I, too, read while I walk, (a practice that has caused several mishaps)! LOL!
I blame Disney for my fascination with villains. They've really created some frightening evildoers. I realize that they can't be as violent as Grimm, so for kid movies, some of the villains are truly spooky. Mother Gothel in Tangled is one of the most manipulative villainnesses I've ever encountered in a kids movie.

I, too, love Dinah and always wished she could have traveled down the rabbit hole with Alice. My favorite parts of that movie were when Alice encounters the flowers and when the Caterpillar recites the crocodile poem.
And, Robin Hood is great! BTW, now I have the whistling tune in my head! Thanks!

Frozen sounds very intriguing. I love "The Snow Queen." God bless you all.

Clara said...

Frozen is going to be amazing. I can't wait for the music! It's about TIME someone did the Snow Queen!

And I was madly in love with Robin Hood as a little girl...yes...I though that fox was quite attractive. Still do, actually:P I also LOVE The Great Mouse Detective!

Hannah said...

Oh, I just thought of some other Disney movies I like. While they may not be my favorites, I was shocked to discover how much I liked them. Brace yourselves...

The Tinker Bell movies.

While I scoff at the idea that all animated Disney movies are KID movies, these do fall under the kid category. But they're so well done that if you really appreciate beautiful animation and clever little knick-nacks, I think you'd really enjoy them, kid or not.

Since my brother and I used to play with little figurines surviving in a large-scale world, it was a complete delight, to watch the pixies make a hot air balloon out of a dandelion puff and use a friendly cricket as the cuckoo in a cuckoo clock.

I probably enjoyed movie 3 and 4 the most. The storylines are fairly predictable, but they're sweet, humorous, and even a little touching!

Oh, and Clara. Please tell me you like the Peter Pan movie. It has the Darling family in it! Did you ever pretend you were related when you were little?

Therru Ghibli said...

Robin Hood and The Great Mouse Detective were always favorites of mine. I always loved watching the heros interact with the children. My favorite parts in Robin Hood is when he's with the rabbit family! Maybe that's why I now find it hard to write anything without incorporating at least one child. Mulan was my favorite princess, she was girly but tough and I love how her over all motivation was to save her Father. Tangled is a new favorite, I love the light hearted princess that was the first ever to have a proper response to seeing a stranger in her room! I'm also really looking forward to Frozen as the Snow Queen was a childhood favorite.

Unknown said...

Disney has definitely had influence on my writing and on my drawing!

I didn't remember Dinah the cat till you mentioned it. Instead, I associate Alice in Wonderland with the kooky Cheshire cat(only him for some reason).

Most of my favorite Disney movies feature a cat in them. The Lion King (okay, big cat technically), which was my first Disney theater movie and has one of my all-time favorite villains. The Aristocats and Oliver and Company.

I also loved Beauty and the Beast, Robin Hood, Mulan, and more recently Brave and Tangled, both of which have inspired bits of one of my current WIPs.

Joni said...

*warm fuzzies* I loved this post. And Disney. ^.^

Clara said...


LOL!!! Peter Pan is indeed another favorite of mine...I would pretend that I was part of the family and fly away with Peter...but Darling is just a nick-name. My real last name is Thompson:)

Hannah said...

Oh, LOL, Clara! I completely thought your last name was Darling! Oh, that's funny. How did you get the nick-name, if it's okay to ask?

Clara said...

I can totally understand why you would think that Darling was my last name!!! I got the nick-name from my brother-in-law and his family. I honestly don't know how it really started, but Kevin (my brother-in-law) just started calling me "Darlin'" or "Clara Darling". It stuck and everyone calls me Clara Darling now!

Christa said...

When I was 5 years old my dad took me to the movies for the first time to watch "The Lion King." I absolutely loved that movie a little kid and I can safely say that it is my favorite Disney movie of all time.
If we're gonna talk about Princess movies,"Beauty and the Beast" is my favorite in that category. Belle and I would get along pretty well, since we're both bookworms and are pretty "odd."

Melanie J said...

BAHAHahahaahaa hohohohohohoohooo

-Rolls around on the floor, laughing like an idiot-

HOO my, I'm sorry, I couldn't help it. Asking an Animator, of all things, if Disney movies influenced her.

-collapses into another fit of giggles-


Whew, anyway, to illustrate my point, I will demonstrate exactly how far down this road I am by tellin' y'all a little story...

Around the year 1990 or so, Disney was working on two campuses, the one in California, and the one in Florida. The one in Florida was smaller and would handle some animation for the other campus along with the films that the California campus was too busy for. AKA the films that wouldn't rake in as much money.

The Florida campus was also filled with new right-out-of-school animators while the California campus had seasoned veterans. So, at the time, the California campus was obsessed with this new realistically-styled historical romance called Pocahontas that was absolutely positive to be the next HUGE Disney hit.

At the same time, the Florida campus was working on some little old lion movie that might be mildly entertaining and get the company some extra cash. The Florida campus knew they were the underdogs and decided to pour their souls into this Lion movie, desiring to prove they could make something worthwhile. Pocahontas comes out in theaters and the animation itself is gorgeous, but the story is lackluster and it wasn't the hit that Disney was expecting. Then, the Florida campus releases The Lion King, still the 3rd top-grossing animated film in history. This story I heard straight from the mouth of TWO different Disney animators that worked at the Florida campus at the time.

Later, the Florida campus goes on to release films such as Mulan and Lilo and Stitch.

Additional notes include that Lion King spiritual parallels ARE intentional, according to a number of born-again animators behind it. (just try watching that film again, imagining Mufasa as the Lord and yourself as Simba, you'll know what I'm talking about.) And both directors of Mulan are also born-again believers.

Asking an animator for a favorite Disney film is like asking a child what the best candy in the world is. Though if it wasn't obvious already, my personal opinion on the best Disney film is The Lion King if, for no other reason than the fact that every time I watch it, the Lord tells me something new which usually ends with me in tears or squealing like a schoolgirl. (I don't watch it super often so to avoid becoming numb to it.)

My next favorite is probably Beauty and the Beast, which I can watch over and over and over and never tire of. Again, though, this is like asking a teenage girl to pick a SINGLE pair of shoes. Or, Anne Elisabeth, asking an animal-lover (of which I am also guilty), to go to the animal shelter and choose just ONE.

Thus, if anyone has the ridiculous amount of time to read my entire rant, now you know exactly how far gone one of us really is, and may perhaps have a story to pass on.

Blessings, everyone!

Hannah said...

Thanks for the story Melanie! I really enjoyed it! (I'm a fast reader, so it didn't take a ridiculous amount of time to read it!) :)

Unknown said...

Dinah was great, but the cat from an animated film that most made an impression on me was Figaro from Pinocchio. Boy was he the cutest kitty, ever. And his relationship with Geppetto is great.