Monday, February 4, 2013

Social Status Movement in Disney Films

Disney movies, usually fairytales, tend to follow a certain cliche theme. Boy saves girl. This is an overly simplistic explanation for boy, in a higher position than girl, falls in love with girl and brings her to his level through marriage, thus elevating her social/financial status and saving her from her previous position.  Think about a well-known Disney fairytale adaption and it probably goes this way.  I outlined the ones I could think of and whatever trend it follows below.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarves: Prince saves Snow from her curse and through love from her recent peasant status.
Bambi: Could be argued, Bambi is Prince of the Forest and Faline becomes forest royalty (raised status) when she bears his fawns.
Cinderella: Prince saves Cinderella from an abusive home and a low status when they fall in love and he marries her.
Lady in the Tramp: (Opposite!) Lady saves Tramp from a life on the streets when they fall in love and her owners adopt him into their big fancy home.
Sleeping Beauty: Prince Philip saves Aurora from Maleficent's spell and although she is rightfully a princess, when they first fall in love she is living a peasant life. They both remain royalty.
The Little Mermaid: (Tricky) Prince Eric saves Ariel from Ursula but she goes from princess of the seas to human princess. Elevated status in her eyes but technically a horizontal move.
Beauty and the Beast: Beast saves Belle and through love the spell is broken. She is saved from her peasant life and becomes a princess.
Aladdin: (Opposite!) Jasmine saves Aladdin from his street rat life, but after he saves her from Jafar.  His status is improved through love.
The Lion King: (Tricky) Nala becomes queen of the Pridelands through Simba (they are betrothed). However, she is not queen until Simba returns and saves their home. We don't really know if she would have ever become queen otherwise.
The Princess and the Frog: Naveen rescues Tiana from her life as a poor waitress struggling to save for her own restaurant, and through love she becomes a princess.
Tangled: (Opposite!): After Rapunzel and Flynn fall in love she discovers she is the lost princess and they get married, saving him from his thieving lower status.
*Wreck-It Ralph: A helpful reader reminded me that boy and girl save each other. Although not through falling in love, both Ralph and Vanellope rise in their respective social statuses with the help of the other.

Also, I only found three movies that followed the opposite trend: girl saves boy.  Meaning, through love the girl in the higher position brings the boy to her status level.  I could only think of three: Lady and the Tramp, Aladdin, and Tangled.

Can you think of any other Disney movies I missed that follow either the common or opposite trend? Some were so tricky I left them off altogether but if you can give me a convincing argument I'd love to hear it!

1 comment:

  1. Great Post, it's crazy to think there's only three films where girl saves boy... although I suppose Princess and the Frog is kinda a bit of both. You notice that shift so much more in the newer films x