When you look back on the days of the traditional hand-drawn Disney movies, what do you think of? Images of pretty women singing to animals who magically do her bidding, evil stepmothers, and darling princes that you wished would show up and whisk you off your feet? How about sexy lingerie and dirty dress up? No… Me neither.
Disney is an interesting case for underwear to be based on, because the thing is, when you really break down Disney films there not all that ‘innocent’. Now obviously Disney never showed sex scenes or had vulgar language – because it was for a child audience, but it does teach children about themes that they generally wouldn’t have to deal with until they are adults or at least much older.
Let’s just look at a few examples:
Pocahontas – Made in 1995.
The movie follows the protagonist Pocahontas on her journey from young girl set to inherit leadership of her Native American tribe when she marries Kokoum, the eligible bachelor her father wishes her to marry, but instead she falls in love with John Smith who has sailed over with the ‘white man’ to search for gold in the Native American’s homeland. The film’s themes show children an idealised view of a very dark story, with a glamorised soundtrack that will leave the audience singing ‘Just Around The River Bend’ and ‘Colours Of The Wind’ until your voice is hoarse.
Mulan – Made in 1998.
Chinese protagonist Mulan fails her family by not passing the test to become a Geisha and marry a wealthy husband, and feels huge guilt for breaking her families heart and not fulfilling her destiny that has been sent down through women in her family for generations. Mulan’s father is lame, and once a great general in the Chinese Army he has been drafted to return, rather than let her father take his place she transforms herself into a lookalike boy and escaping in the middle of the night she leaves to fight in her father’s place. With her trusted friend Mushu (A dragon and guardian sent by the Gods) and her lucky cricket, she joins the army as her father’s son, and fights the Hunn while being discovered to be a woman. She continues the journey to the Chinese festival celebrating the end of the war to save the emperor from the remaining Hunn forces, and winning the love of General Yang. The story teaches children about sacrifice, failure, guilt, disappointment and sadness, as well as the overwhelming Disney theme of love.
Aladdin – Made in 1992.
Aladdin lives life from day-to-day stealing to survive, and giving homeless children food that he’s stolen like Robin Hood, Aladdin finds himself falling for Agraba’s princess whose escaped from her boring life in the palace. Princess Jasmine and Aladdin feel a deep connection, but convinced they will never see each other again Jasmine resigns herself to the fact she will be forced into an arranged marriage by her father, the Sultan, to a prince from another land. When Aladdin discovers the genie hidden inside a magic lamp he chooses to use his wishes to try and win Jasmine’s hand, and does this by transforming into Prince Ali in order to be seen as good enough to be her king. Evil advisor to the Sultan, Jafar steals the genie’s lamp, using one of his three wishes to become the most powerful genie in the world, and trying to force Jasmine into marriage with him. In the end good prevails, Jasmine and Aladdin live happily ever after defeating Jafar until the sequel ‘Jafar Returns’. In this film there’s themes of deceit, treachery, arranged marriages, and ownership of individuals.
These are just a few examples of the adult themes and nature’s that litter Disney movies, and the way they are presented to children in a light and engaging way is somewhat explorative and informing. It helps in the way that by the time they are old enough to fully understand these themes, they have already got the added benefit of having seen them throughout their childhood without it impacting them negatively.
Its really no wonder that children’s films with such adult themes would be turned into something sexualised. ‘Innocence’ and ‘purity’ have been sexualised for many, many years with the virginity being a big thing to so many through cultures and time, and through generations it has been viewed as something sacred that women should protect. And whether you agree with Disney princesses being transformed into dirty cosplay items for adults, it’s not going to effect the children who are in love with those movies right now.
Wreck it Ralph isn’t going to show up in a Disney film wearing a willy warmer because some obscure lingerie store turned sleeping beauty into a sexy character. Sexy Disney costumes are available at nearly all high-street fancy dress shops and have been for years, sexy Disney isn’t a new thing.
The Disney films have been a staple of childhood since Snow White (1937) and Sleeping Beauty (1959) graced TV screens and burrowed a deep hole in all of our childish hearts, and that is going to be effected by anything any fashion outlet does, because Disney is much more than just movies, it’s magic and fantasy that inspire imagination and enlighten juvenile’s experiences. Disney is a loved company for children, and that will continue for many years to come.