Escape from Wonderland: Disney and the Female Imagination
In 1989, Disney's little mermaid first asked the musical question, "When's 11 my turn?" She asked it again in 1996, when her movie was re-released in the-aters, and she continues to ask it, frequentiy, in many of our living rooms, Never has a protagonist had so many turns to demand a turn: yet, seemingiy, she remains unsatisfied. If even the heroine in a Disney -girls' movies' does not enjoy being a girl, how must the girls watching her feel about it? Behind this gender question lurks a larger political one. if Aries feminist rhetoric is undercut by more conservative dements in her movie, so is the envi-ronmentalism of The Lion King, the multiculturalism of Pocahontas, the valuing of difference in The Hunchback of Noire Dame—in short, all the quasi-liberal sen-timents that focus groups have no doubt caused to grace the surface of the last decade's Disney features, ideology in Disney is a much vexed question, and 1 will not attempt here to untangle a knot which began forming for critics when Walt first denied having any politics back in the thirties, and which has only grown in mass and complexity since his death, as his corporatio►'s management style has evolved to cope with a burgeoning staff of artists and technicians, changing public tastes, and changing perceptions of those tastes. One generalization I do suggest, however, is that Disney the man and the corporation are known for a belief in control. The top-down management style Disney epitomizes—Auschwitz (Giroux 55) or Mouschwitz (Lewis 88), is a Frequent analogy—thrives on homogeneity and rigid adherence to rules. These are features often decried in Disticy production and product, both by critics of
Marv& & Tales; journal of Fairy-Tale Studies, Vol. 18, No. (2004), pp. 53-66. Copyright 2.004 by Wayne State thrirversity Press.