We were watching The Little Mermaid today with my youngest (she’s four, now, and has a serious thing for mermenaids, as she calls them — which is, actually, maybe, the best possible version of a non-gendered title for the things?).
Watching it as an adult is not at all like watching it as a kid. It’s hard to imagine a less sympathetic protagonist — literally all she does is run around behind her (single) father’s back and disobey his orders and requests (all of which are not only reasonable, but pretty darn sensible at that).
- She spends her days stalking and obsessing over humans — amassing a room full of their junk. This is creepy.
- She blows off a major family (and community!) event — “the pinnacle of [Sebastian’s] career” — because she “forgot”. (By the way, and this is particularly irksoe as a guy who knows a thing or two about performances myself, how in the hockeysticks did that performance even begin when they didn’t know where Ariel was? It ain’t like she told somebody “brb, gotta fix my seashells, I’ll make my cue” — they just straight started the show and then were SHOCKED when she wasn’t there. Nonsense!)
- She runs away from home to make a deal with basically a drug dealer, essentially signing her life over in exchange for a chance at love. Crikey.
- She busts up a wedding with the help of her band of ragamuffins. (Okay, it was a sham wedding but still.)
- She leaves her father and family behind to marry a guy who was basically ready to propose after just two or three days (Disney seems to have a fixation with this happening actually)
The only way she works as a protag for me these days is if you accept that the entire plot of the piece is about her naivete — but then that doesn’t work either because she doesn’t learn to not be naive in the end. Quite the contrary — daddy swoops in at the end and fixes everything, giving her exactly what she wanted without for a moment suggesting she, I dunno, maybe think about her actions and their consequences for half a second?
Frustrating. I guess I shouldn’t be watching kids’ movies so closely.
Meanwhile, Sprout the first was in and out of the room, too. Since questions literally come out of his mouth ten-to-one with actual statements, I take great pleasure in messing with him when I can, and watching him mull over whether I’m telling the truth.
“Daddy, what’s that mermaid’s name?”
“Daddy, what’s the crab’s name?”
“Daddy, are mermaids real?”
“Are they just rare?”
Rarer than unicorns.
“Are unicorns real?”
“Dad, what does ‘probably’ mean?”
Just watch the movie.
Problem is, the more he thinks, the more questions he asks. Which, I’ll grant, is a good thing. But an exhausting one.