Last night, my partner Butterfly and I curled up and watched the special about the movie Frozen. How the movie was made, interviews with voice actors and producers, behind the scenes laughs and challenges. It was a beautiful piece, and well worth the watch for the two of us. When the film came out, we went to the snowflake bounce-along sing-along… and it was an almost empty theatre. We watched curled up with each other, and were delighted to see a princess flick that was about love between sisters, where the prince was not the be-all-end-all-goal. Where women were powerful, and men could be loving, kind, and complex, as well as evil and dark. And yup, I loved the shopkeeper.
By the end of the night I was singing… “Do you wanna have a bed time? Do you wanna go upstairs and go to sleep?” But I also found myself flashing back to Disney over the years. To where I was in my life each time.
I flash to the Black Cauldron and how it set my baby-pagan mind whirling with magic.
Sneaking into All Dogs Go to Heaven after we decided that Little Mermaid wasn’t worth what we had paid for it and we were justified in getting a second film. It began my trend of doing the same thing over and over again with theatres – pay for one, stay for three. Memories now embedded with Ayem Willing because he and I both loved it, with his being so complex that he brought costume pieces and snacks.
To Aladdin and my obsession with playing the cassette over and over and over again, until it needed replaced and I did it again. I still have the second one. Ah… welcome to Agraba… with waves of Robin Williams.
To Lion King, my mother and I sitting in a movie theatre on the big island, and when the Hawaiian grass skirts came out, all of the native islanders staring at the two of us, the only howlies in the room.
My feminist and cultural pain anger over the reconstruction ism in Pocahontas, to the point that I never finished the film. Fuck y’all white misogynist assholes was pretty much my take.
The Hunchback of Notre Dame where I struggled because I was hit with the same anger (I was such an angry baby butch), but couldn’t help be in love with my dancing Esmerelda doll, tying her up, and loving the Beata Maria solo. So hot, his obsession. The power struggles became porn.
Treasure Planet found me in Los Angeles, a date with myself on a day off between porn shoots. Fun games played with me, our quiet self-laughter, sprawling out in the empty seats of El Capitan.
Disney is embedded in the skin of my culture. It is laughter, frustration, fables of my time. When I think of Peter Pan, I think of a specific cartoon boy and no other Peter can ever live up to him. He was my first. Briar Rose will always be entangled with a woman who danced in the woods surrounded by birds, and Cinderella, no matter how ash-covered the books portray, still features shirt-clad mice.
In Disney films, it ends okay. It always seems to end okay. But life is not Disney, and I can’t explain how grateful and powerfully shaken I was when Up came out. When in the first ten minutes we see that life can be beautiful… then have pain as well. And not in a Bambi sort of way. I was shown a life unfolded, and it wasn’t ever going to be what it was. But it still ends up okay. But life is not Disney. The bad guys don’t always get slain or imprisoned. The good guys don’t always win. Angela Lansbury will not make the dishes dance for a misunderstood monster and his kidnapped guest. That story was made creepier by the dancing dishes I think, as it forgave it somehow, made the Stockholm Syndrome hit that much deeper. Kidnap me, take me away, and let the candlestick seduce the feather duster.
Even last night, a tear escaped as the two sisters slid down each side of the same door to the song “Do You Wanna Build a Snow Man.” The movie hits home because it is not a simple plot. It is not just another evil queen film. It showed more than the simple answers. Even if it ended Disney by the end.
Sometimes I wonder if the world will end Disney for me. When I kick off the mortal coil, will it all get wrapped up into a neat package, and all the pieces fall into place? I’m not sure I would want it to. I’m pretty blessed that I have gotten to see “backstage” a lot in the patterns of life, and seen why some of the “bad” things that have happened to me have happened. The warp and weft have created clear pictures over time, and as much as I have hated the suffering, the blessings of having been the kind of spirit worker that I am have given me that much. A heavy key ring at my side, the doors open, and I peer back. But I’m pretty sure the cartoon Hades from Hercules is not who I’ll be kicking it with on the other side. The man down there is not that blue.
Life is not Disney… but when I speak to depressed or cut away friends (including myself), I can’t help but want to sing…
Do you wanna build a snow man?
Because I do. I want to live in a world where we build snow men, where we let it go, where we find each other in the blizzard, where we find ourselves… even in the ice.