I’m a Disney Princess lover and a HUGE fan of all things Disney. I’m not ashamed to admit that I know the words to all the songs and have sung “Whistle While You Work” as I clean up the house in spite of the fact that I can’t actually whistle. Naturally, as a mother I have gone from just being a closet Disney fan to fully embracing my Disney obsession. Hey, when you have little kids it’s so much easier to justify being part of the Disney Movie Club and buying up all the DVDs every time there’s a sale.
Well, last week I sat down with my almost-5 and almost 2-year olds and put on a classic: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. I know that the film gets a lot of criticism for the whole “unconsented kiss” thing, which okay, I GET it. I’m feminist and I’m BIG on consent. But just to get this out of the way, Snow White KNEW the prince! She even told the Dwarves that she “fell in love” and that “he was so romantic, I could not resist” and that “someday my prince will come”.
What does that tell you? Well, it’s pretty clear that he’s her true love. He’s not some random royal dude riding through the forest and coming across some girl he doesn’t know; he’s clearly someone who is destined to break the spell/curse later on. In the original tale that wasn’t the case, and actually it’s a LOT creepier. Snow White is about seven years old when the dwarves take her in. It’s clear that “time passes” but not so clear how MUCH time passes. For all we know it could be seven years (making her 14) or ten years (17) but still she’s a freaking teenager. And this prince comes along and he says “hey, I like that pretty girl in the glass coffin. Give her to me and I’ll take her to my castle to put among my other weird ass trophies” or that’s how it comes across when I read it. There’s no kiss, but the jolt of the coffin his men are carrying bumps the piece of apple from the sleeping girl’s throat and she wakes up. Then there’s this whole thing where they call the wicked queen to the castle for the wedding and make her dance to death in iron shoes from the fire, but whatever.
The point is that Disney thought that it might be better received if the prince kisses Snow White because he’s sad to have lost the girl he’d been searching for all that time. The dwarves likely allowed it because this guy is clearly the prince Snow White sang about. And the kiss is the freaking antidote to the curse! It says so right in the witch’s spell book.
“The curse of the sleeping death can only be broken by love’s first kiss”. Not sure how that would work if Snow White didn’t have a true love before biting into the apple, but it doesn’t say “until some random dude comes by and kisses the victim” so what exactly is the problem here?
Consider the viewpoint of the prince for a minute; he thinks she’s dead. He’s kissing the girl he loved goodbye and is surprised that she wakes up. Yay, happy ending! The prince came and they were reunited. He’s not some random guy, they had a (brief) history and the beginning of the film to set up their story and Snow White obviously was waiting for him to come find her someday. This is not the story one should be criticizing for lack of consent. The original fairy tale, certainly! The one Sleeping Beauty is based on, again definitely! But the Disney version is NOT that and there’s so many other things I take serious issue here with!
What could be worse than a kiss that breaks a spell? Well, for one thing Snow White is TERRIBLE!
No, really, she is just AWFUL! Her shrill voice aside, here’s the things that really make me wonder if that sweet exterior is all an act of a sociopath or at the very least a spoiled brat.
She plays with the prince’s affections
Okay, so this might be one of those “it was a different time” sort of deals, but I really don’t get the whole love story of her and the prince. She’s singing at her wishing well, saying “I’m wishing for the one I love to find me today.” So what happens? The prince rides by, hears her, and hops the wall of the courtyard to serenade her. And she runs away! I don’t get that.
She could have stayed and said “hey, my stepmother dressed me in rags and treats me like a slave. I’m the true heiress to this kingdom. You should take me away right the hell now and then together we can wage a war and take back my kingdom!” But does she do that? Nope!
She runs up to her little tower, plays the shy little maiden and he’s pouring his heart out to her in song in pure Disney style. And she kisses a bird, has it fly down to him to kiss him on the lips, and then she just closes the curtains and leaves him there. He’s standing in the freaking courtyard of a palace he wasn’t actually invited in, and Snow White doesn’t even seem to care at all. Oh no, she’s just going to play hard to get while her stepmother stares daggers at them from another window.
The queen is an actual WITCH! She could do anything to that prince that she liked. She could cast a spell on him to make him fall for HER. She could turn him into a wild animal. She could kill him or have her guards kill him right in front of Snow White. I’m having a very hard time suspending belief here that the queen would actually have let the prince hop the wall without any guards or hired assassins coming out to kill him. And this is even MORE unbelievable when she later discovers that he is literally the antidote to her curse on Snow White!
WHY would she not have had him killed? WHY would Snow White have even put him in that position? Is this an old-timey thing? Were women really supposed to demure even if the guy was potentially in danger of being locked in a freaking dungeon full of skeletal remains of prisoners who were clearly starved to death and had pitchers of water just beyond their reach?
Which brings me to my next point…
Snow White HAD to know that the queen was evil
It’s never explained what exactly happened to her father, the king, but technically this IS Snow White’s kingdom. SHE is supposed to be the one in charge of things. Yet somehow it’s accepted that she’s to become a scullery maid. So she’s working WITH the servants and we all know that servants would be privvy to a lot of the seedy underworkings of the castle. Somebody had to be noticing that people were going into the dungeons and not coming out. Probably GOOD people, too, because an evil queen isn’t likely to punish evil people for doing evil things because HELLO, EVIL!
Are they made into her own macabre decor for her dungeon?
What exactly is “the penalty” if her underlings fail her anyway? Is it death? Probably, but not specifying HOW is part of the mystery. If you look in the background of the dungeon scenes there are a LOT of skeletons. Who were those unfortunate souls who wasted away to nothing but bones? Were they servants who were perhaps fond of their true monarch and had somehow tried to put Snow White on the throne? Did Snow White know about them? Did she ever wonder what happened to them? Did she just turn a blind eye?
Seriously, this queen is so clearly bad news and Snow White is just all “la la la, singing a song about having a prince come find me even though I am the rightful heiress to this kingdom”. She could have rallied the servants to her cause. She could have gotten word out to SOMEONE who was loyal to her father. Hell, if she wanted a prince so badly she could have sent out envoys in secret to go out and tell every other monarch that she needed a husband and they might all have banded together to free her and kill the queen.
But noooo, that’s not our princess! She would rather sing to the birds and scrub the stone steps of a courtyard; and seriously that makes even less sense! Honey, you’re outside! The steps are NEVER going to stay clean so maybe just sweep them off and call it a day, okay?
She didn’t care what happened to the huntsman
Okay, so she’s off in the glades with the huntsman who was basically threatened to kill her or else (“you know the penalty if you fail”). Obviously something very bad will happen if he doesn’t do what he’s told to do, but he risks his neck for Snow White because she’s his Princess and he isn’t willing to kill an innocent girl.
Snow White learns that the queen wants her dead. So she runs away into the woods. But does she even think of that huntsman again? Does she wonder if he’s okay? Is there an unfinished sequel where she goes back to her kingdom after waking up and asks if the guy is okay because clearly the queen figured out that he tricked her? WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED TO THAT POOR MAN???? Did the queen kill him and his entire family before setting off to find Snow White? Was it on her to-do list after crushing the dwarves with that boulder? Did Snow White ever think to reward him for sparing her life and telling her of the queen’s plan? Somehow I doubt it because she’s very self-centered and seems to just expect others to do what she says because she’s Snow-freaking-White. Did you not listen to the beginning of that song? Well, let me refresh your memory…
She didn’t freaking clean the house, the animals did all the work!!!!
Let’s get one thing straight: Snow White did fuck all and expected a bunch of forest animals to pick up the slack for her so that SHE could have a place to stay (maybe) with the owners of the house she just broke into. She knocks on the door, nobody answers.
“Guess there’s no one home,” she says before inviting herself in through the front door. She sees that the house is a disaster and starts tsk tsking the fact that nobody has ever cleaned the place. “You’d think their mother would–” she starts off saying.
Their mother would WHAT, Snow? Get off her lazy butt and clean up the place to your standards? Now my house isn’t nearly as bad as the dwarves’ cottage, but I’m sure that the washing machine covered with dust would probably just as easily offend your precious princess eyes. Seriously though, you’re in a cottage that is dirty but nobody is home to actually clean because they are out working. Do you think they have time to clean? NO! And did YOU even have time to clean the whole place by yourself? Probably not, but then YOU didn’t have to waste so much time and energy DID YOU? NOOOOO, you just had your animal friends whom you JUST met do all your work for you.
“Now YOU wash the dishes” she says to the animals by the sink, “YOU tidy up the room” she says to another bunch of critters, “YOU clean the fireplace” she says to the next group, “and I’LL use the broom”!
First of all, HOW is that a fair deal? Okay sure, let’s have forest animals do all the drudgery of washing the dishes, cleaning the cobwebs out of the ceiling beams, and meanwhile here’s this spoiled little rich girl twirling around with a broom and a dust rag and singing her little song. She piles a bunch of clothes onto a young buck and doesn’t even bat an eye as he stumbles out the door to drop this load of washing into the pond for her. And who is washing that laundry? NOT Snow White! Heavens NO! She is far to perfect to be concerning herself with actual scrubbing and leaves that to the raccoons and the turtles. The birds will hang her washing for her on the line to dry! She’ll sweep the front step and keep singing away as the animals do all the work she said she would do.
And then as a reward for all that work she goes upstairs and falls asleep on the beds without even bothering to turn out the lights or put on her own blanket, because why bother doing that when you have furry slaves at your beck and call willing to do every little task for you?
To add insult to injury, those poor little forest animals didn’t even get to rest after all the work they did. They had to hightail it out of the cottage not even 5 minutes after they climbed onto the beds for a nap.
Snow White doesn’t give a damn about the dwarves’ safety
Grumpy is the voice of reason here. He points out that the queen is evil and a witch and she could “swoop down and wreak her vengeance” on all of them. Snow White doesn’t seem phased by this. “But she doesn’t know where I am” she replies cheerfully. Then she bribes them with baked goods and a clean house knowing full well that they would agree to that (and also knowing that she has an army of forest slaves at her disposal). But we ARE talking about Snow here, and maybe she just is oblivious to her privilege in this case.
She is also pretty damn bossy for someone who is essentially a house guest
Okay, is it gross that the dwarf men don’t wash their hands? Yes. Did Disney just want to make a silly song about washing and eating with manners because it’s a family film? Also possible. But the way she goes about her request is pretty much a demand. What would you say if you invited someone to stay with you and they immediately pulled rank and told you that you couldn’t have a bite to eat until you made yourself more presentable for dinner?
Personally I would remind that house guest whose house it is!
She treats her servant animals like crap after all they did for her!!!
I just can’t get over this whole animal servant thing! If I could train my cats (or even my kids) to do all my chores for me while I cheerfully sang a song MAYBE I might understand Snow’s motives a little better, but I really don’t think I will ever understand WHY they put up with her after this!
So you’re a little exploited forest animal working for your new unquestioned mistress who somehow controls your will by singing. You’ve worked your little paws and beaks and tails off for her gain and then you see this creepy old woman in the forest coming toward the house. You sense immediately that she’s evil and try to warn your mistress. But instead of thanking you, she shoos you away and scolds you. She takes the creepy old lady into the house even though she has been told numerous times in the past 48 hours (or less) that the queen is a witch and can disguise herself as anyone and that she wants to kill her.
Now if I was that forest animal I would be thinking “you know what? SCREW THIS BITCH!” Before she came along life was just fine. At least there won’t be any more dishes to wash or laundry to scrub!
But no, these forest animals are much more forgiving than I would be and they run off to the mine to tell the dwarves (who are also slow at figuring out what’s going on) and then what do they get in the end for all their trouble? Snow White leaves with the prince. It’s back to the forest for you, little animal slaves! Snow will have human servants to boss around in her new palace. Which brings me to my final issue with this princess…
Snow White doesn’t care about her own people
The queen is dead. Presumably the king was dead long before this adventure began. So while Snow is slumbering in the forest for a year or more (it was never specified how many seasons passed) the kingdom Snow abandoned when she ran into the forest has been without anyone to rule it. What happened to that kingdom? Shouldn’t Snow have had the prince take her home to her OWN castle first? Would that not have crossed her mind at all? Even if she’s super keen on marrying this guy she met once a year ago (or longer) because of true love or whatever, she should still think about maybe stopping by her own lands and making arrangements to have them tended to while she joins the kingdoms by marriage. I know Once Upon a Time addressed this, but THAT Snow was way more awesome than this animated first draft of the character.
I don’t even see them as the same person because the OUaT Snow was at least considerate enough to LEAVE so her friends wouldn’t be in danger. THAT Snow willingly took the apple, knowing she would be under a curse, because it would save the people she loved.
But this one is either a closeted sociopath who likes to force others into doing everything for her, or she’s just incredibly stupid and can’t see her own privilege.