Ever read an article that made you sit back and actually think about something you’ve never even noticed before? I recently had that experience when I came across a 2014 article from Samantha Allen, writing for The Daily Dot, called “What Disney movies taught me about being gay“. I found it whilst skimming an article about “Disney’s first gay character”.
A long time ago (okay, not that long ago), I did a college paper on racism in animated films. So, you would have assumed that at some point the homosexuality angle would have occurred to me as well. But it didn’t. I never batted an eye at Genie’s fondness for Aladdin, or the friendship between Timon and Pumbaa. As for Ursula? Well, she terrified me, but I never read anything into her attitude or appearance.
And I don’t know what to think about this. I truly don’t.
On one hand, did I not notice the subtle homophobia because I, as a mostly straight girl, just never had a reason to pick up on anything? Or is it one of those things that you only see if you’re actively looking for it? I’ve always loved Disney movies but I’ve never really thought about them. Great animation, pretty sounding songs, and generally a fairy-tale root that makes me go all warm and squishy inside. That’s as far as I’ve ever needed to carry it.
When I did start having my eyes opened to some of the problems with Disney movies, I found that a good piece of my enjoyment of those movies had been removed. And that irritated me.
Part of me wants to rail out that “Can’t we just leave well enough alone? D’you have to poke at old kids movies?!” But that’s exactly the wrong attitude to take, even though it’s my natural inclination.
It’s that realization – that I don’t want certain things probed into too much because I don’t want to finish destroying my fond memories of them – that makes me realize exactly how easy it is to be that person. To fuss about something just because I don’t like how it’ll make me see things.
And it’s the fact that I can realize it and work against it that makes me realize how completely flipping stupid it is for people to just blindly react to crap the way they do.
Ugh, sometimes I hate being made to think.