By Jenny Kerr
Since 1937’s animated version of the classic fairy-tale Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Disney has been providing children all over the world with the necessary “life lessons” they need to help them to understand the world around them. From the heart-breaking realisation of what life is like for those whose parent(s) have died, which was portrayed in Disney classics like The Lion King and Bambi; to the lessons of accepting those around you for who they are and not how they look, portrayed in movies like Beauty and the Beast and The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
Movies such as these are great because they draw you in and allow you a couple of hours respite from the world around you and any problems you might be having. For me, these movies were about that but I could also relate to the characters and their stories.
For many young girls growing up, Disney films provided female lead characters they could look up to as they got older; for me, there was only one who I felt I could really relate to. Her name was Ariel and she was The Little Mermaid. To some people, her story was about her rebellious spirit and finding love in a world that was so unfamiliar to her. For me, her story related in a very similar way to my own. For you see, Ariel wanted to trade her tail fin for legs as she would then be able to blend in with the other humans on land.
I have legs but they don’t work and so growing up, I wished that I could have legs that did so that I could also “blend in with the other humans [who could walk] on land”. Of course, when The Little Mermaid was released in 1989, I was only 3 years old and so I was too young to realise how my life would pan out in the future.
Another movie I related to was Walt Disney’s Dumbo. Now, I know I am not an elephant with big ears but I do know what it’s like to be bullied because you are different to everyone else. My disability made me different to my able bodied class mates; but thankfully this was not the only reason that I was bullied. In saying that, it was the one thing that for me really hit a nerve as my disability is something that I was born with and therefore can’t be changed which was why I felt that I could relate to Dumbo’s story.
Aside from the magical characters or the storylines of these movies, there are also the catchy sing-a-long songs that we all know and love. Of course I loved the classics such as “Be Our Guest” from Beauty and the Beast and “Everybody Wants to be a Cat” from the Aristo Cats. However, there are three songs which, for me, stand out among all the other classic Disney songs. These songs are “Reflection” from the 1998 movie Mulan, “Let It Go” from the 2013 smash hit Disney movie Frozen and, the one I feel I have the strongest connection with, “Part of that World” from The Little Mermaid.
I really relate to the messages that come across in these songs. The lyrics talk about not knowing who you are and feeling like you don’t fit into the world around you. This is something that I can relate very strongly too.
It’s not just the magical tales and characters or even the catchy songs of Disney that I feel inspired by; even now that I am a grown woman.
There are also those famous quotes such as “We are all connected in the Great Circle of Life” from The Lion King to “Always Let Your Conscience Be Your Guide” from Pinocchio. My favourite quote is from Bambi and it goes “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all”. Yes, to some it may be considered to be just a silly little saying coming from a cartoon rabbit, but for me it became more than that as I got older and began my journey into the adult world.
So you see, it doesn’t matter what age you are! Disney movies will always have a place in society and they will always be relevant to you no matter what your personal or professional situation happens to be.