B2 High-Intermediate US 298 Folder Collection
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Is it just me or are the so-called villains of the Disney universe the real heroes that we need right now?
- I never thought of that.
Since the early days of Disney, we've been taught that to be pretty and kind is the way to win hearts...
- I'll wash and sew and sweep and cook.
But the princes and princesses that are supposedly so heroic and good...
- A-ha, come on.
Or the colorful sidekicks who have plenty of style, but very little agency, just don't have the same pull as a really naughty baddie.
- You are such a naughty boy.
If we're being honest with ourselves, the highlights of Disney films are the scenes where the villains get to wield their magical powers.
The early Disney princess films show the austere, elegant Evil Queen and Maleficent transforming into frightful hags and terrifying dragons.
The animation is psychedelic and experimental, wonderfully dramatic and fear-inducing, and, vitally, much more visually stimulating than watching Snow White do the dusting.
- And I'll use the broom!
Unlike the bland, conventional, petite princesses with small waists and huge eyes or the muscly, nipple-less heroes - Aladdin, I'm looking at you...
- Would you look at that.
Disney's villains flaunt their physical diversity.
- Look at me.
In The Little Mermaid, fabulous sea witch Ursula - oozing out of her LBD, eight-legged and proud - is unafraid to command the space around her.
- And don't underestimate the importance of body language, ha!
Ariel, in contrast, is timid, willing to give up her voice, and showing very little imagination, dreams of having only two legs.
- Pathetic!
It's hardly a surprise that the look of Ursula was inspired by the outrageous drag queen, Divine, with those eyebrows reaching the hairline and a pronounced, puckered mouth that could eat you alive.
Ursula is a born performer, made for the spotlight, much like Hades of the Underworld, whose puns and wordplay make him the death and soul of the party.
You know, I haven't been this choked up since I got a hunk of moussaka caught in my throat! Huh?
His head is a fiery mop of blue flames, and his swirling black toga made up of mist makes him stand apart from the rest of the glowing, golden gods.
- What?!
Truly, our divas know how to make an entrance and are totally aware of the importance of a powerful first impression.
In Pocahontas, the flamboyant Ratcliffe rocks up to his red carpet with ribbons in his pigtails.
Maleficent gate-crashes Sleeping Beauty's christening, bathed in green light.
- Anita, darling!
And, if anyone knows the meaning of fashionista, it's the razor-sharp, cheek-boned style queen herself, Cruella de Vil.
Admittedly, not the most ethical of women, but who cares when you have a theme song this catchy?
- ♪Cruella de Vil♪
- ♪Cruella de Vil♪
Our Disney villains, hands down, get the best songs.
No soppy ballads about finding their one true love.
-♪The way you did once♪ Yawn!
- ♪A shining new era is tiptoeing nearer♪
Instead, we are privileged to hear their dastardly plans as they soliloquise.
In The Lion King, a film much loved for its musical interludes, it's Scar's menacing "Be Prepared" that literally makes the Earth move.
- ♪And injustice deliciously squared♪
- ♪ Be prepared♪
And although they do indulge in a few wicked acts, we must look at the motivations of the Disney divas.
Overarching Shakespearean themes of greed, power, and jealousy are recognizable throughout, but, ultimately, most of our baddies just seem to be isolated and lonely.
They have been ostracized for being or looking different and are understandably turning on the society that has shunned them.
- You weren't wanted!
Maleficent was the only one not invited to a party.
- Oh, dear, what an awkward situation.
Hades was invited, but clearly unwanted.
- Hey, how you doing? Looking good. Nice dress.
Scar's insecurities about his place in the pride are ignored.
- Life's not fair, is it?
And Ursula has to trick people into giving her their souls just so she can have some company.
- Banished and exiled and practically starving.
Is it any wonder that so many of us end up relating to and rooting for the bad guys with their imperfect lives and flawed personalities?
No, no, no!
We see ourselves reflected more in them than in the heroes and heroines who get their happily ever afters.
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Are Disney villains really the heroes? - BBC

298 Folder Collection
Courtney Shih published on December 4, 2019
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