Saturday, February 20, 2010

Day 225: Disney on Ice: Confessions of a 'Tweener Mom

If you want to make God laugh, try this: Get pregnant, then say, "Well, it doesn't matter to me whether it's a girl or boy, because even if it is a girl, I'll never dress her head to toe in pink anyway." God will smirk, sit back with his arms crossed, and wait. Then, when your little girl is 3 1/2, he'll send you to Disney on Ice. Payback's a... um... princess.

Disney on Ice is how the female 2/3 of the Lindsay clan spent Friday... sitting in the fabled Boston Garden watching an ice show extravaganza, just like I did with my own mom at the Ice Capades back in the 1970s. To be able to carry on a tradition and make for my girl some memories like my own got me just a little verklempt as the lights dimmed and Disney's cast came sashaying out onto the ice. (Believe it or not, I'm going to be able to bring this back to Irish music, so bear with me here.)

The Disney "Celebrations" ice show is a lot of what you might expect: Mickey and Minnie Mouse are the hosts of a two-hour long sensational journey through a little bit of every one of Disney's biggest movie hits, in an on-ice variety show that includes the sinister Fantasia brooms (30 armless full-size flourescent brooms slinking around the rink under black lights), a Mad Hatter's tea party, a positively spooky Halloween skit featuring the skeleton from Nightmare Before Christmas (I think?) and Disney's favorite villians: Cruella DeVille, Snow White's witch, Sleeping Beauty's sorceress, et al.

Then there is the trip around the world that stopped in Japan (skaters donned miniskirt kimonos and fake Geisha wigs), China (red silk mini dresses), New Orleans (Minnie got to wear a purple sparkly flapper dress), and Brazilian Carnival, where the male skaters wore massive feather wings. We got a tiny taste of the music from each place in Disney's stereotypical way... "You want Mexican? Here, throw some chili on your French fries. Chinese? Here's some soy sauce! New Orleans? Let's put our only black skater on the lead in this one!"

And then, we got the princesses.

Oh the princesses.

As you can imagine, this was the apex of the show, when all the Disney princess and their princes slid out one by one, doing their "I almost made the Olympics" pairs skating programs to a song about falling in love, from the new Disney princess movie "The Princess and the Frog." This is when we first got to see Tiana, the next color in Disney's non-white princess kick, an African American princess. It is wonderful that Disney is slowly tripping beyond it's all-white, all-star cast to include the Native American Pocahontas, the Middle Eastern Jasmine, and the Asian Mulan, but that it took Disney 100 years to finally feature America's very first non-white immigrant culture is just a little disturbing... especially when, among its many accomplishments, this group created America's popular music, which Disney uses so freely in all of its movies... (What? You don't follow Disney princesses? Well, goodness, get educated here.)

Oh, I admit it. I liked the show. The skaters were fabulous, and I found myself thinking about the Irish dance extravaganza, Riverdance. Riverdance provided one of the very first professional outlets for an Irish step dancer who just loves to perform. It gives Irish dancers a place to be once they hit 18 and have outgrown their dance classes. Likewise for Disney on ice, I think. These young skaters who absolutely love to perform... where do they go if they don't make the Olympics? I'm glad they have these ice shows, and folks, I will tell you that the princesses and their princes were wonderful. Jasmine and her prince stole the show; it's no wonder that Disney found several opportunities to present them in as little clothing as possible; I suppose it's a way to placate the parents. Anyone with six-pack abs like those two would be most happy to go shirtless, I am sure.

Still, I do get concerned about how much our little gal might be buying into the cultural models we're seeing in these movies: poor girls marry rich and wear sparkly dresses. The end. Let me add to the chorus of bra-burners who say: Sorry girls, but unless you later become a shriveled up witch or a portly fairy godmother, you're S. O. L. with Disney. Disney will either assassinate you (Cinderella, Pocahontas, Alladin, Beauty and the Beast) or doom you to obsolescence (Sleeping Beauty). And if you're a Dad, you can be mean and controlling, or you can be the bumbling, silly guy who'll do anything for his little princess. Ag!

I want a new cultural model, Mr. Disney. We had so much fun at Disney on Ice, but right now, I'm a Disney "Tweener," caught in the neverland between princess and hag. Why is there no Disney story about this: the mom with the pocketbook who shells out cash for the overpriced Disney toys in the lobby...who will willingly buy Cinderella toothbrushes, polyester nightgowns, mugs, sippie cups, undies, costume dresses, Barbie dolls, ankle socks... to name a few of the Disney guns in our personal arsenal.

I remember when Martha Stewart first came out with her products in the mid-90s. I was standing in a bedding aisle at Target and heard a man say to his wife, "That Martha Stewart would put her name on a whorehouse."

Oh goodness.

Disney, I'm starting to worry about you. We like you here in this house. We recognize and accept your foibles, and we don't take it too personally that as parents, we are risking our very lives by walking into your stories. Loved the ice show, and so did our girl. But still... can you at least let us parents live?

1 comment:

Susan said...

I remember when I discovered I couldn't become a princess unless I married a prince. It seemed very unfair that I couldn't earn the title on my own.

Yes, we need a new paradigm. One in which the queens are elegant and smart and very much alive.