This weekend was both productive and unproductive. We made a delicious (to freaking die for) salsa. It rivaled that of our favorite Mexican food restaurant–Los Amigos in Maryville, Tennessee. Recipe is here.
I also made a concentrate for chai that tastes just like the chai I had in India. One of the best memories I had from India was sitting around with the new friends I’d made, sipping chai, and gossiping. Guilty pleasure for sure.
Sean and I really like to bake together. We’re destined to be a fat, old couple licking batter off their fingers before giving each other a kiss. So we made brownies. I made them in a larger pan than I usually do, and they were deliciously fudgey and thin. The edges are my favorite part, so maybe I should invest in one fo those every-brownie’s-an-edge-piece pans.
After we feasted on all things sugar (chai, salsa [tomatoes are sugar…], and brownies), we sat on the couch trying to decide what to do with the rest of the night. While Sean checked his email on his computer, I looked at Disney song videos on YouTube. Another guilty pleasure… because I know all the words to most every Disney song. I want to marry Disney movies.
I started by watching songs from my all-time favorite “The Little Mermaid.” I watched and sand along to “Part of Your World” and “Under the Sea.” Sean laughed as I sang along and said, “Aren’t these considered racially insensitive?” Well, way to ruin a Disney moment. Yes, Sebastian is unmistakably Jamaican-sounding, which would imply that he happens to be black, but not necessarily!
It got me thinking, though. Is there an excuse for Disney to be so culturally insensitive in the majority of it’s films? On one hand, perhaps they are attempting to be historically correct. Many Disney movies are based on historical happenings or oral traditions and literature. As much as we hate to admit the inadequacies of our historical pasts, there were lots of mean things that happened back then. The majority of Disney movies don’t take place in America (even though they all have American accents). Mulan, for example, is based on an actual Chinese legend:
The Chinese legend of Hua Mulan centers on a young woman who disguises herself as a man to take the place of her elderly father in the army. The story can be traced back to The Ballad of Mulan. The earliest accounts of the legend state that she lived during the Northern Wei dynasty (386–534). However another version reports that Mulan was requested as a concubine by Emperor Yang of Sui China (reigned 604–617).
Therefore, songs like “I’ll Make a Man Out of You” and “A Girl Worth Fighting For” are generally representative of the notion of gender roles during that time period in China. That, and the emphasis of the movie is the fact that Mulan, who seems to fail at being what is considered a proper Chinese woman, disguises herself as a man and eventually succeeds. The whole movie is about Mulan going against gender roles, and songs like these two illuminate her struggle.
I could go on and on about the beginning of jazz in France as portrayed by “The Aristocats,” or patriarchy in Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Little Mermaid” in a country where an obvious monarchy exists. I could lecture blog-readers about the morally altered portrayal of “Aladdin” which was based on an Arab folktale that Disney altered to be more appropriate for audiences.
“The original story was sort of a winning the lottery kind of thing. When we got into it, particularly coming in at the end of 1980s, it seemed like an Eighties ‘greed is good’ movie. (…) Like having anything you could wish for would be the greatest thing in the world and having it taken away from you is bad, but having it back is great. We didn’t really want that to be the message of the movie”- Ron Clements
I will admit that Disney does have a rather hit-and-miss history, but because I love Disney movies too much, I want to give them the benefit of the doubt. I want to believe that their intentions are good and wholesome. And I want to be able to watch their movies and sing along and not feel guilty for doing so…