I read yet another article yesterday about Disney being ‘archaic’ and ‘a bad role model’ for girls: I couldn’t disagree more!
It’s true that the classic princesses (up until The Little Mermaid) are more demure damsels-in-distress types, but they are there for nostalgia’s sake now and most children would rather watch the more modern ones anyway.
I was watching Mulan with the teenager (awesome role model by the way) and noticed all the best lines and comedy came from one character, the Grandma!
This got me thinking; all the older ladies in Disney films are awesome! If you think about it, they’re often the ones who give out the advice that actually helps the main character. I mentioned Gramma Tala in Why Moana’s Mum is Awesome, we know Mulan’s Grandmother Fa is amazing, but there are so many more: Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother, the witch in Brave (another Disney film with awesome role models), Nanny in 101 Dalmatians, Clucky in Robin Hood, The Good Fairies in Sleeping Beauty, Grandmother Willow in Pocahontas and many more.
So what makes these older ladies so fab? They all have these characteristics:
- They’re seen as crazy: This may get some people ruffled as they think we shouldn’t be showing old people as crazy, but I think it’s a compliment. The ‘crazy’ action is often the thing that helps the heroines in our stories and it shows that these women don’t care what people think…Amen to that! In a world obsessed with looks and ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ not conforming is just about the best example we can set!
- They’re loving: They all show love and kindness to the person they help. They put family first (if they have family in the film) and support the goals and dreams of the protagonist, even when other ‘good guys’ don’t.
- They have fun: They all have a sense of humour, even when things aren’t going quite right; that’s a great lesson to learn.
- They all help the story along: The story wouldn’t go where it does without them… the heroine seeks advice or practical help from our older character and they give it! Without these amazing older ladies, Cinderella wouldn’t meet her husband, Pocahontas wouldn’t follow her heart, Mulan wouldn’t know about the army wanting her Father to enlist, Moana wouldn’t know sailing is in her blood….these seemingly minor roles actually cause the plot of the films they are in!
- They explain stuff: An example for us adults, rather than the children watching; these awesome ladies explain themselves, help the heroines in their stories to understand key points and never talk down to them. They do all of this while remaining strong and positive too!
So I don’t think Disney is doing a bad job at all! Walt would be proud 🙂
Have a lovely day my friends!