Wired’s Geek Dad has a Top 10 list that I have often thought about, “Top 10 Bad Messages From Good Movies.” I actually don’t agree with everything on his list, but his #2 is one that I have often asserted, albeit from a slightly different angle. (His take is below.) I despise The Little Mermaid because it is fundamentally a story about a girl who throws a tantrum and does whatever she wants, jeopardizing the world in the process and causing her father and friends to be made into seaweed, BUT in the end she gets what she wants. With no repercussions for her actions. Moral? Do whatever you want and someone will be sure to pick up the pieces after you.
2. It’s OK to completely change your physical appearance and way of life for the person you love, even if he makes no sacrifices at all (from The Little Mermaid). This movie has the single most appalling ending of any Disney movie ever made, which is a shame because, apart from that, it’s a great film. I just cannot comprehend how anyone could make a movie in the late 1980s with this message, which is not exactly subtle: Ariel gives up her home, her family, and BEING A MERMAID because she loves Eric so. And he gives up … nothing. Yeah, that marriage is off to a great start.
4 thoughts on “Bad lessons from good movies”
Reminds me of how the first Harry Potter novel struck me.
Boy with more power than wisdom uses power to take (largely disproportionate) revenge against enemies, in addition to disobeying those in authority and deceiving any in his way while in pursuit of personal ambitions. Result: victory, with no repercussions for his actions — or character development.
Haven’t picked up any of the others as a result.
Say, don’t American Girl stories follow a similar plot? Headstrong child disobeys parents / authority in pursuit of personal ambitions and achieves victory without negative consequences. Moral: Do whatever you want, and adults will come to see that you were right and they were wrong.
What an era in children’s fiction….
I don’t read Harry Potter in the same way. In fact, many of the novels have Harry and his friends very much suffering the consequences for his actions. What I think she does well (and I am a reluctant fan) is develop her characters at the ages they are supposed to be, with all of the age relevant foibles and follies.
Again, I only got through the first one. I’m listening to Tamora Pierce audiobooks currently.
In the original fairy tale, the prince falls in love with another woman and the mermaid dies of grief.