Growing up as kids, the majority of us got lost in Disney movies from time to time. We sang along to Hakuna Matata. We were immersed on a magic carpet ride with Aladdin and Jasmine. We dreamed a little dream with Sleeping Beauty.
To this day, some Disney movies are still my favourite ones of all time. The Lion King will always be great fun to sing along with. And Thumbelina will always be my tiny little spirit person.
However more often than not in the modern era, our eyes seem to be inundated with images of Disney princesses or characters going through turmoil or traumatic times. Cinderella with a black eye. Snow White with blood dripping gently from her lip as her Prince Charming smugly smiles next to her. Jasmine being forcefully kissed…by her father.
The images are designed to send a message across. They’re powerful and they’re disturbing and it is distressing to see characters you’ve grown up with, put in such a traumatising situation.
Does it make you think twice about the horrors of domestic violence and sexual abuse? Yes.
But is it really necessary to put our favourite Disney characters in such situations? No.
Recently artist Saint Hoax (not real name) released a series of images, showing Jasmine, Ariel and Sleeping Beauty all being forcefully kissed by their fathers. It’s an attempt to raise awareness and encourage children and other individuals to report their sexual abuse attacks. The images titled ‘Princest’ can be seen below:
These images are supposedly created to raise awareness and help people, especially children. To me all the images are, are pure shock value. They’ll go viral for sometime, have their moment of glory and in the meantime probably not really help the cause at hand.
As many people pointed out when a popular website posted these images, Disney movies are a form of escapism for individuals. We watched Aladdin and Cinderella to get enjoyment out of the rags-to-riches tale. We enjoyed seeing our favourite Disney characters find happiness with each other, regardless of the ‘what-ifs’ and the unbelievable nature of the story.
As children, and as adults, we don’t watch Disney films to imagine what would happen if Cinderella was in an abusive relationship. We don’t watch to see Snow White get beaten on. And we don’t watch, to see Sleeping Beauty being sexually assaulted by a family member. Because there’s already movies focusing on that, and they sure as hell aren’t Disney or kids ones.
A victim of sexual assault commented on a thread of these images, and had this to say*:
“As someone who’s experienced sexual assault (not from a family member at least), I understand the sentiment of wanting to raise awareness and reaching out to your target audience. But thanks, thanks so much for ruining something that a child may have found as an escape from the horrors of their life. Thanks for ruining what is one of my escapes, still as a 25-year-old. The Disney stories are beautiful and full of love and hope. Now you’ve potentially ruined that image for so many young (or otherwise victims.”
*quote obtained with full permission.
Disney movies are fairytales and it’s as simple as that.They aren’t moments of true learning or education. They are moments of escapism for children and moments of light-hearted fun.
There are no real reasons to be raising moral objections as to why Snow White is cleaning up after 7 little men, or the fact that Prince Charming doesn’t really exist. And there’s no point in hypothesising what would happen if Ariel’s father molested or sexually abused her. Throwing Disney princesses into such situations won’t help children or even adults speak up against any forms of abuse – it’s just tarnishing another innocent thing, for the sake of some viral publicity.
Do we need to keep getting the message out? Yes. But adults ruining everything that is sacred and pure to childhood is not the way to do it.Follow @tahls
Bravehearts are an organisation that help the victims of child sex abuse.
You can find more information about them here.