You may remember my experience last week where I received the strange basket of apples with a cryptic note from Valerie. I ate one of the apples and fell into a deep sleep, after which I received the strangest ideas for how to improve Walt Disney World. So I wrote them down, and my editor posted them here.
Well, I decided to try a second apple from the basket. One bite of this next apple, and I passed out again. I woke up with the inspiration to rank some of Disney’s best cartoons. Get ready, because I guarantee you that you’ve never seen Disney’s films in this light…
8. Wreck-It Ralph (2012)
Just picture it: a large, virile character roams the world, and though people see him as a bad guy, he’s really good inside, and in the end, he saves the day!
Am I talking about Wreck-It Ralph? Of course I am, but in reality I’m talking about the man whose life I’m convinced the movie is a metaphor for: our wonderful ally Vladimir Putin. Just think about it.
7. The Princess and the Frog (2009)
It’s about black people. Enough said.
But seriously, Disney had built up tons of bad publicity with the awful, racist, bigoted Song of the South in 1946. It’s absolutely shameful that it took the studio 63 years to come up with a remedy.
With 2009’s The Princess and the Frog, Disney finally had a worthwhile African-American character, and a princess at that! What’s even more remarkable is that Tiana, the main character in the film, finds success as a restaurateur in the evil, racist South, during a time (the 1920s) that was rife with bigotry.
The Princess and the Frog is a wonderful cartoon, and it’s almost enough to make up for Song of the South. Almost.
6. Cinderella (1950)
It’s a classic, but let’s face it: 1950’s Cinderella sends a message that proves that the wealthy – the privileged few winners of life’s lottery – will treat the less fortunate with cruelty every time.
Lady Tremaine and her daughters victimize and bully poor, downtrodden Cinderella. They take advantage of her and repress her attempts to make a better life for herself at every turn. When her stepsisters Anastasia and Drizella rip up the dress she made, Cinderella stands in for everyone who has found themselves victims of the cruelty of the rich.
The most interesting thing about Cinderella is what finally pulls her out of poverty. No, it’s not the Fairy Godmother – it’s the Prince. It is only Prince Charming’s edict that the young woman who left behind her shoe at the ball would become the princess that saved Cinderella, so, you see, it’s a government program that elevates Cinderella’s status – nothing more and nothing less.
5. The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996)
When it comes to Disney’s cartoons, one of the most controversial has to be 1996’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame. It’s actually a rare show of bravery on Disney’s part, as the feature takes on the biggest cultural behemoth: the Church.
Ok, so Disney didn’t go full-on Victor Hugo and attack the Catholic Church heavily like the original author did, but, as we see in the video above, Esmerelda has some tough words for those people who claim to follow Jesus – that’s right, Jesus was an outcast too. And she sings it as all those greedy Christians pray selfish prayers all around her. I bet if the songwriters had time for another verse, Esmerelda would have sung about the fact that Christians don’t want you to have free birth control.
That’s right – this same church that The Hunchback of Notre Dame goes after is the same one that doesn’t want your insurance company to pay to abort all your unwanted pregnancies, making you today’s outcasts.
4. Pocahontas (1995)
Disney took a courageous stand in 1995 and told the story of the horrible ravages the white man wrought upon the native peoples of the New World and their pristine land in Pocahontas. Just look at the video above: clearly the white men are ready to exert their dominance over the indigenous people of Virginia, and then the natives wise up to the fact that they’re being played by their “new friends.”
A nice side note to Pocahontas is that she was apparently the first American environmentalist. Think about “Colors of the Wind,” which Judy Kuhn sings with no trace of melodrama at all. Pocahontas makes the whole “Circle of Life” concept in The Lion King look like child’s play.
Sigh. It’s just a shame Pocahontas sold out to the white man in real life.
3. Tangled (2010)
What happens when an authority figure lies to someone year after year, and then they break free and finally find out the truth? Well, in Disney’s universe, you get Tangled.
The charming 2010 feature tells the story of the young Rapunzel, who lives in a tower with her lizard Pascal and yards and yards of magical hair. She longs to see the world, but her overprotective Mother Gothel fills her head with lies about the outside world because Gothel is a witch who kidnapped Princess Rapunzel from the king and queen years before. When Rapunzel escapes and finds freedom, she discovers the truth, and it changes her life forever.
How appropriate that Tangled came out the same year we learned the truth about allowing the government to manage our health care system! The Republicans and some in the medical community held the sweet, innocent public hostage to their lies, much like Mother Gothel. Thank God the Democrats helped us escape and see how wonderful Obamacare really is.
2. Frozen (2013)
Last year’s Frozen has generated its own share of controversy – but at the same time it has shattered all kinds of records and enjoyed an insane amount of acclaim. So it stands to reason that I would include it on this list.
And here’s why – Elsa is a real queen. (No silly, not that kind of queen. Get your head out of the homophobic gutter!) What I mean is, she’s a true leader who gets things done despite the opposition she encounters along the way.
If something doesn’t go Elsa’s way, she uses her power as monarch to make sure she gets her way. You know, like an executive order. She gets almost everything she wants, including that cool ice palace (talk about your infrastructure projects), all on her own, using her power as queen.
It’s a good thing we have an Elsa-like leader who knows how to get things done – in his case, using a phone and pen, rather than wintry magic. Then again, Valerie wishes we would just go all the way and install her as queen…
1. Aladdin (1992)
One of my favorite Disney films of all time is Aladdin. What makes it so great? The songs? Not exactly. The stunning visuals? Not quite. Robin Williams’ mindblowing performance? Nope. Aladdin is such a great movie because of its surprising real-life parallel.
Aladdin features a genuine rags-to-riches story. In it, a scrappy young man with an odd Middle Eastern-sounding name wants to make something of his life. He encounters an all-powerful genie, and with the genie’s help he becomes the perfect prince.
The genie helps him make a big splash, and he wins the heart of nearly everybody he encounters. In the end, of course, he gets the girl and cements his place as the hero.
And I think we all know the obvious metaphor here. Aladdin is Barack Obama – the young, charismatic guy who could – and did with the help of the genie – become leader of the free world. And who’s the genie? Why, it’s Valerie Jarrett, of course! Trust me, you’ve never had a friend like her.
Stay tuned as I consider biting into another of these mysterious apples from Valerie…