Tuesday, June 7, 2011

My take on Tangled

Finally saw Tangled! I had only heard positive things about this movie, from the kids I babysit to adults who are way into fairy tales. I was still a little skeptical-I tend to be purist and don't like major changes to fairy tale plots. But, there's a difference between abusing a plot, and playing around with it, and I ended up really enjoying the movie. I liked the addition of the magic flower-I thought it gave an interesting and more plausible reason for why a witch would want to steal and raise someone else's baby and keep it confined to a tower.

It's silly, it's unrealistic (even aside from the whole magic hair thing), but it's lots of fun. It somehow manages to have all the stereotypical Disney Princess film elements which are sincere and yet at the same time gently poking fun at themselves.

If I were to get really picky, I would be suspicious about whether or not we can actually trust Flynn by the end of the movie. He's really a nasty person at the beginning-not only is he a theif but he abandons his partners-and the only redeeming thing he does is fall for the hot chick. But, I don't think we're supposed to take it that seriously.

One issue it made me think of-which is not only an issue in this version, but any Rapunzel story or story with evil parents-is, that children seeing this movie where Rapunzel is rightly rewarded for disobeying and escaping her manipulative false mother might think they're justified for refusing to listen to their parents as well (I'm a teacher-I can't help thinking of what's being communicated to and perceived by young people). I liked that this villain was more realistic than the traditional witch, and we've probably all met that type of person who insults you and is "just joking." That element of realism makes the story more applicable to more people, but most children at some point think that their parents are too controlling and "they won't let me do ANYthing," and seeing this movie would make it seem like any parent who denies their child anything is wrong.

But I'm not bashing this version, if there's any Disney movie that enforces horrible morals about disobeying your parents it's Little Mermaid. There's a difference between kidnapping/lying, and being strict-although that's harder for some people to discern. It's just human nature that we like to identify ourselves with the victim. Whenever I was a kid and had to do chores-perfectly fair chores-I would usually get all upset and then get secret satisfaction from comparing myself to Cinderella, although our situations were not at all the same. Likewise, it would be easy for a person to take a rule given by an authority figure and see themselves as the victim of a tyrant. In a way, that's part of the fun of fairy tales-turning minor real-life situations into games of pretend. You don't have to have been imprisoned all your life to feel understanding to Rapunzel's longing to be free.

Any thoughts/comments on the possibility of taking story applications too far? There's a story in "Cinderella: A Casebook" about a little girl in a perfectly healthy home life who accused her mother of treating her like Cinderella, I can look it up if anyone's interested.

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