Letter from the Mint editor: Disney daze

JENNIFER LADWIG, Evergreen mint editor

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Much to the dismay of my adviser and boss, Mint will tackle a small portion of the wonderful world of Disney this week.

I remember watching Disney movies way back when I was a little kid. I can recall watching “The Emperor’s New Groove” with my sister and loving Kronk. I can look back to my time spent watching “Tarzan” and being so sad when Kerchak died.

Disney and Pixar create magical movies, and they made a magical park to go along with those films and shows. However, it was not until I got older that I realized how strong of a childlike affection I had for these animated movies. I love the emotions they convey, the songs, the color and the adult humor.

So yes, I’m one of those crazy old people who watches kid’s movies. And the obsession doesn’t end there, I even love the fairytales the stories are based on. I am all about those classic children’s’ books and tall tales.

Although every Disney movie has a special place in my heart, “Beauty and the Beast” has long been my favorite. I love how strong Belle’s character is. I love seeing the raw emotions the Beast feels. I know the songs by heart, and it’s a tradition for me to watch the animated movie every time I come home from WSU.

You could say I was ecstatic when I found out Disney was remaking the movie – it was the perfect excuse for me to devote an edition of Mint to the wonderful world of Disney.

However, I am not totally blinded by the beauty not to see some of the issues in Disney movies. “Dumbo” is horribly racist, with one of the characters even called Jim Crow. “Sleeping Beauty” features one of the weakest female leads ever, with Aurora wanting nothing more than a prince she just met. Speaking of, Ariel in “The Little Mermaid” defies her dad, and says she loves Prince Eric when she’s only 16 and saw him once without even talking to him.

These are not great qualities to teach our kids, right? So in that way, I totally agree that Disney movies, at least the older films, are not always appropriate for younger audiences.

But, with a historical view, these films are fascinating. “Dumbo” came out in 1941, so it’s not too surprising that Disney would make a character named after the Jim Crow Laws, as it was still a major part of the society.

Then there are movies like “Cinderella,” “Snow White” and “Sleeping Beauty,” where the heroines have to be saved by the prince, and the happy ending is a marriage. But considering these movies came out between 1937 and 1959, it’s natural to have the female as the fair, dainty damsel in distress, because those were the stereotypical gender roles of the time.

What I’m trying to say is, Disney has some questionable messages, and you have every right to not want to brainwash your five-year-old daughter with images of weak women fainting and relying on a man. But to each their own, right?

This week’s Mint is simply an excuse for a Disney lover to explore the topic – both the beautiful and the ugly of a staple in today’s youth.

Along with pieces looking at research done on Disney stereotypes and commentary on gender roles, we’ve also tackled a satirical look at how WSU officials fit into the Disney realm.

If Disney isn’t your cup of tea, I respect your opinion – but it’s just wrong. Go forth, young Disney lovers and haters. Pick your cinematic poison and slay.

Jennifer Ladwig is a senior communication major from Washougal. She can be contacted at [email protected]