7 Disney Movie Tropes That Are Problematic As Hell (Or Just Plain Stupid)

Image credit: Legion-Media

Disney princesses teach children about domestic helplessness and toxic relationships.

The best thing that can happen to a girl is Prince Charming

The fundamental philosophy of all Disney fairy tales is true love. It is what all little girls are encouraged to aspire to.

Not to education, self-actualisation, creativity, or career, but to an ideal husband that most likely does not even exist in the real world.

Of course, there's nothing wrong with love per se, but when was the last time you saw a knight in shining armour on your street? Cinderella endures all the hardship and humiliation only to finally catch the eye of the royal heir. And Snow White and Aurora stay asleep until they are awakened from their comas by their brave betrothed ones. So should we be surprised when teenage girls run away from home with the first guy they meet or get depressed because their classmates don't live up to their expectations? There is nothing wrong with telling kids that love is good.

Just make sure you also mention there is more to life than finding a good husband.

If you are kind and patient, happiness will find you

Perhaps the worst thing you can learn from fairy tales is inaction. At the most critical moment, Disney characters always get saved by fairy godmothers, talking badgers, genies, magic carpets, enchanted horses, or good magicians. In real life, however, such providence hardly ever works. Often, a person's fate depends only on their own decisions and actions. Sure, fortune favours the brave, but science also teaches us that it favours the prepared mind.

Prepare for that test, and you won't need to rely on a fairy godmother to save you in the nick of time.

The monster can be fixed

Belle from Beauty and the Beast offers one of the most dubious messages.

In today's parlance, she's clearly suffering from Stockholm syndrome, which makes her stay in an abusive relationship. The message is that you can turn even the worst monster into a prince with enough love and care.

Not only does Belle not try to escape the clutches of the monster who abducted her, but she also manages to truly love him. But while there is a curse in her magical world that can be broken with a kiss, in reality, there is no such magic. If a man disrespects or abuses you, you don't want to hang around and wait for a miracle. But then again, if you're dealing with depression rather than aggression, there is hope, but your partner might need professional help rather than a kiss. You also want to learn to tell depression and aggression apart, though, and Beauty and the Beast definitely has nothing to say about that.

A woman should know her place

Snow White makes the dwarves like her by cooking their food and cleaning their house, not complaining and singing happy songs. Belle wins the Beast's heart by running his castle for him.

The prince only falls in love with Cinderella because of her beautiful dress, and she is scared he might see her without it. And Ariel's chosen one is only too willing to dump her when he hears another woman's sweet voice.

All of these cartoons drum it into girls' heads that they should be quiet, submissive, and beautiful, or nobody will ever want them. And don't even get us started on supporting female characters.

The stepmother is always the wicked witch

Another Disney stereotype has to do with family relationships. It ties in with the previous issue we looked at. Almost all cartoon protagonists are poor orphans suffering at the hands of evil stepmothers.

Snow White is poisoned with an enchanted apple by her father's new wife, who is jealous of her beauty. Cinderella is systematically abused throughout her childhood and adolescence by her stepmother and her daughters. Belle, Ariel, Pocahontas, Aurora, and other princesses rarely have loving females in their lives.

There is always an unhappy father and an evil stepmother. The reality is most families break up for one reason or another. So it's essential to ensure children understand that a divorce is not the end of the world and that the new partner of the parent they're living with is just a human being who can be kind and deserves respect.

A person can be kissed without his or her consent

Even more questionable in today's society is the so-called "True Love's Kiss," which removes all spells and unites the characters forever. Even if they see each other for the first time and one is asleep.

In and of itself, this image is quite beautiful and romantic. But sometimes, it can be misinterpreted. After all, only in fairy tales do lovers understand without words that they both want the same thing. And what if the sleeping beauty doesn't want anything to do with Prince Charming?

In the real world, kissing a sleeping person without their explicit consent could lead to molestation or even rape charges.

Happily ever after...

And last but not least, we've got the happily ever after myth pushed by Disney in practically every production. Win the heart of the person you love, defeat the villain, consummate the relationship, and that's it; you've made it, you've arrived, and your life is going to be paradise on earth from this point forward.

But is it, though? Real life begins after the credits roll.

Weirdly, nobody's yet made an animated movie about the prince and the princes bickering over whose turn it is to do the dishes today, or who'll be taking out the trash tonight or which school their children will go to, or even which neighbouring country to invade and annex. But real life is made up of such little battles, and happily ever after is never the end.