4/20/2016 – I edited the post for clarification. This is meant as a look at the song Poor Unfortunate Souls and how it relates to real life comments and thoughts by some people. I did not mean it as a look at the character or story of the Little Mermaid as a whole or as an analysis of the Disney Princesses.
Now I am a huge Disney fan and I do love the Disney movies, but honestly a lot of it has to do with the music and the songs. I know all the songs by heart and I can listen to a Disney soundtrack over and over again. Well recently I was listening to the song “Poor Unfortunate Souls” that was sung by Ursula when trying to convince Ariel that she has the solution to her problem. At the same time if you think about the song comes down to convincing Ariel to trade everything about who she is to get a man, which actually cuts close to real life situations that women find themselves in.
Mermaid to Human
“The only way to get what you want is to become a human yourself” – Ursula
I mean the very start of the song is the fact that Ariel wants a guy, but because she is a mermaid she can’t be with him. At the same time if you think about this as a real life situation it comes across as someone that needs to change who they are in order to find love. That is a really horrible message and I know it is coming from Ursula who is supposed to be the villain; at the same time it is all too realistic of a message that you hear from people (and Hollywood). This then translates into the reason that many times that girls like something that is considered a “guy” thing that they are then blamed for faking it.
“If I become human, I’ll never be with my father or sisters again.” -Ariel
“But you’ll have your man. Life’s full of tough choices, isn’t it?” – Ursula
This is the epitome of an abusive relationship. A woman gives up connection with all family and friends and her sole purpose in life becomes the man in her life. Nothing else is important, it is all about the guy that she is with. So not only are you changing everything about yourself, but you are giving up any connection to who you were before the guy. Now I know the idea when you marry someone is that they need to come first (on both sides), but that doesn’t mean that you give up all your other connections for that one person!
Losing Your Voice
“Yet on land it’s much preferred for ladies not to say a word
And after all dear, what is idle babble for?
Come on, they’re not all that impressed with conversation
True gentlemen avoid it when they can
But they dote and swoon and fawn
On a lady who’s withdrawn
It’s she who holds her tongue who gets a man” -Ursula
This is the line that felt particularly poignant to me because how many times are women told that they talk too much or that they should be eye candy, etc. Too often women are dismissed or silenced in so many ways to turn them into objects that are not actually supposed to have a voice. The idea that we have to give up our voice, one of the more powerful things that we have, just to find someone to love us is the most ridiculous concept I could ever hear. To hold back what we think to quiet our minds in order to just fit in somehow, even if fitting with a person or situation that tries to hold us back just to meet the expectation of society.
This song definitely took me to a weird place.