Now don’t get me wrong, I love Disney movies just as much as the next seventeen year old human male, but I absolutely cannot stand the grotesque cultural inaccuracies in movies such as Hercules and Mulan.
These sometimes slight deviations from cultural fact to accommodate a better story line really get under my skin, and, while I can dismiss a few, due to their irrelevance to the movie’s plot or disturbing nature, the more glaring “liberties” tend to hit me in the face like so many moist sponges.
For example, in Hercules, Disney claims that Hercules is the son of Zeus and Hera, the king and queen of the Greek gods, when, in Greek mythology, he was actually the son of Zeus and a mortal woman. In fact, Hercules is this hero’s Roman name. In Greek Myth, Hercules was called “Heracles,” meaning “for the glory of Hera.” This was an attempt from Zeus to pacify Hera’s rage. This didn’t work and she ended up driving old Herc insane on at least two occasions, upon which he killed his family. This is yet another glaring inaccuracy, as the Disney movie suggests Hercules has a happy ending, while in the Greek myths, he ends up rather dead.
What really annoys me is Disney’s inaccuracies when it comes to historical fact. In Pocahontas, the main character is depicted as a fully grown woman, instead of being about 13 years old, as she was when these events took place. Now I understand that having a teen and a grown adult being involved with one another in a movie intended for children is not suggested, but the history buff in me still screams for justice, no matter how petty it may be.
This next creative liberty really pains me, as it’s from one of my personal favorite Disney movies, which is, of course, Aladdin. This movie takes place in the Middle East and is a visually stunning masterpiece with a solid story line and well developed, if not clichéd, characters. And while that is all well and good, if one takes notice of the architecture, they will realize that it is more akin to Indian architecture, including the palace, which is similar in appearance to the Taj Mahal. For those of us that prefer to ridiculously scrutinize every movie we watch, this inaccuracy is rather blatant, and could have been easily evaded.
The items mentioned above really annoy me, but not just because they’re wrong. Altering historical fact to align with a more romantic or visually pleasing storyline is rather insulting. I understand that Disney movies are supposed to be light and fun, but by changing these often serious facts, Disney is misrepresenting the history of these stories, and what we’re supposed to learn from them. For example, the Greek gods showed that they really couldn’t “keep it in their pants,” and this led to a slew of demigods that would cause the gods of Olympus a serious amount of trouble. Changing that fact, even in a kid’s movie, suggests that there is no consequences to our actions, and misrepresents the Greek deities and their many flaws.
The misrepresentation of historic fact in Disney movies is equal parts wrong and annoying. It shows history in a cute light, which completely misguides the viewer, and suggests that our actions don’t necessarily have consequences. Furthermore it makes my OCD tingle and vividly reminds me of several horrible book to movie adaptions.