The Mice and Men of Disney: 5 Heroes Who Never Get Their Due
Like most adult people, we didn't really pay attention to the world of Disney. Whenever a new film came out, we briefly acknowledged whatever story they'd chosen to animate and then moved on with our day. Now we have a daughter, and like most parents you start getting into Disney culture...a culture that has some serious problems, in our opinion.
The Disney princess movement is really beginning to annoy us. We understand that the point of the whole thing, aside from making huge amounts of money, of course, is to give little girls a bevy of female protagonists to identify with. The problem is, we feel that they've become so dedicated to this narrative that they have actively begun sacrificing any male roles in the stories. That's too bad because there have been some truly badass boys in the films, and each one is dying the sad death of undermarketing. Such as..
Basil is the lead in The Great Mouse Detective, which is basically just Sherlock Holmes with mice. The film is ripe for rediscovery, what with the steampunk craze continuing to build and Holmes himself getting not one but two highly successful reboots. Yet, because the film focuses almost exclusively on a male protagonist and doesn't fit in the princess scheme at all, it sits forgotten.
Which is a shame because not only did Basil save the Queen of England in his own film, he saved every single princess from Ariel to Mulan. Basically, Disney was seriously thinking about ditching its animation department in the '80s. Don Bluth had left the company and proceeded to drink Mickey's milkshake with The Secret of NIMH. Meanwhile, Disney suffered a serious flop with The Black Cauldron.
Disney gave it one more go with Great Mouse Detective in 1986. Unfortunately it came out the same year as a similar film, Bluth's An American Tale (Another reason it's been forgotten), but it did do well enough financially and critically to convince management that there was still money in animation. Two years later they broke all the rules with Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, and the year after that released The Little Mermaid, which sealed Disney at the top of the game until Shrek came along.
So yeah, half of those princesses you see on every damned lunch box? They owe it to Basil.
Pocahontas isn't a terribly great film aside from the fact that it's got a particularly excellent soundtrack. Mostly it exists so that Disney can fill out its ethnicity card more fully. Our two leads, Pocahontas and John Smith, really deserve no accolades, as both of them are denser than frozen bison poo, and the respective leaders they answer to are generally even worse.
Thomas is Smith's sidekick, and at first it looks like he exacerbates the situation into conflict when he kills a jealous suitor of Pocahontas who rushes at Smith in a rage. This leads to Smith's capture and all of the final act. Oh, if only he hadn't killed that pissed-off, murderous...wait.
Exactly. If Thomas hadn't stepped in and saved Smith, then Smith would've died. If you think that anything would've saved the Native Americans after that, then you didn't read your history very deeply. Thomas started out as sort of a nincompoop, but in the end he was the only one thinking even half clearly throughout the film.