When I tell people I am a Disney kid at heart, very few believe me. For one, I’ve never set foot in Disneyland. The closest I’ve gotten to Mickey Mouse was that one time during a Disney on Ice show. I was a few rows away from the stage, with the iconic mouse character the size of a Polly Pocket doll. But from the time I was old enough to sign slam books until this day, the dream destination has always been Disney Studios.
I’ve watched almost every known Disney cartoon and Disney Channel Original Movie. On top of that, I hold no shame that I once had a glass-covered altar for my High School Musical movie franchise memorabilia. If these are still not convincing, I have engrained to my memory every possible princess song since “I’m Wishing.”
Looking back, I enjoyed the animated films because they were filled with magic and wonder. As a child, the stories convinced me that sometimes, all it takes to do great things is to believe in yourself. They weren’t just full of color and tunes that linger. These “fairytales” molded my outlook and perspective in life.
However, rewatching these films in my 20s, the questions and missing details began to pop up.
The princesses I looked up to at 8-10 years old began to seem dull and clueless, and the stories didn’t make as much sense as they used to. I felt like the journey of watching these movies went from being nostalgic to disappointing. My curious older self started to destroy my own childhood. I didn’t want to outgrow my love for Disney. Nonetheless, I reached the point where I started to think if the stories were merely tales for children.
When the live-action versions of the cartoons I grew up watching started coming out, I felt like my prayers have been answered. I was watching them again through a looking glass. For someone like me who grew up with Disney, the developments in these new movies weren’t trivial or simply for show.
They were empowering messages that we can always choose to be different or do things differently. Belle being told off for reading and showing for passion for knowledge and Jasmine standing up for herself and becoming Agrabah’s first woman sultan—these breathed a new life to the old cartoons I once knew.
The new, redefining moments in these live-action films proved that the stories were about more than just princesses-in-distress, fairytales, and magic.
It’s satisfying to see these films speak volumes, not just to children but people of all ages. While I’m unsure how many of these live-action films I can watch in my lifetime, I’m happy for the next generations who would grow with Disney and its magic.
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