This guest post was contributed by Lindsey of High Heeled Mom. Lindsey is an attorney mother of three little girls.
It’s no secret that I love me some Disney princesses. My almost-4-year-old took an interest in them a while back and I encouraged it, because, well, they’re more fun than Dora for me. I’m into ballgowns, castles, adventure, and happy endings.
I even have my very own handsome prince. (Who makes super cute kids.)
The first princess I recall taking an interest in is the above-captioned Ariel. The Little Mermaid came out when I was in my early teens and marked, of course, the renaissance of Disney animation generally and princesses specifically (though the marketing of princesses as Princesses was still a number of years off). I was quite a fan of the movie, and still am. In comparison to the old-school princesses (Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty), Ariel is… exciting. She doesn’t wait for the prince to come to her, as do the previous three. While Cinderella’s somewhat passive after the midpoint of the movie, and Sleeping Beauty and Snow White are actually ASLEEP, Ariel sees what she wants and goes out to get it. When it’s denied to her, she takes one step and then another and another to get it.
It’s really a pretty decent movie for watching. Ariel never falls asleep. She’s clever. She’s resourceful. Her friends are fun. And the music is fantastic.
And the villain is awesome. In my opinion, probably the awesomest of all Disney villains. Pet eels as sidekicks! Turns mermaids into little shrivelly things! Out to take down the king! And her song is the best.
But the problem lies in the plot. Specifically, it lies right here:
That’s right, the problem is Ariel as a daughter to her fantastic dad. (See, the picture of my cute husband above isn’t entirely irrelevant). King Triton’s presented as an antagonist through most of the movie. He stifles his daughter’s interest in the above world. He destroys her collection of human trinkets. He yells at her for going up to the surface, and wow, if he knew she was going up there with legs to man-chase, he’d be furious and probably grow his own legs out of pure fury to chase her down and get her right back.
How dare he?
I think that was probably my take on it as a teenager when I saw this movie. Pretty dresses! Sparkly beautiful ocean! True love! And a DAD SUPPRESSING A TEENAGER’S INDEPENDENT CHOICES! When you think about it, this movie’s not made for little girls, it’s made perfectly for 14-year-olds who don’t mind enjoying cartoons.
But, see, here’s the thing. Looking at it from the mom perspective, still a good movie. But Princess Ariel is absolutely atrocious.
In a nutshell, what we’re looking at is a 16-year-old who risks her life, and thoughtlessly sells out her father and her ENTIRE CIVILIZATION to chase a guy she’s met once and hasn’t even spoken to. She goes to Dad’s enemy for help. She’s willing to give up her entire family and world for just the CHANCE at a guy. She repeatedly defies Dad’s sensible rules (let’s face it, wandering around the surface doesn’t work out well for her, I’m thinking Dad knew why). It’s pretty much only by pure chance things work out well for her family.
I’ve got absolutely no clue why Dad indulges her at the end after she’s been such a completely stupid bratty teenager. Does your daughter really NEED to get married at 16 to a guy she’s still only spent about three days with, mostly non-talking?
To be sure, Dad’s got a bit of a temper and if he’d held it in check and spoken more reasonably, maybe she wouldn’t have been so rebellious, but the fact is, Dad’s right. And looking at this movie from an adult perspective, quite truthfully, the protagonist of this movie is this dude:
Also, he’s got an awesome bod.
A couple other observations on this movie:
*As awful as Ariel is, I love the movie, as noted above, and I’m thrilled it brought this genre back into style. Thanks, Disney!
*When I was young, a friend once described Ariel in this dress as a Valentine cookie. I’ve never forgotten that, as it’s one of the most apt descriptions I’ve ever heard in my life.
*Did you know that the voice of Princess Ariel was later tapped to play Belle, but they changed their mind, as they wanted Belle to be more European sounding, whatever that means?
*This is my favorite image that came up when I Google Image Searched “Ariel”:
*I feel really bad for Sebastian. The dude TRIED. Flounder and Scuttle are sort of boring.
*Prince Eric has zero personality, aside from owing a dog, which is a recurring problem in princess movies. I’d go so far as to say that the majority of love interests for the princesses don’t possess any character traits aside from “prince”.
*One of my favorite scenes is the following, as I’m obsessed with bubble baths.
What are your thoughts on everyone’s favorite redhead mermaid? Think it worked out for her and Eric? It’s not really a solid foundation for a marriage if you ask me… nothing in common, no time to build a relationship, and don’t even get me started on how the original story ended. While I give her credit for not being passive like her predecessors, it takes a while for the Disney Princess to grow into someone who’s actually a role model.
Husband picture courtesy of the fabulous Monika Dechene