It’s no secret that I’m a Disney fanatic. I can watch more than my share of Disney animated movies without my kids (and maybe even recite some of them by heart), and I dream of going to Walt Disney World without my kids. I secretly fantasize about debunking dumb Disney theories (Ariel did not give her voice up for a man! Anna and Elsa are not related to Tarzan!), and if I got an opportunity to tour the Cinderella Castle suite in the Magic Kingdom, I could probably die happy.
But that said, there are still some characters I can’t help but hate. Oh, I love them deep down, because hello, Disney, but I also wonder to myself just what exactly the writers were thinking. There are some so-called Disney “heroes” that are also just huge jerks. And you know what? I’m going to call them out. Right now.
The Blue Fairy, Pinocchio
Pinocchio is one of those movies that is hard for me to watch as an adult, and especially as a mom. I get extremely angry whenever I watch it now. I could go into lots of reasons (don’t even get me started on Pleasure Island and the donkeys), but since we’re focusing on heroes who are jerks here, I’m looking at you, Blue Fairy.
Oh, sure, she makes Pinocchio become alive. She promises to make him a real boy if he proves himself “brave, truthful, and unselfish.” But then Pinocchio gets repeatedly punished because he made mistakes that nobody warned him about! No one told him that people would lie to him, manipulate him, or exploit him. No one told him anything at all, except to listen to an annoying cricket who likewise doesn’t educate him about anything, and then he’s repeatedly punished because other people lie to him and use him. What the heck is that?!
Ariel, The Little Mermaid
I always loved The Little Mermaid growing up, and in so many ways, I still do. But sometimes, I just want to shake Ariel a little and tell her to grow up. Her character is essentially an entitled daddy’s girl who is handed whatever she wants on a silver platter, who is constantly told how special she is, and who, in her own words, is “the girl who has everything.” But is it enough? Nope! Again, in her own words, she whines that she wants more, stomps her metaphorical feet about not being treated like an adult, and throws temper tantrums when she doesn’t get her way.
And then when things go badly, what does she say to her father? “I’m sorry, Daddy! I didn’t mean it, I didn’t know!” Girl, please. It’s arguable that she perhaps didn’t realize just how bad Ursula was, but she knew damn well what the stakes were when she signed that contract and did it anyway. And she doesn’t do much to redeem herself by the end of the movie, either. But at least she didn’t give her voice and her fins up for a man! (I will not back down on this. Fight me in the comments!)
Peter Pan, Peter Pan
My kids are currently obsessed with Peter Pan, and I’m kicking myself for having bought the DVD because ugh. I can’t deny there’s a magic to the movie, of course, but there are so many cringe-worthy elements. There’s the obvious racism, which is abhorrent, but on top of that — I mean, let’s be real here, Captain Hook is not nearly as evil a character as Peter Pan himself is. He is awful. How he treats Wendy and Tinkerbell both are horrific, first laughing at Tink’s jealousy, taking delight in her insults towards Wendy, and then banishing Tink when she acts on said jealousy. Then with Wendy, he laughs as the mermaids try to drown her, flies off with Tiger Lily in his arms and flat leaves Wendy behind, and then dances with and kisses Tiger Lily… all while Wendy is forced to gather firewood!
But it’s not just Wendy and Tinkerbell; he treats the Lost Boys terribly, too. He takes no concern for anyone but himself, flat-out forgetting about Tiger Lily after defeating Hook until Wendy reminds him, not caring about Tink until she saves his life, and getting angry because the Lost Boys want a future that doesn’t revolve around him. Peter Pan is an all-around awful character.
Belle, Beauty & the Beast
Y’all, this one actually hurts me to write. It hurts me deep down inside. But I have to be honest, and that’s… well… that Belle, the heroine of one of my all-time favorite Disney movies is actually kind of a snob. Consider the song “Belle,” for instance. Yes, the townspeople are talking about how odd she is behind her back, but is she any better? She complains about how boring their town is, how there must be more to her “provincial” life. Side Note: One of the definitions of “provincial” is unsophisticated and narrow-minded, while another is specifically referring to being small-town or country. Either way you slice it though, it was pretty darn harsh of Belle, who swans around the town as if she’s better than everyone else there, singing about how she wants adventure, then gets the adventure she’s after, and then complains about that, too!
I still love Belle, and the fact that she has flaws does actually make her a more interesting character, in my opinion. But girlfriend is a little bit elitist and arrogant.
Oh, Brave. It’s a beautiful movie and it’s heralded so much for being the “first” Disney movie to have a woman not chasing after a man or getting engaged or what have you. (I’m sorry, Mulan. You deserved better.) Merida gets brownie points, at least, for legitimately growing as a character throughout the movie. She becomes a much kinder, thoughtful, less spoiled and self-centered woman, and so that redeems her. A little.
But the first two-thirds of the movie? Merida is awful. She’s spoiled rotten by her father, is utterly unappreciative of everything her mother has done for her and doesn’t care of the potential repercussions of her refusal to marry. I know, I know, it’s “feminist” and all, but the movie takes place in the freaking 10th century, so let’s keep context in mind here, and Queen Elinor literally tells her that there will be “fire and sword” if things aren’t put right — as in, there will be war, with potentially thousands of people dying. Does Merida care? Nope! And she is intentionally hurtful to her mother, over and over and over again, finding the spot she can wound the worst and hitting it every chance she gets. (Ripping the tapestry, calling her a beast, saying she’s never there for her — I could keep going!) She’s rude, disrespectful, selfish, immature, and spoiled. Like I said, she does grow as a character, so that helps a lot, but when people call Merida a great role model for girls, my eyes roll all the way back into my head.
Sofia, Sofia the First
Ugh, Sofia. How many of you have had toddlers obsessed with her? Mine have been, and she drives me UP. THE. WALL. She’s painted as this selfless girl with a heart of gold who always does the right thing, but in actuality, she’s a self-righteous little brat. She’s always portrayed as being right, and she’s smug and sanctimonious about it. She also wins everything, and she’s smug about that, too. Take the flying derby — she beats Hugo in one episode, and then the next time we see him in another episode, Sofia oh-so-sweetly reminds him how she beat him but says there shouldn’t be any hard feelings. Hey, Queen Miranda, how about you work on teaching your daughter some tact, diplomacy, and manners? Good gravy!
Or take how she treats Amber. She never fails to preen about in front of her, acting as if she is the best person in the entire world, and castigates Amber constantly for being… well, a realistic kid. But apparently, everyone should be as perfectly perfect as Sofia is! Eye roll. Pass, please.
Literally everyone in Auradon, Descendants
If you’re not into the newest Disney Channel Original Movies, then you may not be familiar with Descendants, a new franchise that imagines the children of Disney heroes and villains. In the Descendants universe, heroes and their offspring get to live in Auradon, where there’s magic, luxury, castles, and everything is beautiful and good. Villains — and their descendants — are forced to live on the Isle of the Lost. The people who came up with this plan were Belle and the Beast, which is pure character assassination, but I digress. Ben, the son of Belle and the Beast, decides to break the rules and invite four VKs, or Villain Kids, to live in Auradon, because, he reasons, they’re innocent. This is apparently the first time literally anyone in Auradon has thought of this, that innocent people are literally enslaved on an island living in a ghetto filled with poverty, violence, and crime, solely because they were born to the wrong people.
When the four VKs come to Auradon, the “good” kids are actually kind of uniformly terrible. They’re snobby, they’re bullies, and they’re shallow, conceited, and unforgiving. Even the ones who are supposed to be less awful, like Ben, Doug (son of Dopey), and Lonnie (daughter of Mulan) still don’t have the backbone to stand up for their new friends when everyone else in Auradon turns on them. And these are supposed to be the heroes, the good guys, the ones who do the right thing? Please. If that’s the case, then count me in the with VKs, who actually beautifully show what real friendship looks like.
Are there Disney characters you love to hate? Sound off in the comments!