“It will live in your heart forever!”…like heartworm
Have you ever watched a beloved classic in adulthood and found it wasn’t quite as you remember it? This happens to me more than I imagine it does your average person, as I have grown exceptionally cynical and opinionated with age.
Recently, I found myself re-watching Disney’s Peter Pan and was struck with how positively, well, 1953’s-ish it is. I was particularly taken with the portrayal of female characters in the film (I know, shocking, right?). And, I think this is still a valid conversation to have because a lot of these troubling tropes most definitely have a still substantial foothold today (and are not just fodder for the desultory diatribe of an unctuous little upstart about a 60-year old cartoon! Although, obviously, that is happening also.). (For brevity’s sake, I’ll skip the outrage over Native American stereotypes– including actually having their faces be beet-red— since the fact that old movies are often racist in a way that would be unacceptable in the present-day is kind of an obvious truism.)
It’s funny how this went unnoticed by me as an impressionable child…or frightening depending on whether you yourself currently have young children. Because children, by nature and circumstance of being children, are impressionable…and too inexperienced to recognize or be critical of things, particularly when they are inundated with noxious input from all angles…constantly. (Buck up, by the way: when I was a little girl, all I wanted to be was a pretty, pretty princess plastered in pink having a perpetual tea party while riding a unicorn that poops glitter (in other words, Lisa Frank was my God)….and I turned out alright!)
Anyways, a few interesting thoughts stand out:
1.) Female childhood is basically female adulthood, only with tiny females
So, the entire premise of the story is that children view adulthood as boring and full of responsibility so they live in a faraway land where they never have to grow up. And even the originator of the tale, J.M. Barrie, intended it to be about the selfishness, impulsiveness, and mischief of an eternal child. Yet the one female child in the whole movie (all the other females are adults; more on that later) is designated as “Mother” to the rest and spends the entire time being the sensible, reliable, reserved one and doing what’s expected of her: namely, telling stories, singing songs, making mature choices, and enforcing bedtime. Which is basically how it is in real life. Which is crap.
2.) Jealous females are capable of just about anything…as long as it doesn’t involve either logic or reason
This isn’t conjecture, by the way. Captain Hook basically says this verbatim (Actual quote: “A jealous female can be tricked into anything.”). And then it actually happens, when Hook tricks Tinkerbell into revealing Peter Pan’s secret hideout by exploiting her jealousy towards Wendy. This is actually the least sociopathic thing she does having, earlier in the story, literally tried to kill Wendy by getting the Lost Boys to shoot her down as she arrives in Neverland. Like a female.
Then when Peter takes Wendy to see Mermaid Cove and the mermaids discover he’s brought a girl with him, the brazen hussies try to drown her. For real. “We were only trying to drown her,” one of them coos innocently. Peter, of course, finds this just hilarious: “They’re only having fun,” he says, condescendingly dismissing Wendy’s hysterical female desire to, you know, live, when she tries to defend herself with a seashell. Wendy herself is, of course, not immune to “bitches be crazy”-itis either. After Peter rescues Tiger Lily and they start dancing together at the Indian camp, Wendy storms off furiously and that’s when she decides it’s time for them all to go home. And never once does it occur to any of them to perhaps hold the flippant, disdainful, self-absorbed brat who put them in this position accountable for any of it! Mind you, this, all of this, all manages to take place inside of a little over an hour; it’s like Jerry Springer…only with more fairy dust.
3.) And did I mention all this shrieking, scratching, and hair-pulling (and attempted murder) are for the affections of a (~)10-year old child
And an unruly, impudent little shit at that. And aside from Wendy and the Indian chief’s daughter Tiger Lily, all the other females are, in fact, adult women. Fairies and mermaids perhaps, but women all the same. Rather, um, developed women actually, sometimes with only a well-placed lock of hair to conceal that. All of them pine sighingly (and spew venom at one another) over an ego-maniacal minor. If you don’t think that’s creepily sexual (or that I’m sexualizing something innocent- “This is for children! You’re injecting a sexual component through your adult perception!”), switch the genders of the child and the adults. I rest my case.
4.) And, although a little off-topic, there are never any unattractive women…unless the purpose of the unattractive woman to the plotline is that she IS unattractive.
Like, take the weirdo-looking kids up there ↑. You never see a female character just look weird for no reason. When a female character looks weird, she’s usually grotesquely fat and ugly and is chasing some poor, frightened male. You see, it’s hilarious because she’s disgusting and doesn’t know it! Ha, she actually has the gall to feel alright about the way she looks; I’d be offended if it weren’t so funny! Hahahahahaha…awwwww! No one gets similarly repulsed when Captain Hook’s weird angles saunter into scene, or by the Darling children’s goofy-looking dad (with smoking hot wife, naturally!), not to mention obsequious Mr. Smee! Because they’re attractiveness isn’t tied into who they are as a character; it’s not expected of them. Of course, this is a crazy rampant problem in media and, well, life, and this little cartoon is hardly the worst offender. In other words, I’m not going to get anymore into it. I’ll just get pissy. And that’s no way to end a post!
In fact, I know precisely how to end this on a high note…
Still adorable: The croc who swallowed the clock, with his rhythmically twitching eyes and tail as he licks his chomps in anticipation of devouring a human being. I’m sorry, that is just delightful.