by D.W. Lundberg

Wednesday, April 15, 2015


As the Disney live-action remake/cartoon nostalgia train rolls on (this morning, Sir Ian McKellan posted this report from the Beauty And The Beast table read), I thought we'd take a gander at the effects these films have had in our current pop culture climate.

Tim Burton's Alice In Wonderland (2010) came first, of course - a (some would say) drastic re-conceptualizing of the animated Disney classic, with Johnny Depp as a bug-eyed Mad Hatter and Helena Bonham Carter suffering from the most horrifying case of elephantiasis ever captured on film. Next, Universal took a crack at the fairest one of them all with Snow White & The Huntsman (2012), starring Charlize Theron and Kristen Stewart. Then in 2014, Disney earned themselves a mint by casting Angelina Jolie in Maleficent, a faux-feminist retelling of Sleeping Beauty from the POV of the villain. And while I didn't much care for Maleficent ("This is an ugly, embittered film on many levels," I wrote here, and I stick by that - just not for the reasons you'd expect), I did pick up on a strange sort of trend that popped up at the end of all three films - namely, the desire to turn beloved Disney princess-types into pant-wearing warriors.

Last month, however, gave us Kenneth Branagh's Cinderella - which, coincidentally, just crossed the $180 million mark at the U.S. box office. In the months leading up to its release, I bet I wasn't the only one who feared the titular waif would end up arming herself with sword and shield to battle her wicked stepmother for absolute control of the kingdom. But then the unthinkable happened: The movie turned out to be a relatively faithful adaptation of Disney's studio-resuscitating 1950 classic! Poor Cinderella even has to suffer through the climactic ballroom sequence wearing a dress!

Now tell me, folks and feminists... is this what you call progress? Or a violent regression of everything Hollywood hoped to achieve over the past five years?

"Feminism," by the way, is defined by Merriam-Webster as "the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities." Which, according to the filmmakers of today, apparently means covering their female leads from head to toe in armor and getting them to engage in hand-to-hand combat with a bunch of dudes. Yay, feminism!

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