Note: This post highlights inappropriate content connected to Disney, so please read with caution.
The Walt Disney Company
Believe it or not, there is a lot of horror surrounding the Disney company. Sex scandals, subliminal messaging and evil villains all feed this growing rep. I bet you’re unfamiliar with the real stories behind Disney’s fairytales. Some of the classics are rewrites based on the Grimm Brothers’ stories which are collectively dark and often cruel. The Walt Disney Company is most known for its animation, theme parks and media channels. Disney’s persistent use of the Horatio Alger Myth, or rags-to-riches stories, tells us that no dream is too big to achieve and no person to small to achieve it. Numerous scandals threaten Disney’s very existence, but it’s continued goodwill and outstanding movies continue to keep it afloat without too much scrutiny.
Aladdin– During one scene in which Aladdin floats up to Princess Jasmin’s balcony while standing on the magic carpet, a whispering voice says, “Take off your clothes.” When I first heard about this I didn’t believe it. I decided to investigate with an old VHS copy of Aladdin and turned up the volume as high as I could. Lo and behold a creepy voice proved the rumor correct.
The Rescuers– Approximately 38 minutes into the animated feature, two frames of a topless woman can be found in a background window. This rumor was confirmed by Disney and has since been corrected in later releases. Anyone with an older version can play the animation in slow motion to see the nudity. No thanks…
The Little Mermaid– The wedding scene towards the end of the movie portrays an over-excited priest and the original VHS cover art shows what looks like a giant penis drawn into the castle architecture. I remember watching this movie dozens of times when I was little and never noticed these erections, but now that they’ve been pointed out, it’s clear that someone has a sick sense of humor.
Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm were born in Germany during the 1780s and both were professors and scholars. Their fairytales include stories featuring royalty, talking animals and magic (just like most of Disney’s stories). What people are surprised to learn is that the Grimm stories are just that– grim. They are sad, cruel and sometimes scary.
Cinderella– This a story about an abused girl with horrid stepsisters and an evil stepmother. Cinderella is constantly ridiculed, forced to work long hours and receives no positive reinforcement. Cinderella’s fairy godmother grants her a night at the prince’s ball. He falls in love with her and vows to marry the anonymous party-goer. A glass slipper is his only clue to her identity, and he scours the village to find her. The Grimm story is very similar except that the fairy godmother is a bird who brings a dress and gold shoes, the step-mother forced her daughters to cut off their toes in order to fit into Cinderella’s shoe and the step-sisters’ eyes are pecked out by pigeons as punishment for their cruelty.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs– Snow White is an innocent, beautiful girl whose jealous step-mother hires a hit man to kill her off. The evil queen tricks Snow White into eating a poisoned apple, and it is up to her new friends (seven hard-working dwarves) to find the prince and rescue her. The Grimm story is again similar except that the evil queen did not fall off of a cliff to perish, instead she was forced to dance in iron shoes until she fell down dead from exhaustion and infected burns on her feet.
The Little Mermaid– We all know about Ariel’s dream to explore the world of humans and her love for the prince. We know that Ursula, the evil sea witch, is defeated in the end and Ariel is free to marry her true love. Hans Christian Anderson tells a very different story. The mermaid falls in love with a prince who is already in love with another woman. She goes to the witch for a chance to be with him, but a curse causes excruciating pain with every step she takes with her new human legs. In the end the prince marries the other woman (whom he’s loved the entire time) while the mermaid is offered a knife by her sisters in order to kill him. Instead she accepts a broken heart and returns to the ocean only to disintegrate into a suicidal sea foam.
For more Grimm stories, I suggest Grim’s Complete Fairy Tales. It is currently on my Amazon wish list. Also, for more Disney heroines of horror by Jeffery Thomas, click here.
Whether Disney actresses are in the middle of some nudity scandal, seen scantily clothed or dancing suggestively, the company will always recover. Poor public relations, ill-humored subliminal messaging and racial stereotypes are no match for this animation god. Children will continue to enjoy Disney productions and theme parks as long as we are all alive and most likely for hundreds of years to come. We can all appreciate the art, storytelling and spin-off ideas including the work of Jeffrey Thomas. Disney will always have a place in my heart and in my memories.