I don’t know if it’s me, but there seem to be a TON of Disney (and Disney princess) related spin-offs popping up all over the place. There’s of course sites like Oh My Disney, which crops up on my facebook every so often, and I will admit I do sometimes indulge in taking their silly quizzes or reading their little analyses on superficial things on a whim, but there’s also whole shows/movies made off of the Disney universe, such as Once Upon a Time, Maleficent, and the soon to come out movie-based-off-a-musical Into the Woods. There are also a ton of youtube video-makers doing songs and mini-musicals based of Disney or other songs (like from “Chicago”), some focusing on villains, some on the princesses, and some just a mish-mash of them all. I just saw one today featuring Elsa and why princesses don’t need a prince.
Most of these seem to be taking these well-known, Disney-fied versions of these characters, and then twisting them into something either darker, more “feminist”, more “realistic”, or some combination of the three. Which has got me thinking about the whole writing process and creative process in general.
I recently read a great article about John Lasseter – chief creative officer at both Disney and Pixar – and it talks about how he has a knack for choosing and creating stories with “heart”. And as much as people rant and rave about Disney characters (the princesses in particular) and their “passivity” or their “dependence on a man,” or get even more on their soap boxes about Belle’s “Stockholm Syndrome” or Ariel’s giving up on a whole way of life for someone she just met, to me, that’s not what these movies are about at all. It’s about heart. These movies are classic for a reason, and it’s why generations after generations fall for the charm and the spirit, despite what cynicism life throws their way later on. There’s a reason we (ok maybe just me) tear up when at the very end of the movie, Ariel whispers “I love you daddy”, why we can feel such an emotional connection with Rapunzel’s parents who never utter a single word, why Bambi’s mother getting shot or Mufasa’s death is always heartwrenching. Actually… notice how all of those references were related to family? The stories aren’t all just about the “prince” and the “happily ever after” (and arguably, Aladdin isn’t even a prince, and Mulan’s not a princess), but about the characters and how they develop, as well as their relationships with family and friends. I mean, would The Little Mermaid be nearly as interesting without the push and pull from Sebastian, Flounder, and even Scuttle? Would Rapunzel be as great without Maximus and Pascal?
Anyway, totally just stream of conscious-ing now at this point, but back to the writing process – I think it’s really interesting how people are putting their own spin on these old characters, and I often really enjoy seeing how people can change a character based on their own perspectives, or on their own interpretations of the motivations behind their actions. I guess it’s a wave back to around the time I was in middle school, where I discovered a bunch of books telling the traditional villain’s backstory – Wicked, of course was one that I read, along with a couple other of Gregory Maguire’s books. I am Mordred and I am Morgan le Fay were a couple other ones, along with Mists of Avalon. I guess there’s something about us as humans, which makes us drawn to the darkness, or to at least wondering what could cause one to fall into it.
At the end of the day though, these are all just based off characters that other people have created, and off of lore that others have made. Much like fanfiction, it’s taking known, recognizable forms of characters – the physical descriptions perhaps – and making their personalities and interactions move in a way the new author desires.
I think I’ve always found it a strange thing for myself to attempt to do to write fanfiction, and perhaps this is why. Though I actually quite like reading fanfiction (only good ones, mind you, which are not always easy to find), I don’t think I could take a character someone else has created and try to imagine them in a different world than they were originally in. I think if I were to write something, I’d like to be the one to create the new lore – the one that other people would make spin-offs to, should it be good enough to merit it. Though that’s not to say I wouldn’t retell a general overarching story a different way. Meh, I’m not sure there’s actually a very good distinction between that and fanfiction, but in my head it makes sense! Haha.
Anyway, I’m done rambling on this subject for today. Ramble ramble! Bye.
Oh. And all that being said… I still really want to see Big Hero 6. ^.^