Everything I need to know, I learned from 'The Little Mermaid'
Continuing with the wonderful world of Disney month, I shall visit The Little Mermaid. I didn’t submit my Disney disclaimer last week, so now is a good time to mention it. I know that a lot of times Disney movies are terrible, particularly with their representation of women and love–however, I grew up on Disney and I bet that you did too. I also happen to know that most of you ladies reading this are radical, and Disney most likely didn’t affect your life choices all that much.
Maybe I am being naive, but I happen to think there are a lot of great things about the female roles in Disney movies, especially during the ’90s. Ariel–though she chases a boy and wants to give up her under-the-sea life, trade her fins for legs, and abandon her beautiful voice–is not all that bad. She is sassy, and stands up for what she wants, and generally goes against the grain. So here we go.
EINTKILF The Little Mermaid
1. We always desire the unattainable
Naturally, the whole story kind of revolves around this idea that we want what we can’t have/the grass (er, seaweed) is always greener, which is TRUE, so don’t hate Disney for that. I always wanted straight hair, just like I know y’all with straight hair always wanted these luscious curls. I also always wanted someone to love instead of. . .not having someone to love. You know? Anyway the point is that Ariel wants to be a human because she thinks it is cooler than being a mermaid. Now that is the biggest lie Disney told us. Being a mermaid is way cooler than being an idiot teenager on the land.
2. Humans kind of suck
But for real.
Sebastian has it easy as a crustacean kicking it under the sea so he doesn’t have to worry about anything like racism still being alive and well, or credit card and student loan debt, or why your mother hasn’t returned your phone calls in a month. Or what if Taylor Swift’s new album isn’t as good as Red? I would happily run from a French chef instead of have all of THAT on my plate.
3. Beauty is not always on the outside
Sometimes it is, of course. I think most people are really beautiful, but in this specific movie we are discussing, Ursula is not beautiful, even when she jacks Ariel’s voice and turns into a “prettier” person. She still looks hella evil, even if her skin isn’t purple and she doesn’t have eight tentacles. Do not be fooled by a rando fake pretty person, ladies and gents. It is about what is inside. I feel like we should all know that by now, right? I mean, it is a basic human lesson. Moving forward. . .
4. Facing your fears is good for you
Pretty much basically everyone faces their fears in this movie. Triton lets his daughter go, Ariel just straight up defies everyone, poor Sebastian is constantly in fear and then faces it, but mostly I am thinking about Flounder here.
5. Body language is legit
Everyone knows that body language is a thing. I have watched myself subconsciously working the language of the bod puh-lenty of times. Cece also taught us about it. (The feet still kill me.)
But we will always owe full credit to Ursula. She may be an evil octopus woman, but she sure knows her ish.
6. Never sacrifice your voice
Of course, Ariel gives in and signs away her life to Ursula ALL FOR A DUDE, which is crazy because they interacted for like 45 seconds. Anyway, Ariel realizes she made a mistake because she can’t even communicate with Eric, but that is not my lesson because it is not always someone’s fault if they can’t talk. (Though it is Ariel’s fault, just so we’re clear.)
My lesson is: don’t give up your voice for a super hot guy on a boat, for an evil woman under the sea, or for any other reason. I also don’t just mean your singing voice; I am talking about speaking your mind. And I guess also a mini-lesson is to read the fine print on stuff. (I’ve never done that; I probs won’t start now. But you guys should.)
7. You gotta have friends
Ariel could not do a gosh darn thing without Flounder and Sebastian. And even Scuttle, kinda. It is a good thing to have friends because when you need someone to do literally all of your dirty work, they will be there for you. And if they aren’t, ditch your human friends for trouts and seagulls.
8. Be gentle with your parents
Poor King Triton. He has so many daughters, yet Ariel is his only concern. JK, I am sure he loves the others too. (I can name them all–one of my few talents) Really though, Ariel is super mad and talks about being reprimanded–a word I didn’t know when I was singing along to this song as a kid–but really she should be kind. Ariel is supposed to be 16 in this story, so maybe she should be a little gracious with her father’s disciplinary tactics, eh? I would hope my father wouldn’t cheer me on as I chased after someone who I didn’t even kind of know in an attempt to abandon my life entirely.
9. Kiss the
girl boy human
Obviously “Kiss the Girl” is in my top three favorite Disney songs because I am super romantic and a sap. And I definitely like when a man I like/love/want more of makes the first move and kisses me first in some ultra romantic setting, buuuuuut. . .I also know that I have almost always made the first kiss move, so the lesson here is to just kiss the person you like/love/want more of. No matter who makes the first move, it is all alright. Kissing is great, no matter who gives 90 and who gives 10.
Count the references in that tiny stanza. That is a gosh darn work of art.
10. Always follow your heart
Speaking of ultra romantic, I am down with Ariel following her heart. Maybe she is a kid, and maybe she will regret becoming a human and leaving her family under the sea, but maybe she won’t. Maybe it is okay to fall in unexpected love and commit to it–like when Frank Jr. Jr. talks about Alice and you just know it is super weird, but true love?
“I just was finally happy, y’know? For the first time in my life. After my dad left me and then, and then getting arrested for stealing those birds, and then the whole punctured lung thing. It’s still really hard to take deep breaths in cold weather, but with Alice, all that stuff kinda went away.”
Nothing matters. Love is love. You go, Ariel and Eric, and Frank and Alice, and whoever you might be in love with, and. . .you.