Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Belle, you go guuuuuurl

Sure, Giroux makes a few good points about instances of racism and male chauvinism in Disney movies however the most important point he makes is the fact that we must use Disney as a site of learning, especially for children. "This means, at the very least, that it must be incorporated into schools as a serious object of social knowledge and critical analysis. Second, parents, community groups, educators, and other concerned individuals must be attentive to the messages in these films in order to both criticize them when necessary and, more importantly, to reclaim them for more productive ends" (Giroux, 63). So even if most of us became red with anger when reading Giroux's attack on the beloved fantasies that seemed to construct a good chunk of our childhoods, I think he does bring up a good point. Going off of this, yes, I will allow my children to watch the classic Disney movies, however I will create a balance so that this is not their primary source of education and will be sure to correct any misrepresentations presented in the movies, as Giroux suggested. Even if I were to say no to Disney movies, I feel like it would be close to impossible to ensure that they wouldn't be exposed to them some way or another since it is so embedded in our culture and society.

I could understand Giroux's weariness of the message Ariel, Jasmine, and Pocahontas could send to young girls however, I'm not sure I can accept his criticism of Belle from Beauty & the Beast. First off, the opening scene is probably one of my most favorite scenes in all of the Disney movies. As beautiful, enchanting music plays in the background, we hear the deep voice of the narrator tell the story of the Beast, saying :

" Although he had everything his heart desired,
the prince was spoiled, selfish, and unkind. But then, one
winter’s night, an old beggar woman came to the castle and
offered him a single rose in return for shelter from the bitter
cold. Repulsed by her haggard appearance, the prince sneered at
the gift and turned the old woman away, but she warned him not
to be deceived by appearances, for beauty is found within."

What better message to teach little kids than this? As a young kid and even now, I think Belle rocked. In my eyes, she was a strong woman who was unselfish by taking care of her father who is the joke of the town, very intelligent since she was a big book worm, and she didn't allow looks to taint her vision of "true beauty" sending the handsome Gaston the other way and eventually falling in love with the beast for everything else but his looks. So, I don't agree with Giroux's claim that "in the end, Belle simply becomes another woman whose life is valued for solving a man's problems" because I fell in love with her character before she settled down with a man. And what is so wrong with finding love anyways? She deserved it.

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