The Impossible Fantasy:
How Disney films create an unrealistic expectation of life.
Before I could even walk I was exposed to the magical world of Disney - those wonderful Fairytales that tell us our dreams are possible. A seemingly harmless notion. As a child (and an adult for that matter), what is there not to enjoy about a film with a loveable hero, a happy ending and a great selection of pleasurable songs? Songs that consume the rest of your life and are so well known, that you struggle to meet someone who does not know the lyrics of at least one of these catchy tunes. On the surface, there really is not a great deal wrong with this Fairytale being a big inclusion of our life. However this perfect ideal that has consumed our lives for so long is likely to drastically alter the choices we make in the future.
I am 21 years old, and although I am wise to the world and know life is not the dream I had once hoped it would be, there is still a deep part of me that heavily clings on to the notion of my ‘happily ever after’. I still firmly believe that one day my Prince Charming will arrive and I will live the rest of my days in a state of perfect splendour. The fact that I still believe in this possibility – Disney as my only proof this could be reality – is actually quite laughable. I am becoming a living example that Disney will most likely be the ruin of many lives. I have become too picky in my selection of guys as I simply do not want to settle. I want to be swept of my feet and live everyday in ecstasy.
It, of course, is a natural fear that by waiting around for my fantasy, I will reject those who probably will actually make me happy because they are not the impossible Prince that I have imagined for so long. This fictitious creation that I tell myself is real, becomes more epic – and thus more impossible – with each passing year.
I am not the perfect woman, so would the perfect man truly want me, should he appear? Does such a man exist?
The most logical assumption is that he probably doesn’t exist. But even if he did, and he appeared at my doorstep in the flesh...would I truly want to live out my days with him? Again, the logical assumption is probably not. The idea of doing such is the fantasy but it is often quite clear that the things we think we want, we actually don’t. This notion is applicable in any circumstances, be it as trivial as eating a chocolate bar.
Even though I am fully aware that this is all an impossible dream, I am fixated on the fact that I will be an anomaly. I simply cannot let go of the idea that a fantasy can become reality. It has become an infection. An infection that has burrowed its way into the subconscious of many women and one that is being caught by the new generation of girls.
However it seems that it is not just females that Disney has infected. It has infected the substance of films as a whole. Watch any romantic comedy or drama, even thrillers and horrors, and more often than not, the Disney structure that we have grown so accustomed to is present. It may not be there in black and white, but it is always there lurking underneath it all. Take Pretty Woman for example. Vivian lives a dark life. She has nothing in her life and is forced to sell her body in order to get by. That is until Edward comes along and sweeps her away into a life of luxury. Although the path is uneven, she ultimately gets a happily ever after that rivals any Princess. This structure is a direct parallel to that used within Disney. The symmetry is apparent the most when we compare it to Cinderella. She lives a dark life – father dies and is left in the awful exploitive care of her step mum. She is swept off her feet by a kind stranger – she dances with Prince Charming at the ball. The road is not smooth – she loses her slipper at midnight and has to leave. But ultimately, it all works out.
As women, how are we supposed to grow up from the Disney ideal when we are still being exposed to the same things? Pretty Woman is a prime example of how more adult films can be worse in keeping the impossible fantasy alive. The characters are more real and the likelihood of the situation seems more accessible. But seeming accessible does not make it so. It is very improbable that if forced myself into prostitution, no man would ever come along and offer me a better life.
Living in our contemporary society, we are fully aware that a better life is ultimately down to ourselves. If we want something to happen in our lives, then it is up to us to do it.
Women are stronger now than they were at the origins of the fairytales, so this impossible fantasy shouldn’t still be relied upon by so many. The fact that it is the very foundation of many girls future plans is proof of how fickle we have become. Yes, we may be strong in one sense. We can follow whatever career path we wish, we can vote, we can instigate divorces. But deep down we’re still those fragile, naive little girls who dream of the perfect ever after and want an easy way out of life.
I know that by putting faith in fate and fairytale, I am letting the little girl inside of me take hold of my domain, but if I’m going to be truthful, I’m OK with that. Knowing that she is still there with her fictional knowledge of how the world works is something of a comfort. If I ever asked her to leave, I’d be opening the door to a lot of harshness I’m not prepared to fully acknowledge. I may have unrealistic expectations of men and I may end up alone because no real man has lived up to the hype. But the beautiful thing about life is that the future is still undecided. And just maybe my author is out there somewhere writing my ending. My ending that will utter those six wonderful words.
And they lived happily ever after.