The Little Mermaid: Movie Analysis
Disney Cartoons were in almost everyone’s memory about childhood, with gorgeous princesses and princes who always ended up together. However, as when we re-watch the movie as an adult, we can have a more critical insight into the children movies, and we realize they have a lot of negative messages. In this case, ‘The Little Mermaid’ will be discussed.
The amount of positive messages in ‘The Little Mermaid’ as well as other Disney movies are prevalent. The movies of this type often try to convey very simple lessons, the most popular ones are: true love, good people always win, etc. However, in the little mermaid, the message that impressed me the most is the true meaning of friendship. This is not as obvious as the true love message, but to me, it’s the most beautiful. The crab, Sebastian (can be called as the advisor of the Triton King) was portrayed at first as a strict man, then he finally went with Ariel (The Mermaid) to the price’s castle to support her in achieving her goal as making the price fall in love with Ariel and kiss her. We can see in the movie that Sebastian has gone through tons of troubles when he was there with the mermaid. However, he still stayed and help her with extra effort, such as building up the romantic environment for their love, persuade the king to help Ariel enjoying her happiness beside the prince. The fish, Flounder and the sea gull, Scuttle help Ariel in stalling the wedding between the sea witch - Ursula and the prince. They cooperate and work with each other perfectly, and I find that scene spectacularly entertaining. Basically, Ariel’s friends have done nearly 60% of the work that make the prince fall in love with the mermaid. With this detail, the movie provide the crucial but implied message: Friends are very important in difficult situations.
However, there are some negative messages in the film that can be observed by more experienced viewers. There are some details like the overt sexuality of Ariel or the detail Ariel giving up her voice, the factor that made the prince fall in love with her in the first place, but what I want to discuss here is the over-emphasis of appearance. The sea witch actually said this ‘You’ll have your look, your pretty face’. This misleading opinion could be troublesome if it enters a young mind, because children may think appearance is the only thing that matters to get a boyfriend or girlfriend. Another example is when Ariel was at the ship when the prince was having a party, and she fell crazily in love with him because of ‘He is very handsome’. This viewpoint somewhat reflects some real life situation called ‘Love at first sight’. However, the scene could be looked at a different angle and convey a different meaning: Handsome is the first criterion to make some on fall in love with you. The over-emphasis of appearance in the movie is not only portrayed by love story, but also by the depict of villain and the main character (Ariel) in this movie as well as any other Disney cartoons involving princesses and princes. The villain is portrayed as being extremely ugly, and it can be easily seen as the villain, just through the look, and the main character is very beautiful and can be also judged as kind-hearted by her pretty look. This could lead to a misleading perception of children with the world full of disguised people, as they may ‘judge a book by its cover.
Although the negative messages in ‘The Little Mermaid’ in particular and Disney children movies in general could be seen as troublesome, the positive impacts are stronger, in my opinion. There are two reasons: First, the film is filled with positive messages, and it has a happy ending, so it is safe to say it’s overwhelming with positive message. Second, the targeted viewers of the movie is children, mostly under 12 (or even under 10 nowadays), who are not able to have critical insight to realize some details like sexuality of Ariel or the fact that appearance is important. We adults can spot it easily, but children don’t often focus on minimal details like that, instead they focus on the big picture, which helps them overlook the negative messages and just enjoy the movie.
To summarize, the movie ‘The Little Mermaid’ as well as other Disney films with the same type does have some negative messages along with an overwhelming amount of positive messages. Therefore, it is a huge chance that children cannot see the negative details, and the films still have educational and entertaining values. Personally, I remember when I was a kid, I never realized those bad messages, but now when I re-watched I can see it pretty easily.