things a perceptive three-year-old might learn from the Little Mermaid.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Daddies are mean and yell loud. (We're talking through this one.)
Kisses should always be openmouthed with tilted head. (Ditto.)
You can meet a guy and immediately want to leave your home and family forever.
I will have Daddy's blessing if I defy him, meet the man of my dreams, and marry him in such a way that I can never be a part of my family again.
You find out if someone likes you by trying to get them to kiss you.
A good man could fall in love with you without ever hearing an intelligent thought from you or knowing anything about you.
If you sell your soul to the devil/sea witch, it'll still turn out Happily Ever After.

...I've seen this movie before, but never as a parent of a little girl. We bought it without much thought this weekend and let Gracie watch it twice. The more I think about it, the more I wonder what on earth I was thinking. For one thing, it's terrifying (particularly the Sea Witch scenes). For another, it's got some horrid social messages about adolescence/love/family/relationships.

What really set me off, though, was the music video (Ashley Tisdale) that plays immediately after the movie, which applies the "Kiss the Girl" song to what has to be a middle-school or junior high dance scene.

**Mommy twitching in horror at the thought of her girl applying this song to her first dance/date/crush/relationship**

I may be paranoid, but I'm resolute in my paranoia. We're retiring The Little Mermaid, thereby avoiding the whole Princess schtick for a bit longer, and returning to aiding and abetting her Tinkerbell fascination instead. (At least Tink's running around trying to help others instead of collecting fancy trinkets, sneaking off to forbidden places, or batting her eyes to try to win a man.)

The openmouthed kissing thing is absolutely hilarious, 'tis true. But it was scary how quick she picked that up. "This is how I do it now." No, sweetie, not for a long while yet... PLEASE.


Susie Says:

3:46 AM

Brava. I don't envy you trying to explain your choice to every other mother in your community some day, but I do applaud it. We are dealing with the middle school version of this. Explaining to my daughter last night why seeing "Twilight" isn't an automatic "yes," even though every single friend of hers and nearly everyone in her grade went to Twilight parties on its opening night, then to the movie.
I remember explaining to LG when she was about Gracie's age (and a zillion times since then) that "our family makes different choices."
I so applaud your critical thinking. I must say, I missed the boat on the Mermaid back in the day, but in reading your assessment, I think you're absolutely right.

joelle Says:

8:55 PM

Gotta also love Disney's Beauty & the Beast... it occurred to me not too terribly long ago that perhaps the whole old maid paranoia could have been possibly brought on by watching this movie over and over and over in my youth... after all, true love must be found before the 21st birthday or you will remain a beast forever. Bummer. Missed that boat... completely.

Angie Says:

11:41 PM

I would say most fairy tales are pretty questionable. A man must marry you to improve your situation (Cinderella.) Step-parents (sisters) are evil (Cinderella and Hansel and Gretel.) If we don't have enough food, we will let you fend for yourself in the forest (H&G.) If you meet someone that you like how they look, you should marry them immediately (Cinderella, Little Mermaid, Snow White, and Sleeping Beauty.)

However, I do think it is pretty funny how kids attach to different things in movies. Ashlyn is really all about the clothes. She could care less about the prince and all that love stuff, while another friend of hers wants to "get married." Ashlyn just wants to wear fancy clothes (which might be a problem all in itself.)

KimS Says:

12:54 PM

I'd agree, Angie... and usually I wouldn't make a huge point of it, but the way she IMMEDIATELY picked up a fear of her daddy and started talking about daddies yelling and being mean, as well as the openmouthed kissing thing, really made me stop and think.

I know she'll be raised around all kinds of cultural messages that I would prefer she not receive. But do I want to let her plop down in front of something that teaches these things this early? Before she even has the vocabulary or sensitivity to be able to discuss this stuff and do some critical thinking? I know she's going to idolize Ariel/Cinderella/etc.; that's the nature of the experience. But do I want the natural result of that-- her emulating this character's behavior and relationships, consciously or subconsciously, now or in ten years?

I feel like a real stick in the mud, but I think this decision is going to stick for a while.

Angie Says:

1:47 AM

I totally understand your issues. If Ashlyn had reacted similarly when watching the movie, we would have put it away as well. And, there are other Disney movies that she won't be watching for a long time, because I can't imagine explaining some of the messages in them.

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