Thursday, November 21, 2013

Abbyisms, Disney-Style

I've got to be completely honest: for many, many years I absolutely loved Disney's slew of princess movies, from Snow White on up to Aladdin. I favored the most recent ones in that list- of course- and pretty much lost interest after the latter. By then I was a young adult, rather than a teen, and never seemed to have the time to keep up with the latest incarnation.

I still held a special place for Ariel, Belle, and Jasmine in my heart for a time, particularly after having spent so much time lovingly drawing them during my brief daydream of becoming a Disney animator when I "grew up." However, somewhere in the midst of growing older, becoming a parent, reading one too many feminist-slanted articles on the matter, and being made hyper-aware of the insidious nature of the marketing of All Things Princess, my viewpoint has been colored, and it's hard to recapture those same feelings of fondness.

Don't get me wrong: I neither wholly disagree with the arguments made against the reverence of princesses in little girl culture nor firmly believe that princess lore has no place. I don't have a problem with my daughters going through a phase (one of many, many brief ones) in which they truly wish to be/believe they will be one some day. It will be one of a million silly, unrealistic fantasies of childhood. I have more of a problem with the potential for them being totally sucked into some parallel reality in which every aspect of their lives screams Princess and Pink, because there are more than enough products on the market to make that possible.

So, it's been with mixed emotion that I've taken the first step towards princess introduction via two Disney movies: The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast. I felt sure that Abby would prefer the latter (Be Our Guest is one of her favorite songs), but the former is the one she saw first and has now seen on more occasions, largely per her request. It also ended up being the theme of her third birthday party. 

Interestingly, the last couple of times that we have viewed it have been upon Michael's insistence, and I've caved because he's been so very sick. As a result, I've been seeing a lot of new behaviors emerge from Abby, and I finally pieced together where they've been coming from.

It seems she's been learning quite a bit from The Little Mermaid. Here are the Top Five Take-aways:

  1. That pleasant (for the first couple of times, not so pleasant for the next several and beyond) little ditty that Ariel warbles to Ursula.
  2. A highly-repetitive and not-entirely-accurate rendition of Part of Your World (to be sung multiple times daily).
  3. Inspiration to begin using the non-word Snarfblatt in sentences.
  4. The knowledge that "sing" can be a command.
  5. Appropriate application of the teen-worthy phrase, "Just go away. Leave me alone."
The first four are par for the course, I suppose, and it was obvious to me where they came from. But that last one? After hearing her say it three or four times I finally asked Abby where she'd heard it. "Ariel," she said, matter-of-factly. The realization made me tempted to "accidentally" lose the thing someday soon. I'm not sure that Abby needs a teenaged Ariel teaching her how to better act like a typical one at the tender age of three...