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April 28, 2003

Bleeping Beauty

Ngnat got a special Sleeping Beauty napkin with her dinner tonight, a leftover from the early birthday party we held for her on Saturday. It went well with the leftover hotdog. She got upset when the Sainted wife handed me a plain napkin, though.

S.W. explained to her that these were special napkins, for a special girl, and that's why daddy didn't get one.

Ngnat was having none of it. "Daddy's special too!" she said, and burst into tears.*

So I too had a leftover Sleeping Beauty napkin with my leftover hotdog, and all was well with Ngnat, if not with me. I hate Sleeping Beauty.

Hate her, despise her, pull for the witch to cast her and all her tribe into a pit of molten lava for eternity her. It's a horrible annoying video, worse than Barney at his smarmiest, or Barbie at her boobiest. The heroine is Walt Disney's blandest of all time, not to mention the crappiest female role model for little girls since Marie Antoinette. She makes Snow White look like a paragon of forcefulness.

For all of the claims that Barbie is bad, she has a career, at least, and lives on her own. Briar Rose, the supposed center of Sleeping Beauty, has no will of her own, is totally acted upon throughout the entire movie, and doesn't even speak for the last third of the film. Or the first third, for that matter. Out of the entire movie, she has 31 lines of dialogue, almost all of which are either about meeting a handsome prince or her flirting with a handsome prince. She's an absolute milquetoast, especially when compared to Disney heroines like Ariel or Belle.

Every ostensibly good female character in the movie is either incompetent, or powerless. The only female character with any power, Maleficent, is of course evil, not to mention jealous, and is dressed like a lesbian Viking with a Goth fetish to boot. Everything about her suggests frustrated male, from her cuckold's horns to her weirdly obvious name. She's not so much female as she is an Eisenhower era vision of a drag queen, the whole of that period's view of homosexuality wrapped up in one tight package.

Her enemies, the good fairies, are only remotely competent when in the presence of a man, and then only as supporters of his actions. They bless the sword the Prince uses to pierce the Dragon lady, who then dies, slain by a gleaming white phallic symbol. By themselves they do horribly stupid things like practice magic for the first time in sixteen years, on the very last day that the Sleeping Beauty curse can be invoked, conveniently drawing the notice of Maleficent's familiar just in time for her to bedazzle the all too easily ensorceled girl. And why pray tell, was magic so sorely needed? Because they were arguing over the color of a dress. Women, just too flighty for words, don't you know?

The virginal heroine, protected from the outside world for 16 years, falls into a deathlike trance after encountering her first prick** and is only saved by a prince, coincidentally the possessor of the second and presumably last prick she'll ever encounter. Yep, unless those pricks are part and parcel of the embodiment of true love, they'll ruin you. To rescue her, the prince not only has to kill the evil drag queen, but must first hack his way through a forest of thorns, which resemble nothing so much as the most threatening, coarsest and blackest patch of pubic hair ever animated. Pubic hair with thorns, yes, but her name is Briar Rose. Where do you think she got it from?

Someone should remake this movie with a man as the sleeper, and a hard-drinking, foul-mouthed Briar Rose as the rescuer. Have her invade the witch's castle amid a torrent of gunfire and acres of blood, execute Maleficent with a graphic shot to the back of her head, light a cigarette and leave the prince to his slumber.

At the very least, she'd be a better role model for my daughter the Disney's limp blonde noodle is.

It's hard to decide which is worse in the movie, the off hand yet absolute depiction of women as powerless objects, or the horribly twisted sexual subtext of the whole thing. As Song of The South is to African Americans, so Sleeping Beauty is to women. It may be worse. You don't have to be a feminist*** to see the stuff I noted above; it's two-by-four to the side of the head obvious, so there's probably a lot that I overlooked. I'll get more chances to review it, that's for certain. Ngnat shows no signs of realizing how bad it is, no matter how many times I explain it to her.

*In case you were wondering, she does say nice things to her mother, as well. Tonight for instance, just before bed, she said "Mommy, you're my best friend." But since Mommy doesn't have her own blog, and indeed looks askance at the whole practice, her interactions with Ngnat are much less recorded.

**this is a pun. What she actually encounters is technology with a phallic symbol attached, and we all know how women are with technology, right? She touches the phallic symbol, which makes her bleed, quelle surprise, then falls down in a faint. La petite mort, indeed.

**and god knows I'm not, though I did once write an end of term Women's Studies paper for a girlfriend, who had freaked out and was screaming "This is all such bullshit!" at her textbook the night before it was due.

It got an A.

Posted by Bigwig at April 28, 2003 11:17 PM | TrackBack
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