Tale as old as time
True as it can be
Barely even friends
Then somebody bends
Words from a lament in Disney’s movie Beauty & The Beast, accompanying scenes of thawing of the Beast’s ill tempered behaviour; softened by the charms of enticing French girl Belle.
The increase in warmth towards his guest, enhanced by her absence of fear at his grotesque visage, excessive hirsuteness and erratic temperament. Not minding him eating straight from the bowl at the dining table, further endearing the lady to the ogre.
The animated version of the tale was something I watched repeatedly in the 1990’s, when my children (now in their 20’s) were obsessed with Disney films. That decade was a golden era for Walt’s franchise; with Lion King, Pocahontas and Toy Story contributing towards the Disney Studios top quality output of that era.
Returning to a formula of animated movies where love and righteousness prevail, timeless songs, along with recent technological developments, the Studios had a much needed return to producing classics after twenty years of creative mediocrity.
The other day while I was cable channel hopping, I caught some of the animated Beauty and The Beast for the first time in nearly two decades. Fond memories flooded back at hearing the songs with lyrics my kids and I used to know off by heart, when they were only knee high to a grasshopper.
Critics of this genre may proffer that the movies paint an inaccurate saccharin coated existence. Arguing that in the real world good infrequently conquers evil, along with happy ever afters being unachievable. As a consequence, impressionable minds are misled as to the true realities of the outside world by setting unattainable expectations.
Of course this genre of fables and fairy-tales don’t portray life as it truly is. Artistic licence results in messages being delivered to its demographic audience by flatulent warthogs, comical genies and a scruffy evil lion with Jeremy Irons voice.
I prefer to focus on the fact the movie plots attempt to indoctrinate your young brood with important life values. A tutorial in how to treat people with dignity, kindness, warmth and humanity. Not forgetting the requirement of perseverance when attempting to achieve your goals/dreams.
Unlike the morphing Power Rangers or the sewer dwelling Ninja Turtles, I never had a problem endlessly re-watching videos of Disney classics with my kids.
They were generally brimmed with good role models who lads and lasses could aspire to be like……. Unless of course they wanted to be dwarves when they grew up!…. Or not as the case may be.
All you had to hope was they preferred the cut of the good role models jib, not mimic the behaviour of villains Gaston, Jafar, Scar and a cast of other odious characters.
If reality was the top of Disney’s agenda, the Beast would surely be completely ostracised and receiving anger management counselling. In addition, the dwarves and Snow White could be anxiously awaiting DNA results on ‘The Jeremy Kyle Show’.
Who knows, the old woman and her kids may no longer live in a shoe; instead residing in the Big Brother house for our voyeuristic entertainment.
It may not just be the characters who would be dysfunctional if Disney productions were given a contemporary spin. The songs might also receive a darker, more disturbing makeover if they wanted to accurately reflect everyday life.
For example, with our current alpha male role models, what chance the male lead in the animation being given the following updated song verse?….. (To the tune of ‘Tale As Old As Time) :-
Tale as old as time,
No need to be fussy,
You are all that matters,
Leave their life in tatters,
Once you’ve grabbed their p***y