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Disney’s metaphors

Published: Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, August 15, 2012 15:08

“Beluga sevruga/ Come winds of the Caspian Sea/ Larengix glaucitis/ Et max laryngitis/ La voce to me.”

Isn’t it a little bit funny, how when we were kids, Ursula’s spell seemed so evil and sinisterly foreboding? But now as adults, caviar, the Caspian Sea and laryngitis, albeit a bit annoying at times, are not that evil.

Whether it’s a tale as old as time or some poor unfortunate soul, our childhood memories of Disney films still remain submerged under the seas of nostalgia. Those of us who are most familiar with these films still remember the clear blue oceans where Ariel and Flounder had their adventures with the Sea Witch Ursula, endless dunes and deserts where Aladdin and Jasmin’s love was strong enough to overpower Jafar’s evil, or even the pride-lands of Africa, and how Simba’s heart wrenching pain over his father’s death let him overcome the sinister plot by his conniving Uncle Scar to take his rightful place as king.

But what does all of this teach us? Does it teach us that Mermaids are real and fish can talk, and to dream to be something other than what we are because we are unhappy? Does it teach us that there are evil sorcerers in the Arabian desert who wish to conquer the universe and that love knows no bounds or that there are animals in heart of Africa that secretly act out Shakespearean Drama? Well, excluding some exaggerations, yes, that is what it teaches us. In the most outrageous manner of sorts, these metaphors are there to teach.

Ariel wanted to express who she really was and to be who she really wanted to be, as she said, “up where they walk, up where they run, up where they stay all day in the sun! Out of the sea. Wish I could be, part of that world!” And she became what she wanted. We could probably do a whole other column or six on how or why, but she changed her circumstance to achieve a dream.

Aladdin and Jasmin didn’t let class differences separate them. True love conquers all and it opened up a whole new world for the both of them. Regardless of the fact that he became wealthy beyond his imagination, their love knew no material worth. Whether or not Genie had a hand in it, they were truly in love.

Simba is kind of an interesting situation. This was the Hamlet of Disney, just with animals. But there is a lighter side to the shadowland of this story. Simba may have suffered with the false-guilt of his father’s death, but it was overcome and it resulted in a life well earned and spent with friends and family in the pride-lands.

Sure we could ramble on about the morality or lack thereof in Disney movies, but the main point is that these stories leave for us ways to look back to find simple and meaningful metaphorical touches that can be sprinkled throughout our own personal stories. Most of us probably have a personal nostalgic connection to these movies and, whether we like them or not, the stories and their meanings are clear across the board. 

It is hard to sometimes discuss major societal movements or upheavals in our world because they can get our emotions all bubbled up and stir the pots of our most personal philosophies. However, as it comes across quite brilliantly in the words of American writer Henry James, “What is character but the determination of incident? What is incident but the illustration of character?”

Aside from getting into a discourse on literary idealism, one thing we can take from this is that you need not be defined by your circumstances, but rather create your own. Find what inherent tools there are to illustrate them so that they can be shared in a compassionate and revolutionary way with all. Maybe by doing this we can give ourselves a whole new world for you and me. 

 

Maxwell Gold is a senior studying philosophy.

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