It finally happened today. I met someone who doesn’t watch Disney movies. No, wait, it’s not that she didn’t watch the movies; she said she didn’t like them.
I will first say that I am not one to overreact. I do not cry without reason and often question whether my absence of emotion at times can be read as cold. However, today I was honestly up in arms over the subject of Beauty and the Beast. I’m not sure how the conversation even arrived at that point, but we were discussing animated movies. This particular movie, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, was offered as a paragon of music, fable and comedy for a young person, like myself, who grew up in the 90s. My peer, who shall remain nameless, did not like it. I asked if she maybe hates musicals (I think not) or if perhaps she just didn’t understand the complexity she witnessed. She says it was a while ago and may return to the movie and judge it again, with new, more adult eyes. I appreciated this but had to examine my own reactions. Why was I so affected? I mean, everyone loves Disney. Even the people who hate the behemoth find some quality about it that is admirable (the park, its embrace of technology, etc.). It’s basically the Google of animation. You loathe all that it stands for (and could overtake in the future) but see that it is a necessary evil.
But I am far from dealing with Disney. I am apparently an outright defender. I mean, I practically jumped down her throat about it. Even now I’m writing a post entirely dedicated to the thought. When did this happen? When did I become that girl, who so ardently holds to something that could care less about me? Disney won’t pay my loans or make sure my newest romance doesn’t break my heart. Why does it matter so much?
Like all things, my only explanation must start in childhood. I watched Beauty and the Beast more times than I can count between the ages of 7 and 10. My mother, God Bless Her, seemed to purchase little else but Disney on VHS in my youth. No, I never went to Disneyland. Not World either. Hell, I never even received that Jasmine Barbie I had my eye on for months. In my feeble mind, the movie was enough. Enough to make me sit still for hours at a time with my sister and cousin in the dark recesses of our apartment in Chicago. Enough to inspire long walks with my 7th Grade BFF Evanne with accompanying songs (all from the soundtrack, of course). And, quite enough to have an outburst at my job training over one girl’s opinion of the Beast that surprised even me. Yes, my love developed early. Somewhere along the way, this love became the long lost sort. It is now never-ending; an eternal reminder of what a non offensive, non-sexualized cartoon can do to a person who loves music, dancing objects and wants to believe in magic.
I’ll probably always feel this way about Disney. Yeah, I know Disney was a Southerner who had extremely racist beginnings that were reflected in his work. And yes, I know they are evil in about a trillion other ways (Kimba the Lion
is clearly the Lion King looks super familiar…) but I can’t let go. These movies are mental reminders of a younger, more impressionable me. The girl who was having a good day if they served pizza for lunch or her crush sat right next to her at lunch (God, he even talked to me!). Yeah, I need that girl somewhere near my current cynical self. She’ll keep singing “Be Out Guest” and I’ll just continue to hum along.