Friday, 31 March 2017

Taking the Positives From The Disney Fairies films

Image credit: Flickr (Ben Sutherland), from 'Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure' (2009) Dir. Klay Hall
Eleanor has a slight obsession with Tinker Bell and the Disney Fairies at the moment. I say slight, I mean that she insists on watching 'Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue' on a near-daily basis and will only read the Disney Fairies stories out of the book of Disney-based short stories we read for bed every night.

I'm trying to contain my eye rolls over this. I'm not a massive fan of Disney, I have to admit. And the snob in me was ready to dismiss these films as contrived nonsense. But actually, there are some positives to be taken away from them. For instance ...

Tinker Bell is basically an engineer

She mends and makes, she problem-solves, she thinks logically and creatively. In 'Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue' we see her trying to work out how a car works and fixing a leaky roof with great ingenuity. She's practical, methodical and curious. She's actually a pretty good role model.

There are far more females than males

Despite the proliferation of princess films, Disney often don't do brilliantly on the female representation front. A report from last year showed that, in most Disney films, male characters get more than half of the dialogue. But in the Disney Fairies films, you have a female lead with five female co-stars, and much of the action is centred around them. I don't know what the line-count-by-gender is but it seems very balanced, possibly even tipped in the favour of females.

The female characters can rescue themselves

In 'The Pirate Fairy', the fairy friends go in search of Zarina who has become a pirate, are captured in the process and manage to escape. In 'Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue', Tinker Bell's friends go to 'save' her from a human house - then must rescue Vidia when she is captured whilst pushing Tinker Bell out of danger. In the latter example they are helped by Bobble and Clank, two 'sparrow men' (why the males can't be fairies too I don't know), but they are mostly there for comic relief and it's the girls who do much of the work. These are resourceful and brave characters who work together.

There is very little romance

I still feel a bit iffy about Eleanor watching romantic films, she's too little to be thinking about that in my eyes. Luckily there isn't an awful lot of romance in these films. There is a romantic sub-plot in 'Secret of the Wings', and Rosetta has a tendency to swoon over sparrow men. But other than that it's all very innocent. Tinker Bell even has a male friend, Terence, and their relationship appears to be platonic despite him having what would typically be a 'love interest' appearance.

It's about positive female friendship

The fairies are all good friends despite having different talents and personalities. Even Vidia, who started out as an enemy to Tinker Bell and often loses her temper, is welcomed into the group and learns to be a good friend. It shows girls making mistakes but being helped to learn by their friends. And it shows that you don't all have to be the same to be friends.

All in all, for films to get obsessed over, the Disney Fairies films aren't too bad. And talking about these positives is a good way to draw Eleanor's attention to them, and to encourage her to see girls as creative, brave, and loyal friends.

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