Disney’s Snow White is about a princess whose beauty is coveted by her step-mother, the evil queen. In order to hold the title of “fairest one of all,” the queen orders Humbert the huntsman to kill Snow White. He can’t bring himself to end the princesses life and instead tells her to run.
On the run, Snow White happens upon a cottage where seven dwarfs live and hides there. The magic mirror revels Snow White’s location to the jealous queen. Through her black magic, she scams Snow White into eating a poisonous apple. The apple puts her into a death-mimicking sleep from which she will only wake with true love’s kiss. Eventually, the prince, who has searched for Snow White, happens upon her glass coffin, opens it and kisses her. She wakes and they live happily ever after.
While the (only) two women in the movie do talk once and talk about something other than the men they’re pinning after, the movie does not include two named women. The evil queen has no name, only Snow White does. As such, Snow White fails the test.
Women and Competition
Disney’s Snow White was released in 1937, so it may seem unfair to judge the movie on how it meets today’s standards of gender equality. As Snow White continues to be a prominent Disney princess, I think it’s fair to discuss how this movie fits in with modern culture.
There are two different stories I see in this movie. The first is a woman’s jealously of another’s beauty, which causes her to attempt to destroy the other woman. Second, this is a movie about a woman who can’t deal with the fact she is getting older and that the beauty she once had is fading. Both are problematic ideas.
This movie may have been made 77 years ago, but women still mimic those ideas. Girls where make-up, mess with their hair, by in-fashion clothing and sometimes go as far as surgery in an attempt to be beautiful. Many women lament growing older, as if wrinkles and grey hair lessen their worth. Even more, many women and girls attack other member of their gender if they look too attractive. They call them sluts and whores.
Women are still acting on an out-dated ideology that youth and beauty are essential to their self-worth. Many will go so far as to attack other women who they see as competition. It’s crazy to me that these behaviors persists after so many years.
Romance (aka Stalking) and Purity (aka Naivety)
Throughout the movie, we spend most of our time with Snow White. I’m guess she is somewhere between 16 and 18 years old. In the beginning, she sings as she works, attracting the attention of a prince. The stalker sneaks up behind her and joins in her song, rightfully scaring the princess.
“Did I frighten you?” he ask
The correct response is, yes! Who sneaks up behind someone they don’t even know like that? Please get away from me before I call the guards, creeper. Snow White, instead, becomes infatuated with his voice and beauty. I had flashbacks from the Wicked musical watching this scene. “You’re perfect. You’re perfect. So we’re perfect together. Born to be forever. Dancing through life…” These guys are just oh so beautiful. What more do you need to fall in love?
Snow White’s naïve nature is made to appear enduring. She breaks into a stranger’s home and starts cleaning it just because. She immediately trust the people she encounters even with the knowledge that the queen wants her dead. This girl has the brains of a five-year-old. Maybe that was the point in 1937. How could they have known adults would still be watching Snow White in 2014.
Eventually, her stupidity brings her to trust an old woman who is really the evil queen in disguise. She bites the poisonous apple and falls asleep. Thing brings up another question.
Death and/or Sleeping
Why do the dwarfs assume she is dead? Does the spell stop her heart as well? The story goes that she was just so pretty that they couldn’t bury her. They wanted to gaze at her beauty so much that they denied her body the honor and respect of a proper burial. Instead, they leave her in a glass case so that everyone can see her beauty slowly decay.
I suspect they don’t actually believe she is dead and instead think she is asleep.
The prince (who is never named, poor guy) hears of the maiden dead/sleep in the glass coffin and comes to investigate. This final scene in the movie is either disturbingly creepy or romantically creepy depending on Snow White’s state. If she is dead, then the prince is kissing a corpse that has been dead for who-knows-how-long. I wouldn’t be that huge of a deal except they have to open what I presume was a sealed coffin to make that kiss happen. Who does that?
The other option is, of course, that she’s asleep, making this kiss slightly less creepy. He’s still kissing a sleeping women he only met/stalked once. Since all love needs is youth and good looks, his kiss reanimates princess Snow White and they ride into the sunset.
- Good looks are the key to true love
- If you break into a house own by seven strangers and fall asleep in one of their beds, they won’t rape you or call the cops.
- Stepmothers suck
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