Arts & Entertainment

The two-sided reality of animated Disney classics

WRITTEN BY: Emily Croft & Emma Stevens, Staff Writers

Two roommates sat down to watch Disney throwbacks this weekend. After starting the original animated film Mulan, it came to light that Emily had never seen this movie, nor had she seen many classic Disney films like Hercules or Pocahontas. Contrasingly, Emma had seen them all as a kid, and rewatching them yielded a new perspective. Here are their two takes. 

Emily: 

I was the youngest of four, so a lot of my childhood was spent watching movies that were not meant for me. Instead, I did spend a lot of my time watching timeless comedies, such as Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby and Step Brothers. I never noticed what I was missing until I got to college. I realized it may have been a bit unusual that I could quote Will Ferrell lines but not explain the basic plotline of Mulan

When we sat down to watch Mulan, I was immediately locked in and rooting for the protagonist, especially when she saved all of China from the Huns. Talk about girl’s empowerment at its finest. 

Up next was Hercules, which was definitely my favorite film of the night. The colorful animation was so fun and vivid. I was fully supportive of Meg and Hercules ending up together, a plotline which fueled the expectations for my own love story. 

The final movie of the night was Pocahontas, which gave me my next favorite song for the upcoming weeks: “Colors of the Wind.” 

Honestly, I was surprised that my family let me grow into adulthood without seeing Mulan, Hercules and Pocahontas. After watching these classic Disney films, I feel like I was able to regain a piece of my childhood, and I finally understand how iconic these movies are for this generation.

Emma: 

I would not consider myself a cult Disney follower, but I would definitely consider myself a fan. 

I grew up watching all of Disney’s animated films, especially the princess movies. When I was a kid, I shamelessly went as Cinderella for Halloween two years in a row. Needless to say, I have watched almost every Disney movie at least once in my lifetime. 

However, I have not watched many of them since I was very young. Resurrecting some of these classic films has been an interesting adventure. 

While watching Mulan, I found myself chuckling at some very adult humor. The scene in which Mulan is bathing in the river takes on an entirely new comedic undertone when you watch it as an adult. I laughed when Mushu exclaims, “There’s a couple of things I know they’re bound to notice!” in reference to Mulan’s boobs. That definitely went over my head as a child. 

Though some parts of the film became better with a more adult understanding, there were other parts of the film that became less appealing. Mulan uses terms like “crossdresser” and constantly talks about the “place” of women. I fully understand that the movie is attempting to portray gender roles in a historically accurate way, but this out-dated jargon distracted from the positive memories I have of the film.   

I shared a similar thought when watching both Hercules and Pocahontas. All three films feature wonderful music, subtle adult humor and generally engaging plotlines, but they also contain specific elements that simply would not have made it into a film released today. Pocahontas features blatant racism and Hercules features blatant sexism. 

Though these elements detract from the films, each of these Disney classics still hold a special place in my heart for the nostalgia they evoke.

Photo courtesy of Flickr.com