The Little Mermaid
Maria Jose Bueno
University of North Texas
The Little Mermaid
Movies reflect current American values. Symbols and signs of these shifting values creep into every aspect of the American people’s lives. The entertainment industry provides an example by depicting the powerful influence animated heroines have on cultural trends. In animation, theheroine archetype has come to mean the “ideal person”: a symbol of the qualities, attitudes, popular trends, and those socially acceptable norms which are the most desirable. Disney is one of the most important and most recognizable names in today’s society. Everyone knows the company and what it stands for. Every one around the world is exposed to its characters. Everyone knows their story. It’scharacters range from funny looking bugs to wonderful princesses of Asian decent. Disney has infiltrated every aspect of our society; the TV, movies, books, lunch boxes, toys, songs, our values and our imagination. Our society has come to think that everyone will get a perfect ending and there will be a prince charming on the way to save all women from their problems. What we forget to tellourselves is that all of this is fiction, these are called fairy tales for a reason but when we are little we do not know any better. We just know what we see and that is how we learn. There will not be a prince charming, and no one will fix our problems we will have to do it for ourselves.
One of the great stories of that Disney has created for children is the story of The Little Mermaid. At firstglance it is a story about unconditional love and the lengths she goes to get that love and her happily ever after. Though what one does not realize are the hidden elements that are in the movie that help create an ideology for our society. I will look specifically at The Little Mermaid within the story and analyze how the ideologies of hegemonic femininity. This story has hidden meanings of classstruggles and gender struggles, identification struggles, and more yet the struggles are implicitly announced. They are covered with a story about love, catchy tunes, and funny characters.
The impact that The Little Mermaid has represented for our culture can be viewed in a survey done in a college campus where students were asked to read the novel that was The Little Mermaid was based on. TheLittle Seamaid, the story of The Little Seamaid is based on the story of struggle through social classes. A washer woman who falls in love with an elite man ( Sun, & Scharrer, 2004). The struggles of class are not implicit claims in the new version of the mermaid but there is a very explicit concern with trying to belong to another world. This world I want to examine and explain as the world ofthe white man. The results of this particular survey explained that the generation of children that grew up with The Little Mermaid did not like the fact that it was based on something else, and did not like the fact that this story was supposed to be a struggle between classes. The children of this generation have it embedded in their minds that it is a story about love with a happy ending, yet itis so much more.
Ariel, although only sixteen, is quite well-endowed even with her breasts covered by seashells. Because she is as scantily clad as possible, she is sensual as well as beautiful. She has startlingly red hair. When first encountered, the audience learns Ariel suffers from "the grass is always greener" syndrome even though her own world is full of fantastic things. Whatever isinaccessible must be better than what is available. She is attracted to people and to the land because these are so foreign to her. Human technology that she finds on the seafloor arouses her considerable curiosity about them. Curiosity leads her to investigate the human ship where she sees Eric. She falls in love with him at once because of his looks.
Ariel, like the other Disney heroines, is...