For this engagement essay the article Mean Ladies: Transgenders Villains in Disney Films by Amanda Putnam and the chapter “Someday My Prince Will Come”: Disney, the Heterosexual Imaginary and Animated Films by Carrie L. Cokely will summarized, analyzed, and engaged with using the Queer analytical framework.
I chose these two articles because I felt that they played very well off of each other, touching on very similar topics. Putnam's (2013) focus was on Disney villains and how these characters “gender-bend”, possibly giving them transgendered identities. Putnam's (2013) analysis focuses on the characters in The Lion King, Aladdin, Pocahontas, Cinderella, and a few other Disney films. Cokey (2005) focuses on the Disney prince and princesses, speaking about heterosexuality and it's organization of gender. The focus of the Cokey (2005) article is on the characters in Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, and Pocahontas. I felt that in reading the articles that Cokely (2005) would have been a wonderful introduction article to Putnam (2013). As Putnam (2013) states, “As we already know, most of the heroes and heroines of the beloved Disney film franchise are hyper-heterosexual” (p. 147), which is specifically what Cokely (2005) describes – the falling in love, getting married, and living happily ever after in regards to gender organization. Putnam (2013) then speaks about the contrast to this, showing how many of the “villains display transgendered attributes” (p. 147).
I found “Someday My Prince Will Come” to be a very interesting and enlightening article, sometimes when watching Disney movies at face value, it is easy to miss just how heterosexually driven these movies are. Many of the Disney movies, as far as the prince and princesses, leave virtually no room for other interpretation as far as sexuality. The Disney movies put female characters into such a small box, “putting forth the notion that is is so “natural” for women to want to be married that it consumes not only their dreams, but that it also spills over into their waking thoughts as well (Cokely, 2005, p. 170), making females “exclusively heterosexual” (Cokely, 2005, p. 171). This idea really gets under my skin, not only does it not allow women to independent and pursue other ideas aside from love and marriage, but it also is incredibly heterosexist, oppressing any thought that a woman may identify as LGBTIQ.
Cokey (2005) goes on to speak about how often in Disney movies, that “while it may appear that the female is benefiting the most from marriage... this advantage comes at a cost” (p. 173). Often in Disney movies, the woman loses something very important in order to get married. In The Little Mermaid, as Cokely (2005) describes, Ariel not only loses her father, sisters, but also her identity (being her voice) in order to have this true love. Pocahontas, in order to be with John Smith, loses her family and her tribe. And in opposite of these,...