Before our Disney trip, we introduced the girls to Beauty and the Beast. Though they’d seen several other Disney princess movies, we’d waited on that one because of potentially scary scenes. It was good timing, and they enjoyed it immensely.
Hannah is our emotionally perceptive one, and this is quite evident when watching movies. She gets so into the story and feels things acutely. Watching movies with her is like watching the Final Four with a Jayhawk fan – lots of jumping and yelling and sometimes tears.
As expected, she was absorbed with Beauty and the Beast, and things were going pretty well. Until the part where Gaston gathers the town people with pitchforks and fire to kill the Beast. Hannah jumped up with genuine tears flowing down her cheeks, and she yelled at the TV, “No! You can’t kill him! He’s her best friend!”
We comforted her and laughed a bit, then I thought about what she’d said. She didn’t see a weird love story between a girl and a monster, she saw a friendship between two individuals – a real friendship that wasn’t based on appearances and that required patience and compassion to get along.
There are scores of articles on the dangers of the “Disney princess culture,” but maybe they are just through the eyes of psychologists. I agree fairy tale plot lines are ridiculous (like pretty much every other movie!). But in the eyes of one of my girls, Beauty and the Beast is a tale of blossoming friendship. And isn’t that the best kind of love story?