07 April 2015

Frozen versus Tangled: I am super-late to this debate.

My daughter has been watching Tangled (or, as she calls it, "Baby Rapunzel") -- we had recorded it on the DVR from the Disney Channel, but it kept skipping and was super annoying so I deleted it, and then the Easter Bunny delivered her very own copy in her Easter basket.

For some reason, I flashed back to the time right after Frozen went to DVD and so all the blogging mommies watched it with their kids and HATED it, and several specifically mentioned that they overall preferred Tangled.

But it occurred to me in the shower recently that Tangled has a serious problem.

Okay, so, quick recap of what we all know: Mother Gothel kidnapped Rapunzel from her loving parents when Rapunzel was just a baby. She has been keeping Rapunzel locked in a tower so that she can make sole use of her magic hair to keep herself young, and she speaks to her with a lot of sarcasm and "jokes" that are pretty hurtful. She tells Rapunzel, "I love you," but in an insincere manner.

Because of all of those things, when Rapunzel defies Mother Gothel and leaves the tower, we forgive her.

Here's the thing, though: as adults watching a cartoon, we know that Rapunzel had been kidnapped, and was being held hostage out of selfishness, and wasn't really loved.

But Rapunzel doesn't know what we know. 

She has no idea she has been kidnapped; Rapunzel calls Mother Gothel "Mother," and she seems to genuinely love her "mother," even if she maybe suspects that Mother Gothel's love is less than perfectly sincere. This is addressed in a several-minute-long scene, after Rapunzel leaves the tower with Flynn Ryder, where she second-guesses her actions and is alternately elated to be free and consumed with guilt about not listening to the woman whom she thinks is her mother. This indicates that Rapunzel knows she's doing wrong and willfully chooses to do it anyway.

During her excursion, she meets with all manner of danger, thanks to her choice of companion. While he is ultimately redeemed, Flynn is a career criminal who has not only stolen the lost princess' crown from the palace but also has ripped off his partners-in-crime -- he doesn't even have any honor among thieves. Because he's being chased by both the palace guards and his fellow criminals, Rapunzel is subjected to various chases and at one point she's nearly drowned.

In other words, Mother Gothel was kind of right that she would have been safer in her tower.

My own mother always hated The Little Mermaid. As a kid, I assumed that it was because Ariel is dressed kind of provocatively for a children's cartoon.

{Ariel is, what, approximately 17 or so, right? THAT is some prodigious cleavage for a 17-year-old -- and I'm speaking as someone who has prodigious cleavage. Also, shouldn't she be built like a swimmer, with big old shoulders? I'm just saying.}

But now that I'm a mother myself, I get it: my mother hates The Little Mermaid because a) the cleavage, b) her mother is missing entirely and never so much as addressed, and the biggie is: c) Ariel defies her father, who only has her best interests at heart, and in the end she's not only rewarded but the message is that her father, King Triton, was wrong to try to protect her. There is a kind of danger in sheltering our kids too much, but Ariel had quite a bit of freedom in her undersea world. King Triton's refusal to let her visit the world of the humans is probably on a par with not letting your 17-year-old go to Cabo for spring break: understandable and hardly over-protective.

{And more than that: Ariel, you don't have LEGS. The only way to even go there is to make a really stupid deal with a shady character whose name is actually Ursula, The Sea Witch. Get a grip. Enjoy being a princess with a bunch of handsome mermen who would probably love to date you.}

To somewhat of a lesser extent, this is my beef with Tangled. Mother Gothel does not have Rapunzel's best interests at heart, but Rapunzel's defiance is almost as egregious as Ariel's because she doesn't know about Mother Gothel's deception when she defies her.

... Or I'm overthinking this. Am I overthinking this?

1 comment:

  1. Hi! I just stopped over from Catholic All Year and started clicking around. I've got say... You're not over thinking this. You're spot on. I didn't notice this when I watched the movie years ago but I definitely saw it when I revisited it as a parent.