Anyone who’s read BetaCandy’s articles about Disney’s portrayal of women like this one already knows where I’m going with this. On Saturday, I caught a fluffy Disney movie called Ice Princess.
The story’s about a girl (really can’t remember her name) who’s so phenomenal at physics she could get a full scholarship to Harvard if she completes an intensive project that puts herself into it. She’s not sure what she’s going to do, but she knows she loves physics. One day, she watches a professional ice skating competition (which she also loves) and realizes her project lies there. She goes to a local skating center and starts videotaping girls practicing for regional competition. Only that’s not getting her personally involved, so she decides to take lessons herself. Surprise! She’s good at that, too.
Skating quickly becomes dominant in her thoughts, though throughout the film she still uses physics to help her own skating and those of the other girls. But she starts to wiggle out of academic things to skate. All without telling her mother because, get this, her mother is uber-feminist and wouldn’t understand her desire to skate at all.
And when her mother finds out what’s been going on, she doesn’t understand. She sees her daughter blowing a future for something that has already changed the girl – her grades have started slipping, she’s wearing a lot more make-up, she’s changed her hair. The mom’s upset. They lose their connection and pretty much stop speaking. The last straw is when the girl blows the interview with Harvard regarding the physics scholarship. The mom asks her how she could give up her dream so easily, and the girl pushes it back on the mom, claiming the Harvard/physics thing was always the mom’s dream and not hers. She begs her mom to just come watch her skate so she can see what passion she has for it. The mom is too hurt. She doesn’t.
And it turns out the mom finally goes and watches the girl skate and has an epiphany. She was blind, you see, to her daughter’s true desires! She should have been more open and understanding!
So, the very Disneyesque, heavy-handed message of the movie is “follow your dreams.” Always a crowd pleaser. The issue I take with it is – the girl was just as passionate about physics. We were given no indication whatsoever that she wasn’t as interested as she seemed to be – she always had her notebook, she was excited to come up with ways to help the other skaters’ techniques using physics, she talked science all the time. I was, frankly, as taken aback as the mother when the girl announced she’s never really wanted Harvard/physics. Huh?
So the big message is “follow your dreams,” and the only slightly less obvious message is “silly girl, you don’t need to use your brain – that’s a far less exciting dream to follow.” And shame on Disney for making the mother “see the light” at the end, after making her over the top feminism apparent in the flick…I don’t care if she stipulated that the girl would have to enroll in college and take at least 2 credits per semester. She was proven “wrong.”
It left a very bitter taste in my mouth, thinking about all the little girls who went to see this movie and left all starry-eyed.