For most parents, Disney is as safe as it gets. From superheroes to princesses, they’re the perfect choice for family movie nights because there’s something for all ages. Or are they? If you think about the stories, many are based on centuries-old fairy tales with primitive values. These may not be the moral codes you’re looking to instill in your own impressionable little princes and princesses.
Kristen Bell may be the voice of Frozen‘s Anna but she doesn’t give all Disney flicks a thumbs-up. In fact, she uses some of the more archaic storylines to teach her daughters, Lincoln, 5, and Delta, 3, some life lessons.
“Every time we close Snow White I look at my girls and ask, ‘Don’t you think it’s weird that Snow White didn’t ask the old witch why she needed to eat the apple? Or where she got that apple?’, Bell told Parents magazine about the discussions she and her girls have after a bedtime story. “I say, ‘I would never take food from a stranger, would you?’ And my kids are like, ‘No!’ And I’m like, ‘Okay, I’m doing something right.'”
And it’s not just a matter of stranger danger with her kids, there’s also the topic of consent. Continuing with her condemnation of Snow White, Bell has asked her girls, “‘Don’t you think that it’s weird that the prince kisses Snow White without her permission?’ Because you can not kiss someone if they’re sleeping!”
Earlier in the week, Keira Knightley, mom of three-year-old Edie, also had something to say about a couple of other Disney princesses. She told Ellen DeGeneres that Cinderella is “banned because she waits around for a rich guy to rescue her. Don’t! Rescue yourself, obviously!”
Knightley added that the same goes for Ariel in The Little Mermaid. “The songs are great, but do not give your voice up for a man. Hello!”
Keira, who added that Finding Dory, Frozen and Moana are totally acceptable, is sticking to her feminist values and isn’t apologizing for them.
If you’ve ever watched a show or movie from the long ago times of a decade or more ago, it’s astounding to see what just does not hold up and it’s disappointing to realize that some of what made us laugh back then is no longer funny. The glaring issues in many of our old faves are actually problematic as hell, whether it’s racist, sexist or politically incorrect. Shielding girls from these movies altogether might not be the ideal solution; having an honest conversation about the problems in some of these classics might be a better tactic, but, hey, that’s up to the parent. Whatever works.
So, should we continue to tell these stories at all? If Hollywood wants to keep remaking movies — hot take, we know, but — why not change up Snow White, Cinderella and The Little Mermaid to be more relevant to today’s society. Modern Disney women FTW.