I love Disney as much as the next person, and being a 90’s girl, I was raised on the good ol’ Disney classics. But even someone who bleeds Disney like I do knows that as of late, “new” Disney had been slacking a little bit. Disney had lost some of its magic.
The magic started coming back around the time of Tangled, but it was really Frozen that said to me, “Disney is back!” To me, the best thing about Frozen is it’s story of sisterly love. When the act of true love that saves Anna from freezing to death is saving Elsa from Hans and not true love’s kiss (surprise! Plot twist!), Disney sends us a very powerful message: “True love isn’t always a prince kissing a princess.”
One of the most common complaints levied against Disney is that its stories fill children’s heads with fairy tales, making little girls dream of becoming a princess who is beautiful, lives in a huge castle, and finds true love by marrying a handsome prince. And honestly, it’s kind of difficult to argue with that point. However, in Frozen, Disney turns this around, essentially fighting a societal norm that it helped create.
About a year or so later, Maleficent came out. We see the story of Sleeping Beauty told from the point of view of the original fairy tale’s villainess, a view which shows Maleficent growing fond of the young Aurora living in the woods, befriending her, trying to save her from the curse she’d put on her as revenge on her father, and ultimately, waking her with a kiss on the forehead. Not what we’d expect for true love’s kiss, now is it?
Again, Disney surprises our sense of norms with a “true love’s kiss” within a mother-daughter type construction. And why shouldn’t that be considered true love? The truth is, we just don’t happen to think of it because we’re too star-crossed over dreamy lover boys like Prince Eric (or whichever Disney prince suits your fancy). True love can happen in any kind of relationship; it’s not about who you love, it’s about how you love them.
This selfless type of love has no specificity to relationship. In fact, you will find that all good relationships are founded on such love: between friends, lovers, family members…
So, congratulations, Disney! I do believe you’re back in the game, bigger and better than ever before.