When Disney Movies Go Terribly, Horribly Wrong

I watched Babes in Toyland once growing up, and I’ve had it in my head for a long time under the “good movies I’d like to watch again sometime.” Netflix added it to the collection a few weeks ago, and I so I sat down last night to watch it with the kiddos.

Oh. My. Golly.

It starts off light and fun enough. Fairy tale people having fairy tale problems. Annette Funicello is always a plus, and the songs weren’t too bad. About what I expected from a movie I’d watched once as a kid and remembered being good. The plot is simple: two fairy tale characters want to get married, and a villain wants to derail that. And how does he do that? By hiring two goons to drown the boyfriend. Fair enough. And true to plan, they knock him over the head with a  mallet and cart him off to throw him into the ocean.

Until . . .

They notice there’s a “Gypsy Camp” on the way to said ocean. And since Gypsies like to buy children, why not sell the guy to the Gypsies? Nothing like reinforcing a stereotype for kids watching the movie, right?

And then Annette–now without a fiance–must face the awful truth: she’ll be without someone to take care of her. Cue the musical number.

Cursed addition and subtraction! How ever will a woman be able to handle it all without a man to help out?

And then the Gypsies show up for a song and dance number:

Followed by this “gem” sung by the fiance dressed in drag (sorry–couldn’t find the video clip):

And why stop there? We finish our traipse down cringe-inducing clips with this great song about how girls are essentially toys created for guys:

You can’t make this stuff up, people. I recognize that a lot of this has to do with culture shift, and what was acceptable in 1961 is definitely UNacceptable today. But still, it’s amazing to me what was so commonplace at the time, and how it can really undermine a society on a fundamental level.

Some of you might be rolling your eyes and dismissing this post. I get that. “It’s a kids’ movie. Lighten up.” And honestly, the bit with the Gypsies is something I can understand for the most part. I mean, here we are 50 years later, and it’s not really any better. (How sad is that?) But the songs about women? Really?  I don’t consider myself a foaming-at-the-mouth feminist, but how can you not watch those today and wonder what in the world they were thinking?

DC was watching the movie with me. Do I want her growing up thinking that unless she’s got a man around, she’s hopeless/useless? Of course not. But that’s the underlying message of those songs, and there isn’t even any wink winking about the subject matter like you get in A Secretary is Not a Toy (done 6 years later):

Anyway. Don’t think I’ll be adding Babes in Toyland to the yearly Christmas rotation. Ugh. And I’ll get off my soapbox now and let you resume your normal Monday routines.

2 thoughts on “When Disney Movies Go Terribly, Horribly Wrong”

  1. My favorite part of that movie was when the shrunken man, who is a few inches tall, has to save the *full size woman,* who can do nothing to help. You’ve GOT to be kidding me. How did anyone buy that?

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