This week my friend Ryan shared with my the following post:
I was sitting at the DMV, registering the new car we had just bought and I was reading this jaw-on-the-ground. If you ever want to know what it’s like in the mind of (as my friend Wendi put it), a batshit crazy person, this is a fascinating article. Someone so terrified by the “normalization of homosexuality,” that she is seeing it everywhere.
As I read this insane (and repetitive) rant it wasn’t that her points were completely lost on me. Most everything she points out I can actually see. But it made me start thinking about all Disney movies. Are they not almost ALL about someone with a “difference” about him or her? The struggle to either come to terms with who they are, or teach the people around them that they may be different, but that doesn’t make them dangerous (or stupid, or evil, etc.), rages on in every Disney movie.
Was the real point of Dumbo that this “difference” that the other elephants hated and thought of him as “less than,” for what turned out to be his greatest gift. And he figured it all out, and his power came to fruition after a drunken night of his friend riding him. Now THAT’S gay…
Bambi was a story about how a child with an absent father and a mother who died grew up to be ok. Is this a story that was meant as the ultimate “cute” allegory saying that a child would be fine without a mother and a father? Those families that are different are ok? What in God’s name is this world coming to?
The Hunchback of Notre Dame, a guy is thought of as a “freak,” but after showing the world that his differences are what make him about the most awesome Disney character in history, the city finally accepts him. This has to be about normalizing gay, right? In this story, even government officials are working to convince him he is worthless and keep him hidden. But he finally “comes out” and defies the government and society’s general ignorance and shows them all how wrong they are.
I think the real theme Disney is trying to push is that our differences, and things assumed by society are not always correct (a ‘la Aladdin as the street rat prince, or a lion who decides shirking responsibility in hiding is the best way to protect the people he loves, from the truth of who he is and what he has done) are the things that make us great. The theme that society and popular opinion does not mean, “right.” I can’t really think of any Disney movie that doesn’t at least have a lilt around these ideas. So maybe what she’s saying is fairer than I’m giving her credit for. Not allowing idiot bigots, (who make sure to always tell you they aren’t bigots) dictate our own self-worth, but know who we are inside and never be afraid to be ourselves.
I’m going to take it one step further – as I don’t think this is a Disney-specific theme. I am pretty sure most all great stories again have strong roots in this theme. I’m going out on a limb here, but isn’t the unifying story of Christianity really solid in this same theme? The story of Jesus?
I do not really consider myself a Christian, but I don’t really consider myself not a Christian either. Maybe I’m just a commitmentphobe, but I really just like to believe in the possibility of anything, and I don’t limit myself in thinking I “know something” that I just don’t “know.” That is not to take anything away from those that do “know” a thing. If you honestly know in your heart, who Jesus was, what he did, what it meant and what is waiting for you after you die, an hold in the deepest places in your heart a reviled truth where there is no room for “maybe’s,” who am I to tell you any different? Just because I don’t feel I’ve ever “known” something like that for sure, doesn’t mean YOU haven’t! It just means I haven’t. I just always say, “I know what brings me comfort, but I don’t know for sure anything else…”
I want to be clear. This is NOT my attempt to conclude that Jesus was gay (and yes, I know there are those out there that have pushed something like this before). I personally don’t think Jesus’s sexuality, or absence of it is any more my business than it is with anyone else. We are all too focused on what people “are” or “are not.” And we focus on it because we believe it means something, but it really doesn’t. Anyway, as many of the people closest to me in my life have a great amount of faith in Jesus, and I just wanted to be clear that this was not an agnostic rant. This is my example of what I think this Well Behaved Mormon Woman would see if the story of Jesus were presented to her for the first time today.
Let’s see… A child is born and is the Son of God. So first we have a reoccurring theme throughout the story of Jesus, that beyond anything else, he was “born that way.”
Later he is baptized, an idea of essentially being “reborn” and the revelation is given of who he really is and what that actually means – he is no longer “in the closet” about his true nature.
He then goes out and becomes the quintessential rabble-rouser, and starts trying to “convert” people to his way of thinking. He is trying to “normalize” new ideas and different ways of thinking. Many called his rebellious points of view evil and saw only darkness in these ideas, but staying true to who he knew he was, he fought societies view of him knowing what was really true – even though it was not generally accepted.
Then “the people,” find his attempt to change traditions with these new scary teachings (you know, love and kindness, an taking care of those less fortunate than you) to be so fearful they have to get rid of him. After sticking with his guns, because he wouldn’t let society dictate him to be anything other than what he knew he was, he is arrested and tortured. Even a close friend denies he even knows him because of the shame he feels in regards to standing up to a wider held societal belief. But in his heart he knows “it gets better.”
He carries his cross (literally) to his own death where again he lets no amount of pain and suffering allow him to know anything more than who he is and what he is worth. Even the impending knowledge of death will not change his own self-worth as he knows this is who he was born to be, and knows that he is right. The ongoing ending is that not only does he continue to change minds with his wild ideas of right and wrong, but through time the “traditions” that so many were terrified would change – did. For the better and they continue today. A story that defies that simply “traditional” doesn’t mean “right.” Hmmmm… Let’s think on that for a moment…
Really though, I’m curious – how would this Well Behaved Mormon Woman view this story if she saw it for the first time today. Of course there is the Catch-22 that without knowing this story, she wouldn’t be a “Christian,” and probably wouldn’t have much to say about a movie based on the story The Snow Queen – gay or not. But that aside, what story can’t be twisted into being an advocacy of what you fear. As Freud said it once, “Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.” When we start to see only darkness in even that which is only good and pure, we start to become a less like Jesus, and a more like those who feared and opposed him.