This movie is a little more difficult to talk about in the same way as the first two. Being the first of the Disney Princess films to be made and having been made in the 1930s and the characters (all of them) are some of the most basic stereotypes possible. I mean, come on, Grumpy? Sneezy? Dopey? How much more 1-dimensional can you get? The villain doesn’t even get a name in the movie. She’s only referred to as “stepmother” and “the queen”… I don’t know about you, but that might make me a little pissy as well.
The Prince has no name either, though Snow White describes him as being very ‘Charming’ which has led to years of jokes about women waiting for their “Prince Charming”.
So we have a prince, an evil queen, a huntsman, a slew of dwarves named after their most noticeable trait, and the only character with a name is Snow herself. None of the characters have a real back story or any real motivations, so when discussing feminism in this movie you are mostly left with the plot-line, instead of the characters themselves.
Many feminist’s hedge their problems in the fact that beauty is supposedly Snow White’s only redeeming quality in this film, but that’s not true. The queen was also quite beautiful, second only to Snow White once she began to become a woman, this was not a quality that made people love her or look out for her, because despite her beauty, she was still clearly evil.
It’s not outer beauty that wins the day, but inner goodness and beauty.
Snow White gets associated with fluffy woodland creatures. The queen gets crows and vultures.
Snow White has loyal friends (the dwarves, the prince, the animals) who work to save her, not just because of her beauty, but because she was a good person.
The queen falls off a cliff and the only two animals with an interest in her are the vultures who, quite literally, begin circling. No loyalty to the queen, not because she was not beautiful (she was), but because she was vain, petty, and vengeful.
Snow White is depicted as being kindhearted, slightly self-deprecating, hard working, and humble. How many of you think that the evil queen would have rolled up her sleeves and cleaned up the house of 7 little strangers, whether she planned to crash on their couch or not? How many of you think that the evil queen would have even known where to start if she’d had to do such a thing?
Snow is self-reliant and knows how to get shit done.
But all feminists see is that she cleaned a house. That’s so misogynistic.
That’s basically your only argument for why this movie is misogynistic right?
That and she’s pretty (just like the queen) and naive (she grew up very sheltered) and a prince saved her (not very well, I seem to remember a coffin.)
Well let’s talk about the pointed way in which this movie makes fun of sexist men in the most hardcore way possible. Out of the 7 dwarves, 6 immediately accept this strange women (supposedly a princess) into their home, in exchange for something that she could do to help them: cooking and cleaning. I mean, can you really see Snow swinging a pick-ax in a mine that was built for dwarves? Maybe the new Once Upon A Time Snow, but not 1937 Snow.
The final dwarf, Grumpy, is a hilarious caricature of sexism. Look at some of his lines!
Grumpy: Angel, ha! She’s a female! And all females is poison! They’re full of wicked wiles!
Bashful: What are wicked wiles?
Grumpy: I don’t know, but I’m agin’ ’em.
Grumpy: Hah! Women! A fine kettle of fish.
Walt Disney and the writers couldn’t have done a finer job making fun of misogyny.
Snow White was loyal to her friends, kind-hearted, and didn’t expect something for nothing. She made the best of her situation and didn’t sit around moping about how it was “unfair” that bad things happened to her.
I know that compared to later Princesses, Snow White is not as strong or bad-ass or adventurous. She gets scared easily in the woods and she never learned not to take candy from strangers, but the point is that her personality and self-reliance in the face of obstacles and evil are lessons that girls can indeed learn from.
And learning to clean up a house isn’t a sexist skill to learn.
Unless you’re part of Occupy, then I guess cleaning is always considered poor form.
Next week we find out why Jasmine is a hell of a lot more than the political pawn feminists pretend she is.