I have been on a nostalgic rant lately. Nostalgia is good for the soul- the recall of happy memories can improve your sense of well-being. Just because some of the posts have not been entirely happy, does not mean the evocation of being a child is not happy. We are not talking about being a 24 year old virgin playing chess on a corporate community SharePoint site (yes, this is currently happening where I work. #BreakingNews). This post is no different; I will be discussing the real stories behind some Disney films. Unlike my post about Peter Pan and how it is the most offensive, obscene Disney film or my post about how traumatic children’s movies can be, this post will show how some Disney movies did not go the route of their original stories. These are the versions that we are hoping will get remade into an adult/horror versions of the fabled classics. It’s time to see how Disney has taken some dark, twisted stories and made them into sweet,happily-ever-afters.
The wooden boy was a little mischievous in the movie, not really having any morals or doing the right thing. In the book, he was even more of a little rebel. As soon as he learns to walk he runs away from Geppetto and tries to begin anew. The police discover this little boy all alone and decide to throw Geppetto in jail on the grounds of potential child abuse. This must be the book that Adrian Peterson read his child to every night in between picking out his own switch and checking under the bed for monsters. Pinocchio returns home alone and who does he find?! The Talking Cricket (Disney was nice enough to give him a name, and a starring role with a headliner song). As in the movie, the Talking Cricket tries to serve as a moral compass for the boy and educate him on how he should strive to do the right thing. Okay, parents, how often does it go over as smoothly in real life as it did in the movie? Well, in the book they boy is not having it, and he kills the cricket:
“At these last words, Pinocchio jumped up in a fury, took a hammer from the bench, and threw it with all his strength at the Talking Cricket.
Perhaps he did not think he would strike it. But, sad to relate, my dear children, he did hit the Cricket, straight on its head.
With a last weak “cri-cri-cri” the poor Cricket fell from the wall, dead!”
Karma is no stranger in this story. Twice later on Pinocchio is faced with the harsh repercussions of his actions toward the helpful cricket. After selling his school books for a ticket to the infamous marionette show and ignoring the ghost of the Talking Cricket who tells Pinocchio not to get involved with certain bad people, he is attacked by a fox and a cat who try to hang him. They hang him so they can still gold coins he hides under his tongue. If it were me, I would tie Pinocchio up and sit on his face every day singing Fleetwood Mac’s “Tell Me Lies.” Oh, those sweet, sweet lies.
All ends well as Geppetto forgives the boy when he learns his mistake(s). Pinocchio decides to dry his feet over the stove (Smoky the Bear was right…) and it’s so comforting and he’s just so tired that he falls asleep. When he wakes up his feet are burned to ashes. Geppetto rebuilds his feet. This is the version I would tell my kids; this version drives some serious points home and I think all children would learn from this instead of learning the hard way.
2. Sleeping Beauty
There were some critics who said Maleficent may be too scary for audiences. Well, I have some news for those critics: they obviously never read the real story behind the sleeping princess. The story begins with a King prancing around the village knocking on doors. I must remind you, as magical as the lands were, these were the days before TInder, Grindr, etc. I must also inform you that the King is married. But that does not stop him from entering Sleeping Beauty’s castle because no one answers the door. She doesn’t answer because she is comatose. The King must have his degree from Vanderbilt because he decides that, since he cannot wake her up, that he should carry her to bed and rape her. And he’s just like, “Deuces!” to her unconscious body once he’s done. I’m sure that was the most exhilarating 35 seconds of his life.
The next thing you know, she wakes up because she just gave birth to twins and one of the babies sucks the spindle out of her finger. That makes sense. I can’t imagine waking from years of sleeping due to a prophecy only to find out I am a recently raped mother of two. But she at least saved money on not having to pay for serious anesthesia during the process, since comatose patients probably can’t push a child out naturally. The King comes back and falls in love with her. She basically said, “I bet you say that to all the girls you rape, Daddy.” And of course this scumbag is still married and she is beyond upset. She devises a plan to have the twins killed, then cooked, and then fed to the King. Cannibalism is an art form long-forgotten. And somehow in this process the Queen finds time to attempt to burn Sleeping Beauty at the stake. Two things: 1) Anger management 2) Pre-nup.
3. Snow White
The movie does a lot of the original story justice in its portrayal. The Queen does order the Huntsman to kill Snow White. But in the story, the queen also asks for Snow White’s heart, liver, and lungs as proof of her murder. She was going to eat them for supper. Apparently, all they had at Publix was ground boar meat. I bet she makes a mean casserole though… She discovers the truth and tries more than once to kill Snow White. When she finally convinces her to eat a poisoned apple, Snow White goes into a coma. A prince comes and convinces the dwarves to let him take her, and I am not sure why a prince would want a passed out girl… oh wait, yes I do. But as he is carrying her away on his horse, the galloping dislodged the poisoned apple inside her and she woke up. She falls in love with the prince and they get married, inviting the Evil Queen to their wedding where they force her to dance in red-hot iron shoes until she dies. I plan on doing a piece on Snow White (the Disney movie version) in the future. Or should I say, Ho White. Stay tuned.
4. The Little Mermaid
Disney truly did a great job taming this story from the original. It went from being an R-rated tragedy to a G-rated musical. Sure, the basic premise of the movie is the same: horny, young mermaid wants to be human so she can bang (I mean fall in love and marry) cute boy she sees on ship and a deal is made with a sea-witch. Everything sounds perfectly innocent– everything, that is, until you realize that the sea-witch does not just take her voice after signing a contract but instead takes her tongue. Her price for having legs is that when she walks it feels as if she is stomping on broken shards of glass. If she fails to make the prince fall in love with her she dies. She does not just get legs; the sea-witch cuts her tail down the middle and Ariel goes on land and is bleeding everywhere. Where’s a maxi pad when you need it? And what does that tricky sea-witch bitch do? She tricks the prince into thinking she is the woman who saved him from drowning and he marries her instead. And Ariel can’t talk, so she can’t tell him the truth. But why can’t that bitch write him a note? Play charades? Act it out? She just lets her man get taken. She is then given a silver lining: if she kills the prince, then the terms of the original arrangement are null. She will turn back into a human and all will be as it was. She is offered a knife to stab the prince mercilessly but she decides to throw herself into the sea quicker than the old lady from Titanic throws the Heart of the Ocean into the deep, blue water. As per the very first ending good ol’ Hans wrote, she turns to sea foam and dies. Dead. Happily ever after.
5. Beauty and the Beast
The twisted part of this story is how Belle has two step sisters, almost as wicked as the ones in Cinderella. Cashing in on beast’s moment of weakness, she goes home for a week to see her family. But she must return in a week. The stepsister are overwhelmed with jealousy and disgust at this seemingly perfect, luxurious life she is now living. You see, their dad used to be insanely wealthy. So now they “suffer.” Fueled by their jealousy, the step sisters keep trying to trick/persuade Belle into staying longer than a week. They are certain if she does then the beast will rip her to shreds and eat her. If he eats her like he eats porridge, then she is one lucky gal…
As you can see, the pre-Disney stories had some ominous themes: rape, cannibalism, murder, suicide, more rape, adultery, pools of blood, lies, and more cannibalism. There are more stories with dark pasts that I did not go into: Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, Fox and the Hound, Rumplestiltskin, Hansel and Gretel, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, etc. Not all are Disney, but all are now beloved children’s tales. Just be sure when you grab that book from the shelf before your kid’s bedtime that you grab the G-rated version and not the horror-inducing R-rated version that was read to Leatherface and Ted Bundy when they were children… sweet dreams…