I’m sure that some acceleration teachers spent their first few post-work hours drinking or enjoying the sunny weather in a park somewhere. Or both. But seeing as how I’m headed out to the lake tomorrow, I spent the afternoon tidying up, making snacks to take with, and lying on my couch, watching Hercules.
That’s where I found my inspiration for this blog entry.
Long ago, I accepted that my favorite children’s films are generally not the most popular- with the exception of Aladdin. That’s another blog entry for another day. I will say that I tend to like films that are rich in historical background, have at least veiled references to a culture other than anglo, and have orphans who make it big.
The Greek-themed film fits all of these criteria and more, but unfortunately not a whole lot of people share my high opinion of this greatness. While Hercules was a big hit at the time it came out, it’s not one of those “classic Disneys” that you think of immediately. Why?
Perhaps a particularly memorable comment from my mother will offer some insight.
“I don’t think we should see that movie again – that song said the story was the ‘Gospel Truth’ and that’s just not right. I didn’t like it very much.”
Alllrighty, then, so maybe it causes a small divorce from reality with the whole “using Greek mythology as historical truth” thing while also pissing off the Christian/conservative half of the country, but other than that, Hercules tells the truth to kids in a way that Disney doesn’t in other films.
Think about most classic Disney films: Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Beauty and the Beast, Little Mermaid…all about fairly beautiful-but-not-much-else girls singing in/to nature and eventually marrying up while also changing themselves and giving up their lives to please their man. In fact, this is probably why Megara isn’t included in the “princesses,” because her story is too real to be princess-y.
Well, damn, Disney. I know that those stories came from a different time…but…c’mon!
The good news: a lot of the more recent films have dealt with real-life issues and had bigger lessons to teach to their viewers. But in 1997? Hercules was ahead of its time. Which, when you think about it, is a little disturbing that 1997 was too soon for that. Good God.
Enjoy my little list of proof of Hercules’s real talk storyline below, and then rewatch your favorite Disney:
– Hercules has kind surrogate parents who love him for who he is and help him become his true self, which luckily happens more often than people realize.
– Meg gets screwed over by a guy she gives everything to…and then her snarky “friend” won’t let her live it down.
– Hercules gets a lesson in humility when he realizes that he’s not the best at everything, and that Meg isn’t impressed with what a badass he is.
– Meg is sarcastic, witty, and even a bit snarky. Real girls don’t take crap from anyone: prince, hero, or demi-god.
– Hercules realizes that even though he wanted to be like everyone else, that was a stupid goal because he’s better off being exactly who he is.
– Meg is self-sufficient. Damaged, yes. But still capable of handling herself.
– Hercules gets all goofy and stupid over some girl, and totally forgets the whole “Bros before Hos” rule, which totally pisses off Phil.
– Hercules FINALLY finds a place where he belongs, after all his searching.
– Okay, so Meg picked the wrong guy – she still bounces back, and when she gives another guy everything, he gives her everything back.
– Hercules doesn’t choose to become super-famous and immortal. Instead, he picks the steady, down-to-earth life with the woman he loves. Beautiful, sweet, non-misogynistic, and – wait for iiiiit – realistic.
Two overall lessons we learned:
Just because you make bad choices, that doesn’t make you a bad person.
Real life, people. Lessons that are useful. My secret inner Disney princess. Situations that they will encounter in the future. Also, Greek gods with fantastical powers. Hats off, Disney.