Last month I took one of my children to see “The Princess and the Frog,” the latest offering from Disney (coming soon to a Happy Meal near you). And no, I can’t tell you which child I took—he made me swear that I would never reveal the fact that not only did he voluntarily watch one of the princess movies, but that he actually liked it. (Oops. Sorry, Clyde.)
Really, though, an appreciation for the Disney princess movies is nothing to be ashamed of, especially in recent years when they have gone out of their way to portray the “princesses” as strong, independent women. (Think about Mulan, Pocahontas, and Belle.) So no, I don’t have a problem with Clyde enjoying the princess movies—or even with him using the princesses as role models. I might have a problem, though, if he starts modeling his behavior not on the princesses, but on the villains.
And not because Disney villains are so, well, villainous. No, the reason I don’t want Clyde using Disney villains as role models is because, frankly, they have got to be the world’s biggest collection of drag queens I have ever seen.
Think about it: in the (supposedly) female department there’s Maleficent from “Sleeping Beauty,” the Wicked Queen from “Snow White”(exactly what country is she supposed to be queen of, anyway—Transgenderia?), the Wicked Step-Mother from “Cinderella,” the Queen of Hearts from “Alice in Wonderland,” Ursula the Sea Witch from “The Little Mermaid,” and Cruella De Vil from “101 Dalmations.” On the male side there’s Captain Hook from “Peter Pan” (basically a drag queen in his “everyday” clothes), Scar from “The Lion King” (Jeremy Irons plays him as the “Queen of the Beasts”), Jafar from “Aladdin” and now Dr. Facilier from “The Princess and the Frog,”—the last two maybe the least successful of the drag queen crowd, but drag queens nonetheless. (And no, I haven’t forgotten about Gaston from “Beauty and the Beast.” True, he is about as far from a drag queen as you can get. Compensating, perhaps?)
Look, it’s not that I have a problem with drag queens in general, it’s just that the combination of drag queen and villain is a bit much: I’m not sure what message is Disney is trying to send with this (other than “Beware of Blue Eyeshadow”), but if they’re trying to warn kids away from that kind of lifestyle (and by that I mean a life of evil, not a life of accessorizing), I think they’re going about it the wrong way. Because, to the last man—er, woman, I mean, um, well, character—the drag queen villains are always the most interesting characters in the films. Who would you rather watch the Oscars with: Simba or Scar? (Simba: “I think Nicole Kidman looks rather elegant tonight.” Scar: “Darling, I’ve left more meat than that for the hyenas.”) Or even better: who would you rather be stuck in an elevator with: Snow White, or the Evil Queen? (Before you answer that, remember how annoying Snow White’s voice is, and how at least the Evil Queen carries snacks with her. True, they’re poisoned apples, but hey: a snack is a snack. And don’t forget: with Snow White you’d have to deal with the whole “alternative lifestyle” thing—you’d probably get out of the elevator only to be confronted by her reality show film crew. No thanks.)
Actually, now that I think about it, maybe the whole “drag queen villain as role model” thing isn’t such a bad idea. At least that way I can be sure that Clyde will never end up on the “Jerry Springer Show,” explaining to a hostile studio audience why he’s okay playing the submissive role to seven creepy old men.