Fair Use and Disney Ideology (?)
May 21, 2007
Please take ten minutes or so to watch this hilarious and informative little video. I wonder, can anyone give me a really cogent reason why the whole notion of “intellectual property” is not bunk?
On a related note, today is my oldest daughter’s third birthday. A package from my mother arrived in the mail this morning full, just like the one that came at Christmas, of “Disney’s The Little Mermaid” clothes, phones, bubble bath, purses, and so on and so on, all wrapped in “Disney Princesses” wrapping paper. There must be about a thousand likenesses of Ariel in my house right now. Enough is enough.
Actually The Little Mermaid might be my least favorite Disney Classic, although I’m coming to hate a lot of them. Watching them with my daughter it’s occurred to me how very badly the father comes off in almost all of them. In cartoon after cartoon the King or Sultan or whoever is a tyrannous autocrat, doting but blind to his child’s real needs, casually cruel to his employees, who are usually deployed to do the actual work of parenting in the father’s place under threats of extreme violence; and (Triton is an exception here) the King or Sultan or Peasant Dad is usually diminutive, rotund, and clumsy as well. Of course the mothers are never in sight, but while that can be explained as fairy-tale convention (which is why there can be a mother in The Lion King and, if I’m not mistaken, Mulan), why do the fathers always have to come off so badly? Is it just that that’s how the target preteen demographic is supposed to see their dads anyway, and Disney’s giving them what they want? Or is there something else going on? Do I really want my little girls watching this? Maybe we should stick with Pixar movies, which have great dads, as well as being artistically superior pretty much all the time.
Little Mermaid strikes me as the worst of the lot, though, not just because they messed up the original worse than usual—we all expect that—but because Ariel gets rewarded for what are after all pretty despicable actions: disobeying unreasonable parents is one thing (although Triton is right about human being unrepentant fisheaters, as we find out in graphic detail), but Ariel also participates in witchcraft, self-mutilation, endangerment of her friends, and (arguably) High Treason, and in the end gets exactly what she wants.