10 Lies Disney Told Me

Apr. 5, 2012
Screen Shot 2014-03-04 at 11.08.32 AMChelsea Fagan is a writer living in Brooklyn. Want your articles on Thought Catalog? Send it here as a word document.
God, I love Disney so much. In my spare time, I have been known to create entire dances to various Disney songs, and have not yet met princess fan art I won’t stare at for a decent 15 minutes while thinking, “Damn, I wish I could draw.” But it hasn’t all been smooth sailing; I’ve had to put up with a fair amount of deception — we all have. And here, the most significant lies told to me by my childhood guiding light:

1. If You’re Pretty Enough, You Can Communicate With Animals

From Pocahontas to Snow White to Giselle, pretty much any girl with a button nose and a decent wardrobe can just pick squirrels off a tree and get it to help her run her errands. I remember, at one point, going out into the woods behind my house when I was about 8 or so and trying to get the birds to come to me by sing-whistling at them. For a while, I was convinced that it didn’t work because I wasn’t a molten-hot princess in a super pretty dress. We were taught to believe that there was a certain class of women whose appeal and charm extended past princes to actually bring all manner of fauna to their side at their will. It was something of a disappointment when you started watching The Discovery Channel and realized that the people who actually spend their time figuring out the communication techniques of deep-sea squid were named Kevin and had more hair on their back than their head, and the squid didn’t dance around the research boat helping them clean the crew cabin.

2. Incredibly Rich, Hot, Popular Guys Are Husband Material

As much as Disney Princesses give girls a pretty tough standard to live up to in terms of beauty, wardrobe, and general behavior — the guys have it pretty bad, too. In order to bag a Princess/live happily ever after/be a hero, they have to be: ripped, two weeks away from coming into their inheritance, live in a castle, and have a face like looking directly at an orgasm. They have to be pretty perfect. And the thing is, guys that are beautiful, come from rich families, athletic, and charming do exist — look at Armie Hammer. The thing is, though, they are almost universally assholes. Remind me of that guy from high school who lived in that Victorian manor on the good side of town, and was captain of the lacrosse team, and had eyes like pools of sapphires, and a chest like Rambo — and he was super sweet and awesome and sacrificed everything to be with you? Oh, right, no. That guy’s diet was probably 40 percent jungle juice, and he only liked talking about the BMW that his dad leased for him. Not husband material, by any stretch of the imagination.

3. Pocahontas Was A Romantic Tale Between Two Consenting, Sexy Adults

Lol she was 12 and he was almost 40 in real life, and she probably didn’t have a whole lot of choice in the matter. Children’s movie material if I ever heard of it. She did have a talking raccoon best friend though, that part is true.

4. Ugly Girls Look Like Anne Hathaway

Oh, The Princess Diaries. How chock full of deception that film is, from beginning to end. (And we can also thank it, inadvertently, for making us suffer through Anne’s painful Oscar hosting with James Franco some ten years later.) But nothing in that film stands out as untrue quite like the idea that the dowdy, nerdy, unfortunate-looking girl at your school who has to be transformed is going to look like Anne Hathaway. We get it — she has puffy hair and glasses. But I think even the 12-year-old me watching the film was familiar enough with school politics to think to myself, “Wait a second — Anne Hathaway is actually smoking hot, you just messed up her hair and put grandpa glasses on her.” Disney wasn’t ready to give us the rough truth, that the school “ugly ducklings” are actually incredibly unattractive, and aren’t going to be transformed into starlet material with a simple chignon and swipe of mascara.

5. Disobeying Your Parents Can Only Yield Fabulous Results

I remember when Ariel was like, “Betcha on land, they understand, that they don’t reprimand their daughters,” and six-year-old me was like “Hoo child, if only. If only,” and then we smoked a cigarette together and commiserated about getting grounded. But in all seriousness, Disney films have been chock full of zesty young women breaking free from their overbearing parents and running off into the sunset to…get married several weeks later. And though my goal wasn’t necessarily to walk down the street past my bedtime and go get engaged to the neighbor boy, it certainly planted this idea in my head that if Belle can ditch her father and get a castle library out of it, I could at least probably stretch my TV-watching privileges past 7:30. Little did we know, though, that running away dramatically from your parents and doing the exact opposite of what they have decreed for you usually ends in crucial childhood privileges being taken away, including the right to watch the very movies we were getting our bad habits from. We should have left the rebellion to the Princesses, who had all those talking animals to help them in their exploits.

6. Captain Jack Sparrow Will Never Get Old

I remember settling in to watch the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie and thinking, “Wow! That Captain Jack Sparrow character is just hilarious! What can’t Johnny Depp do if given the right script and a little bit of makeup? ‘But where has the rum gone?!’ Comedy gold!! Gosh, I could watch a million of these movies and never get tired of it…ever.” Granted, I was already 14 when the first film came out, but I was still young and naive enough to believe. Along comes the second movie, which started to feel a bit tired, but still kept a somewhat fresh story line and decent banter. The third film came around, I felt like it was probably time for them to hang up their tri-corner hats for the last time and call it a day. And then of course, we found that a fourth film was coming out. A fourth film. And we were exasperated, tired, and just wanted Jerry Bruckheimer to let us sleep. But it came and went, and we made it through to the other side. And now IMDB is telling me that a fifth film is coming along. I thought only Tim Burton was allowed to exploit Johnny Depp until he’s a withered husk of a human being no longer sure of where he is or what he’s doing, only that he has a silly costume to wear and a couple cheesy lines to deliver. But it seems Depp signed some flaming contract with the devil, because he’s got more than one franchise/director/character to keep running into the ground until it has lost all meaning. Apparently “quirky goth guy” wasn’t enough for Johnny to do 12029383428 times — he’s also got Keith Richards Pirate Man left to ruin forever. God speed, Johnny. God speed.

7. Computer-Animated Films Are Going To Be The Greatest Thing Ever

Dammit, Pixar. You made Toy Story, and we were all like, “THIS IS THE FUTURE. WE ARE LOOKING AT THE FUTURE.” The film was so slick, and yet so warm and touching, and so perfectly crafted as to resonate through two stellar sequels over the course of 15 years. Between A Bug’s Life, Ratatouille, Wall-E, and The Incredibles, it seemed an infallible medium. And then the other films came — Planet 51, Shrek Forever After, Mars Needs Moms — that proved, without a doubt, that this was indeed just another movie medium. When it’s good, it’s extraordinarily good, and when it’s bad…it’s Ice Age 68: The Re-Freeze feat. That Hilarious Squirrel Creature Again. I would like to pass a law that only Pixar can make computer animated films from now on, and the rest of them should be scooted under the proverbial rug — except for Antz. Antz can stay in our national film registry if it wants to.

8. Life Was Pretty Sweet For Women At All Moments In History

Man, whether it was 1400′s Baghdad (excuse me, “Agrabah”), mid-18th century rural France, 1600′s Jamestown, or medieval Paris, things were good for the ladies. Sure, there might be an arranged marriage here or there, but they were quick to talk back, mill about town freely, and pretty much do whatever the hell they wanted. It’s an idyllic view of history, sure, but certainly not one that you want to carry with you, rosy-eyed, walking into history class. You remember Jasmine saying, “I am not a prize to be won!” and then you read a book or two and realize that, lol, girl, that’s exactly what you were. Belle? Would have been paired off with Gaston the second she turned 13. Ariel? I haven’t finished my Victorian mer-politics class yet this semester, but I’m pretty sure she and her 18 dancing sisters would have been in some kind of harem. Pocahontas? We all know what happened to her IRL. Mulan? Pretty sure she wasn’t going to get off with a slap on the wrist and a hot night with her former army captain, that’s for sure. Cinderella? Probably would have died of the black lung from cleaning chimneys out all day before she could ever put on a nice dress and go dancing. Life would have been pretty bleak for these ladies, but I guess that doesn’t make for as charming a story.

9. No One Had A Brighter Future Than Lindsay Lohan

I feel like Disney should be obligated to go pick her up wherever she is and take her to Disney Land and let her have a whole weekend where she just rides roller coasters and eats cotton candy and relives whatever childhood she clearly missed out on so, so hard. She gave them The Parent Trap, dammit. They owe her something! She played two roles in that movie at once, and she had the most adorable nose-freckles America had ever seen. Sure, Herbie Fully Loaded, Confessions of A Teenage Drama Queen and Freaky Friday were kind of lackluster, but she was a Disney kid/teen star! That company is legally required to squeeze their child actors like a tube of toothpaste until they get every last drop of adorable, charming youth out of them. And unfortunately, she (like so many Disney child stars before her), simply had nothing left when all was said and done. But if she — and maybe Kim Richards, too — could just have a little time to themselves to be normal kids, not hovered over by parents with dollar signs in their eyes and executives telling them to “do it again, but cuter this time,” they’d probably be okay. Disney, can you hook this up? You own half of the developed world. You could make it happen.

10. Everything — Absolutely Everything — Has A Happy Ending

If Disney has taught me anything, it’s that whatever bad thing is happening, or whatever negative feelings I’m having, it is clearly not over with until I’m singing a bouncy outro song and skipping into the sunset towards an awesome life. How sad I was to find out that people actually do break up, for example, and your ex is absolutely not showing up on a white unicorn under your castle window to apologize/let you in on his incredibly generous trust fund. And could you imagine my surprise when I realized that sometimes unattractive people don’t get transformed by a group of singing forest animals/royal staff into a gorgeous, charming princess that everyone suddenly loves unconditionally? It was like a cold slap in the face from reality when I found out that I would need 4 years of orthodontic work and an accutane prescription just to get to “mediocre ending,” let alone riding off in a chariot with Ryan Gosling. I guess, in some way, I still anticipate that things will have a Disney ending. When you grow up with it for so long, it’s hard to shake the idea that everything is going to end in a catchy song and flashy, bright colors. I guess I’ll just save a handful of confetti to throw whenever things are looking particularly bleak — no problem that couldn’t fix. TC mark

image – Disney

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