On the Net: Seven Disney Sins.

The Little Mermaid’s Ariel: Greed.

The grass sea is always greener bluer on the other side.

Snow White: Gluttony.

Forbidden fruit.

Beauty & the Beast’s Belle: Vanity.

Vanity fair. While Belle “herself is not vain, those around her seem to see nothing but her beauty…”

Cinderella: Lust.

Lust at first sight for a world that’s not her own.

Sleeping Beauty’s Aurora: Sloth.

Need I say more?

Aladdin’s Jasmine: Anger.

Well, she is feisty!

Peter Pan’s Tinkerbell: Envy.

Green with envy.

[Jezebel] The Seven Deadly Sins of Disney Princesses.

Images via Jezebel, via Flavorwire, via DeviantART.

On the Net: More Disney/Hipster Mash-Ups.

Yesterday I promised some more Disney hipsters, so here they are:

[BuzzFeed] A Collection of the Best Hipster Disney Memes.

[Geekosystem] 20 of the Very Best Hipster Disney Princesses.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Mean Girls 3: Disney Princess HIPSTER Version.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Super-Villain.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] It’s Hip(ster) to be a Mermaid.

Images via BuzzFeed, Geekosystem.

Event: Getting Our Pirate On, Christmas Party Style.

Last week I blogged about the perils of a pirate-themed party, and here for your viewing pleasure are photos from the event.

I attempted to keep my costume under wraps until the big day, but there was a (Wiki)leak and somehow everyone knew what I, and my group, were going as about a week beforehand.

As you can see from these photos, our group drew inspiration from J.M. Barrie, Disney and Steven Spielberg and went as the Peter Pan clan, consisting of Captain Hook (our one tie to the pirate theme) and Peter Pan, Wendy, Tinkerbell, the Crocodile, Lost Boys Rufio (from Hook) and Nibs, Tiger Lily and a mermaid. We were hoping to take out best costume, but seeing as we didn’t have the resources to build a paper mâ che boat (which the winning team did, evidently), we won an honourable mention.

My friend Laura (who went as Wendy) came up with the idea, though we joke about how I stole it and claimed it as my own. I originally wanted to go as Tinkerbell, as she and Wendy are the only two immediately recognisable female characters in the story, but you’ll see from the pictures that Zoe, who we went with as Tink, makes a perfect one.

So that left me without a character and the reality of resorting to unoriginal wench-dom for my costume.

However, just after Halloween, I was reading all these articles about the holiday being an excuse to get your kit off, celebrate being straight, and being a racist in disguise. Or rather, a racist in a racist costume, as this Gawker article points to:

“… When the entirety of your costume is ‘I am a person of a different race, LOL,’ that qualifies as a racist costume… Possible exception: You are going in a large group that includes Peter Pan, Wendy, and Tinkerbell. Then you’re a specific person, Tiger Lily! Just make sure you do not lose sight of the group, and be aware that seducing a men dressed as cowboys will be misconstrued.”

(What about seducing men dressed as Jack Sparrow?)

Being of Native American descent on my dad’s side, I thought going as Tiger Lily would be the perfect mix of originality, Peter Pan tie-in and not-racism. Triple win!

It turns out I was right, as I was the only Native American princess on the night, and while there were other Tinkerbell’s and Hook’s, none compared to our fantastically quirky ensemble.

Another shout out to Zoe, who fashioned this fantastic artwork of our group. The resultboth in person and on paperwas incomparable!

Tinkerbell loves the Hook.

A sea of pirates waiting tentatively for the best dressed announcement.

I overheard a lot of party-goers whispering about what the hell “that guy in the white suit” (his name’s Callum, thankyou very much!) was. Hello?! He’s the Lost Boy Nibs. Duh!

Ru-fi-o!

I believe I may have said something about there being an abundance of “Jack Sparrow-wannabe’s but could-never-be’s”… I take that back! In fact, there were several Captain Sparrow’s that could give Johnny Depp a run for his money… ;).

Well it’s not racist if you’re of that race, right… Right?

Frenemies!

Naww, typical maternal Wendy looking after the worse for wear Nibs.

What do you think of my mad Perez Hilton-esque, degrading annotations on compromising photos skills?

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] ’Tis the Season…

[Gawker] Is Your Halloween Costume Racist?

[Musings of an Inappropriate Woman] Attractive = Hot = Not Much Clothing On.

[Rabbit White] In Defence of Slut-O-Ween.

[Rabbit White] Defence of Slut-O-Ween: Straight People’s Pride?

[The Stranger] Happy Heteroween.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] The Witching Hour: Halloween/My Birthday at Witches in Britches Cabaret.

’Tis the Season…

… for office Christmas parties.

As opposed to the boring lunches a few of my friends have mentioned their workplaces hold, my employer happens to go all out on the Christmas party front.

Last year’s theme was horror (odd for that time of the year, I know), and I came up with a Bride of Chucky costume, complete with doll. However, I was struck down with the flu a few days beforehand and was unable to attend. The fact they had a dance instructor teaching partygoers “Thriller” just added insult to injury.

This year, however, the theme is pirates.

As a member of the planning committee, I fought tirelessly (and by I, I mean my friend Laura, as I was in the midst of a wisdom-tooth haze when the theme was being chosen) to push through our original idea of cartoons, and failing that, 1920s/’30s swing.

Unfortunately, misogyny won out, and a pirate theme it was.

Talk about unoriginality, though. There are about three options of pirates in popular culture to use as a reference point: Pirates of the Caribbean (how many Jack Sparrow-wannabe’s but could-never-be’s will there be walking around?), Pirates of Penzance, and Peter Pan. If someone were to really think outside the box, they could get a party of five (pardon the pun) or six together and go as The Wiggles and Dorothy the Dinosaur, with Captain Feathersword as the MVP of the group.

Notice that these three ensembles have very limited roles for women. And as a workplace that employs just as many women as men, pirates is very limiting to the fairer sex.

Serendipitously, I happened to happen upon a three-year-old post by Rachel Hills discussing exactly this.

“‘I didn’t realise the boys were meant to come as pirates and the girls were meant to come as skanks,’” Hills’ friend laments at a pirate-themed party.

My point exactly; pirates is all well and good for men who are young-at-heart, and men who perhaps want to get their gear off and go shirtless, and men in general, but women are faced with exactly two options: slutty pirate or slutty wench.

Now I’ve got some co-workers who are happy to go as more masculine pirates. (One friend, Lana, sent me a picture the other day of her costume, and you can hardly tell it’s her and she looks great.) I haven’t come across many friends who are going as wenches, which may be a testament to my own views (and thus the changing views of society?) on the topic, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be plenty of buxom babes letting the stress of the year off their chests. In what was a poignant throwback-forward, perhaps, from my friend and former co-worker Tess, she came dressed as a pirate for my Halloween-themed birthday party this year, and managed to retain her dignity.

Sure, wenches are traditionally slutty by name and by nature, as noted in the comments of Hills’ abovementioned article, but that’s not the problem I have with them.

I’m the first to put my hand up (whilst simultaneously holding my skirt down) to embrace my inner sartorial slut when it comes to hitting the town (Hello?! Have you seen my Halloween costume?), and while I will not be attending my Christmas party as a wench, there will still be a hefty dose of slut in my outfit (pictures to come next week).

The problem I have with the limiting theme is that there is no room for originality or diversity, particularly for the female members of the payroll. It’s one slut fits all.

[Musings of an Inappropriate Woman] Attractive = Hot = Not Much Clothing On?

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] The Witching Hour: Halloween/My Birthday at Witches in Britches Cabaret.

[Rabbit White] In Defence of Slut-O-Ween.

[Rabbit White] Defence of Slut-O-Ween II: Straight People’s Pride?

[The Stranger] Happy Heteroween.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

Millennials Magazine profiles the beauty of the to-do list, Daniel D’Addario gets nostalgic for Daria Morgendorffer, while Katie Baker wishes she was an orphan:

“Orphans are adored by their peers, but tormented by evil guardians, stay cool under pressure and abuse, and rarely fail to win true familial love and affection in the end.”

Also at Millennials Mag, the awesomeness of The O.C. was that “it was just fucking dramatic”:

“Kirsten’s an alcoholic. Marissa almost dies in an alley in Tijuana. Luke’s dad turns out to be gay. Luke and Julie Cooper hook up, grossly. Seth, who’s supposed to be this huge nerd, nabs the most popular girl in school. Summer gets into Brown, which is actually kind of realistic considering her money, but that’s another story. Obviously some lesbian stuff happens. Marissa shoots Trey. Marissa dies. Ryan and Taylor go into a parallel universe while in a coma. And yet everyone keeps on being rich and impossibly well dressed and extremely easy on the eyes.”

“The 9 Most Racist Disney Characters.”

Continuing with the “Why Don’t You Love Me?” theme, Tiger Beatdown discusses the cultural relevance of Beyonce’s anthem, in relation to buying access to a stripper’s body via a $10 lap dance:

“I was able to buy access to this woman’s body and (very convincing) pretend affections for less than I would spend picking up a couple of last-minute things at the grocery store. It was worth almost nothing. Less than an oil change. Less than someone cutting my hair. Less than getting a decent tailor to hem a pair of pants. Less than a bouquet of roses.

“And that’s the day that I realized we were all the victims of a sick joke. A despicable charade where so much is demanded of women, so much compliance and poking and prodding, so much effort to make ourselves beautiful and radiant and perfect, so much forcing of square pegs into round holes, just so we could meet it all, do it all, get close to the apex of perfection and still be worth nothing. We would be left with alienation from our own bodies, our bodies that we squeezed into stilettos and shaved and waxed and whittled into tiny silhouettes at the gym, always striving for more perfect, thinner, prettier, more alluring. Working so hard to satisfy the cultural imperative toward female perfection—how could we have time for our own desires except to be desired?

“Latoya Peterson writes about the video that ‘Once again, Beyoncé’s lyrics define her positive attributes in the context of why she should be desirable to some fool that doesn’t appreciate her. The video, however, is a lot more interesting since, with Beyoncé playing the role of “B.B. Homemaker”, it is openly mocking a lot of the ideals and tenets of womanhood’. I’d go much further than that. I’d say that the song and the video together form a radical critique of femininity, full stop. Because this is what femininity is about: making yourself appealing to men by adhering as closely possible to cultural ideals of perfect womanhood. Her lyric is not ‘when I am so damn easy to love’, but ‘when I make me so damn easy to love’. It’s effort, it’s a construct, it is something she does and not something that she is. It is performative.”

“Man up” seems to be a fairly frequently used phrase in my vernacular, and The New York Times ponders its true meaning:

“But man up isn’t just being used to package machismo as a commodity. Its spectrum of meanings runs from ‘Don’t be a sissy; toughen up’ all the way to ‘Do the right thing; be a mensch,’ to use the Yiddishism for an honourable or upright person. The Man Up Campaign, for instance, is a new global initiative that engages youth to stop gender-based violence: ‘Our call to action challenges each of us to “man up” and declare that violence against women and girls must end,’ its mission statement reads.”

Now that is something we can all certainly man up stand up for.

The top ten reasons why anyone follows anyone who’s anyone on Twitter.

Uplift Magazine on those Crystal Renn food photos.

In defence of books:

“Many books are screwy, a great many are dull, some are irredeemable, and there are way too many of them, probably, in the world. I hate all the fetishistic twaddle about books promoted by the chain stores and the book clubs, which make books seem as cozy and unthreatening as teacups, instead of the often disputatious and sometimes frightening things they are. I recognize that we now have many ways to convey, store, and reproduce the sorts of matter that formerly were monopolized by books. I like to think that I’m no bookworm, egghead, four-eyed paleface library rat. I often engage in activities that have no reference to the printed words. I realize that books are not the entire world, even if they sometimes seem to contain it. But I need the stupid things.”

The perils of HalloSlut-o-Ween, at Rabbit White.

Meet Me at Mike’s Pip Lincolne writes about what makes a successful blog.

More on the Glee/GQ photo shoot scandal, this time from NPR and the girls at Go Fug Yourself.

The Representation of Trees in the World of Walt Disney.

This is an edited version of a research article I wrote in 2008; one of the most inspiring and fun essays to write for uni, which was reflected in my mark. It’s a left of centre topic, and maybe a bit left of centre for this blog, but it’s just something I’m trying out. Go with it.

When we think of the wonderful world of Disney, trees aren’t usually the first thing that comes to mindunless you’re a horticulturalist!

You might think of the magic of such classics that bring back childhood memories, like Peter Pan or Dumbo; the crown jewel of Disney that is Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: or the somewhat negative public perception of Disneyland, Disney World and the subsequent “Disneyfication” of the Western world. The one thing we definitely don’t immediately associate with Disney is trees.

But the tree is a very important aspect of not only Disney films, but the whole universe that Walt Disney created. Did you know that there are over 5,000 different types of trees at Anaheim, California’s Disneyland theme park, including Australia’s own eucalyptus tree?

And in almost every movie the action, at some point, takes place in a forest or woodland area, abundant with lush growth. In Snow White, the title character is stalked by the huntsman and seeks solace in the Seven Dwarves’ cottage in the woods. Sleeping Beauty’s Aurora ponders her future love in the forest amongst her animal friends. Beauty and the Beast’s heroine Belle and her noble steed are attacked by wolves in the snow-covered wilderness surrounding the Beast’s castle.

So where did the mastermind Walt Disney gain his inspiration for the use of trees? Some of his first fairytales he adapted into feature films came from the Brothers Grimm, who wrote Snow White and Cinderella, undoubtedly two of the most popular and well loved fairytales and, thereby, characters.

The Brothers Grimm, writing about the lush green countryside of the European settings for these stories, inspired Disney through their gift of writing. Walt Disney also had a fascination with animals (from crickets in Pinocchio to lobsters in The Little Mermaid ), so much so that he produced a series of documentaries on the animal kingdom and nature, called True Life Adventures. Titles in this series included “Seals Island”, “In Beaver Valley”, and “The Living Desert”. An article on Walt Disney in a 1963 edition of Modern Mechanix magazine said that, “Walt’s early edict for… all the True Life Adventure pictures was to get the complete natural history of the animals with no sign of humans: no fences, car tracks, buildings, or telephone poles.”

Disney wasn’t only interested in portraying animals on film, but also conserving species and their environments for future generations. This is evident in the construction of the Tree of Life at Orlando, Florida’s Disney World Animal Kingdom sub-park. While the tree is fake (it consists of about 100,000 silk leaves sewn onto over 8,000 branches), it has carvings of numerous animals on it, allowing children to experience an African Safari with illustrated depictions of animals that may not be around for much longer.

The “Tree of Life” was drawn directly from the incredibly successful 1994 movie, The Lion King. In the movie, the tree is shown only a few times, where the mandrill Rafiki draws symbols of Simba when his life seems to be in danger.

Gail Krause says that, “… Rafiki is the wise ‘shaman’ of the animal community; he writes the image of the lost and then found king, Simba, on a central tree, making real for himself the ‘death’ and ‘resurrection’ of the true leaderan interesting parallel to the Jesus myth. The Disney company then created the park Animal Kingdom with a majestic Tree of Life…”.

The Tree of Life in The Lion King also serves as a marker for where Simba left his old life as heir to the King of the Jungle and his new life in exile with the feisty meerkat, Timon, and Pumbaa the rotund warthog. The fact that the Tree is in the middle of the desert where scarcely any animal roams signifies the neutrality of the Tree: the halfway point between the corrupt leadership of Scar and the carefree new life that Simba leads.

But the Tree of Life isn’t the only perennial woody plant in The Lion King. The other tree that acts as a signpost for where the action picks up is the almost half-dead, lone branch in the gorge. This tree is the framing point for the stampede that Simba gets caught up in; the stampede in which his father, Mufasa, is killed. It’s not a full, live tree, but its skeleton-like appearance is parallel to the dark, cold soul of Scar and his hyena followers, and the subsequent reign of darkness the animal kingdom is ruled by.

The Tree of Life shows that trees are not only markers for where certain actions will take place or where the central protagonist should turn, but they are somewhat characters in their own right. Trees are key characters/motifs in the Disney films Pocahontas, Peter Pan and Alice in Wonderland, as they provide turning points or revelations in the story.

Mark I. Pinsky, author of The Gospel According to Disney: Faith, Trust and Pixie Dust, says, “Providence will show up in the form of a fairy, wizard [or] talking willow tree,” if ever you should lose your way. Or rather, in Alice’s case, stumbling down the rabbit hole underneath the tree she falls asleep in is how she begins her wayward journey.

Pocahontas, the story of a Native American girl who promotes acceptance between white settlers and her own people, is the obvious example of a Disney film with a tree as an actual, personified character in Grandmother Willow. According to the Living Arts Originals website, “Willow tree symbolism includes magic, healing, inner vision and dreams… Forests are the abode for the nature spirits”. A lot of research probably went into the character of Grandmother Willow, as these classic Native American qualities of the tree are evident in her. She acts as Pocahontas’s “fairy godmother”. Although Grandmother Willow could be personified as any nationality, she is fittingly a Native American like Pocahontas and her people, because that’s who Pocahontas identifies with (as evident in the conflict between Pocahontas’s tribe and John Smith’s men). When Pocahontas brings John Smith to Grandmother Willow, she shows him her magic and opens up the Native American culture to him, and thereby the settlers, as Pocahontas did in reality many centuries ago. Grandmother Willow, using her virtues of inner vision and dreaming, encourages Pocahontas to follow her path, shown to her by the spinning arrow of John Smith’s compass, thus orchestrating great change in conflict between the “savages” and the whites.

Alice in Wonderland, the most eccentric of all Disney’s films, uses trees in a number of ways. Firstly, the tree in which Alice is studying in at the beginning of the story is the tree under which the white rabbit escapes, and she follows. A magic mushroom (perhaps a reflection of the author Lewis Carroll’s drug use?), makes Alice grow to the height of a tree, where a nosey pigeon refuses to believe she’s “just a little girl!”.

One image of the tree, or woods/forest, that rampant not only in Disney films, but many other contemporary movies, is the personification of the treetaking on human characteristics, such as eyes and arms, to give off a menacing vibe. In Alice in Wonderland, the Tulgey Woods’ trees observe Alice as eyes appear , which then turn out to be a gathering of characters with eyesducks with horns, flamingos with umbrella bodies, and glasses that seem to resemble the fake-nose-and-moustache disguise that children are fond of. Treebeard, in J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, both text and film is another, non-Disney example. The forest in The Wizard of Oz comes to life and the trees throw their apples at Dorothy, Scarecrow and little Toto. If I listed the numerous other movies that show trees in this way, we’d be here all day.

But, they’re all derived from one Disney flick in particular: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. The first ever feature length animated film was also one of the first to depict a forest coming to life in such a way, where the trees grow arms and eyes, and bark floating in the river turns into crocodiles! No doubt other Hollywood productions have used Snow White and Disney as inspiration, especially The Wizard of Oz, with it’s out-of-this-world plot and unmistakably Disney-esque characters.

Even before Snow White, though, was the Disney short animated film Flowers and Trees, shown in 1932, which won the first ever Academy Award for an animated short. This undoubtedly would have been the starting point for trees as more than just “trees”, not only in Disney, but in film in general.

If ever there was a documentary explaining all about the depiction of trees in Disney films, it’s Four Artists Paint One Tree, a special feature that can be accessed via the 2003 special edition DVD release of Sleeping Beauty. In the doco, Walt Disney narrates as four animators go out into the field to demonstrate how they would paint an old oak tree. The first artist, Walt Peregoy, views the tree as an architectural monument, and his finished painting is evidence of the animation of the backdrop of Sleeping Beauty. Josh Meador, an effects artist for Sleeping Beauty, references the Druids, who believed trees had personalities. Maybe he was a key artist in personifying trees and bringing them to life? The next painter, Eyvind Earle, is primarily interested in the trunk, and uses watercolours to fill in the fine detail. Finally, Marc Davis represents the tree as an explosion out of the earth, with branches spraying out from the body of the trunk. Afterwatching this documentary, you can see which aspects of each artists tree, or their style of painting scenery, that has gone into creating Sleeping Beauty. Walt ends the documentary by paraphrasing the artist Robert Henri: “The great painter has something to say. He does not paint men, landscapes or furniture, but an idea.” This seems to be the consensus amongst not just Disney’s approach to filmmaking, but the studio’s approach to letting audiences believe what they want to believe (some would beg to differ on this point).

M. Lynne Bird backs this theory up in her article titled “Ecological Ambivalence in Neverland from The Little White Bird to Hook in the tome Wild Things: Children’s Culture and Ecocriticism. She discusses the idea that trees are just treesnature is just naturein Disney films, but it’s the children’s imaginations, and in turn, Walt Disney’s child-at-heart imagination that makes a tree something more, such as in the films mentioned above. She writes, “‘The Neverland is always more or less an island, with astonishing splashes of colour here and there’… This mix drops nature and privileges both imagination and society. The island can only become real as children look for it.”

Though not a “tree” specifically, the Smoke Tree Ranch, Walt Disney’s holiday home in Palm Springs, California, was used as collateral in the funding of Disneyland. While it was hard for him to part with the ranch, it turns out Disney made the right choice: sacrificing a symbolic and sentimental place in his personal life to create a symbolic and sentimental place for millions of others.

Walt Disney was obviously a kid at heart, as can be seen in the tales he chose to adapt and bring to a worldwide audience. Tarzan’s Treehouse, from the movie Tarzan (and was also adapted from the tree house in Disney’s Swiss Family Robinson) and located in the Disneyland theme park as an attraction, and the creation of the Hangman’s Tree, the home of Peter Pan and the Lost Boys, are more blatant examples of trees in the world of Walt Disney. Hangman’s Tree exemplifies everything a child could want in a tree house.

While, once again, trees are definitely not the first thing Disney-enthusiasts think of when sitting down to watch their favourite film, but the next time you do, keep an eye out for the trees: after all, that’s what a horticulturalist would do!

[Modern Mechanix] The Magic Worlds of Walt Disney Part 1.

[MSMC] The Cipher: The Mythological Tree in Various Cultures.

[Living Arts Originals].

[Google Books] Ecological Ambivalence in Neverland from The Little White Bird to Hook.