Disney Father's Suck 2
I love Disney movies, I really do, and I just don't want people to think I don't because I am outlining the terrible fathers of the franchise. I think it's very important that we understand that imagery, regardless of the genre, are powerful and representation is key. Disney and a lot of other film companies are finally realizing the latter and we are seeing more representation as time progresses. However that doesn't change the fact that yes, Disney Father's Suck...still.
Now some people won't agree, mostly movie nerds who will remind me that the antagonist behavior of the fathers are conducive to the plot. Save it. I'm simply highlighting the reoccurring theme that most movies, especially Disney movies, use to turn the tide of their films. Most children have to defy their parents in movies in order to "set themselves free". How often do we see encouraging loving parents in movies who believe in their child's ability to succeed? Or parents who may have their doubts but still prepare their kids for what's up ahead instead of shielding them because they feel they simply cannot succeed? Today I will highlight some Disney fathers who do exactly that and fail miserably at doing just that.
The Little Mermaid (1989) - King Triton
Everyone has seen the Little Mermaid and if you haven't seen the animated version please go see it before they make a live action remake. Ariel is a freshly turned 16-year-old mermaid with ambitions of life on land. In fact she's so enamored with human life she collects every land-based trinket she can find. The problem is contact between humans and mermen...merwomen...um merpeople is strictly forbidden. Now her father, King Triton, is the all powerful King of the sea and he gets really PO’ed when he discovers not only that Ariel has made contact with a human (Prince Eric) she's in LOVE with him. I mean the nerve of a half fish half woman to have emotions for a handsome Prince. Who in the hell does she think she is? Triton get's so mad in fact he busts in her little fish room and ZAPS a whole bunch of her little land treasures. What...A...DICK! All that does is push Ariel right into the arms or tentacles of his nemesis Ursula who tricks the impressionable teen to trade her lovely singing voice for a pair of..."What are those called, oh yeah, feet". This all leads up to an epic battle and adventure where of course the good guys win, humans aren't so bad after all and the all powerful Triton gives Ariel some human legs. The End. Wait, he does what?? You mean to tell me that King Triton and his magic trident could have done this all along yet instead he blasts his daughter's precious trinkets in an act of fishy rage?! Granted the whole "humans and merpeople can't mix" probably makes sense on an ethical scale but he had the power this whole time to let her go and he simply could not. NOT until Eric pretty much risked his life saving his daughter and essentially saved the kingdom. Triton, you suck.
Mulan (1998) - Fa Zhou
Mulan is one of the more progressive of the Disney princesses so this one is a tough one to tackle. She never wanted to defy her father Fa Zhou rather she wanted to protect him. Fa Zhou was an old military veteran who was summoned to war when Shan Yu and the Huns invaded. Being the only male in the house since he and his wife hadn't bore a son, he was called upon once again to serve his beloved China. Mulan took exception to this rule because not only had her father served his time, he was pretty banged up because of his service in the past. He was in no way, shape or form fit for duty but he felt it was an honor to protect his country and his family. On top of that Mulan wasn't really feeling the whole idea of bringing her family honor by becoming the perfect bride, at least not in the traditional sense. So instead of keeping up with the traditional patriarchal norms of the time she decided to guise herself as a young man, steal her father's armor and take his place on the battlefield. Now are the ancient traditions of this movies era more to blame then her father's stubborn rigidness? Perhaps, or maybe her father was so traditional he was blind to the fact that Mulan was totally different from the other girls. She was trying desperately not only to be herself but to prove her worth, not only to her father but the family name. Since she wasn't born a boy she couldn't go out and become a warrior, and she wasn't ready to be any man's silent bride either. What pushed Mulan to make her decision to protect her father was this exact line from Fa Zhou, " I know my place, and maybe it's about time that you learn yours". WOW. That sucks. I mean Mulan strives so hard to be the perfect daughter for the only man she's admired up to this point and he took a steaming dookie on her self-esteem and her self worth. For that alone Zhou..You suck.
Anyway by now you guys get the idea. Disney fathers pretty much are trash. This writer wonders why there aren’t more positive images of fathers, not only from Disney but also in movie and films period. Why do father's get such a bad rap? Is the father, daughter dynamic that bad? Let me know.