Happy Independence Day! Or, as my Father likes to say to our English Friends, “Happy We-Kicked-Your-British-Arses-Day!”
Ah, the Fourth of July. When we celebrate our freedom by over-eating fatty meats and playing with explosive objects. Just can’t get any better. In order to celebrate this anniversary of our rebellion from the stuffy Brits across the pond, I want to celebrate the character I believe to be the ultimate rebel of Disney:
Ariel from The Little Mermaid
“What!?” you Feminist-Disney-Super-Fans say. Ariel’s not a rebel! She’s anti-feminist!
She gives up her life, her family, her voice, and the anatomy of the lower half of her body for a man she hardly knows. Isn’t Ariel the horrible embodiment of every guy’s Stepford fantasy? A hot chick who fawns all over you but can’t talk? Score! Now make me a crab sandwich.
But I have a lot of love for Ariel because, well, she was the very first of the rebellious princesses. Before her, they pretty much slept on the job while waiting for their bland, fungible princes to come save the day.
True, Prince Eric still came to Ariel’s rescue in the end of the movie. But Ariel was the very first princess to be unhappy with her lot in life and then do something about it. She didn’t sit weeping on a bench, waiting for her fairy godmother to wave her magic wand and make it all better. There was no “Bippity Boppity Boo” to solve Ariel’s problems.
She had to seek out Ursula. She sacrificed her voice and her family in order to go after the thing that she wanted. Was it an idiotic decision? Absolutely. But she was chasing after her dreams, and that is something to be admired.
True, her dream was to marry some dude she just met, but I think her obsession with Eric was more a manifestation of her desire to live on land. You know, that thing she sang an entire song about?
She felt trapped in the world she was born into, and while singing songs to woodland creatures is one coping solution, Ariel wouldn’t be so easily mollified. She was the first heroine to really fight back.
Ariel turned the tide for Disney heroines. Sure, there are some valid complaints against her, but they don’t negate her worth in the bigger picture. Ariel left the only life she knew and entered a new world, almost entirely on her own, in order to pursue her passion. And after her, Disney princesses were never the same.
Now that’s a rebellion.
Happy Independence Day! Now go have some rebellions of your own.