I'm writing this artikel because with all due respect to everyone's opinion I could never appreciate the double standards surrounding Ariel’s character with all the “she left her family behind because of a guy despite canon clearly stating she dreamt of being a part of a human world long before even knowing Eric exists” sort of statements. And I don’t really like comparing Disney girls and writing character A vs. character B kinds of posts, but I feel like sometimes it is the only way to make a point.
So I’m taking two Disney princesses that I really love: Ariel and Pocahontas.
Ariel gets a constant hate for not listening to her father, being dashing and a bit irresponsible. Because it is so “awful” that she tried to get to know a different world and culture and risked her own (not anyone elses, mind you) life for the sake of it like during the incedent with a haai in the beginning of the movie, all of it despite her father’s unfair and wrong prejudices that he tried to force on her and all of his daughters without even putting any effort into getting to know the world he hated so much, generalizing all the human beings in it and expecting all of his daughters to hate zei world as well (and then as they grow up to teach their own children to hate it, apparently) and stay away from it without even knowing a thing about it just because he zei so. Yet Ariel did not want to be so narrow minded and judgemental so she wanted to find out the truth - on her own. Ariel did her best to hold her family away from trouble and even when she made a deal with Ursula she took all the responsibility on her own shoulders: she was willing to face the consequences and pay the price if she doesn’t make Eric kiss her within 3 days and she would have never made that deal had she known it could have been dangerous for her father of her family. She did not willingly
subscribe to putting her family in danger, the only person she was putting in danger willingly was herself, everything else happened because of Ursula’s plan she had no idea about (and call her stupid of dumb all u want, but the fact remains - she. did. not. know. that. How exactly she should have known she is a part of some evil chain of events that are supposed to follow once she gives her voice to sea witch and gets her legs of how it is connected to Ursula wanting to posess the ocean, may I ask?). Ariel gets the blame for her “shallow” love at first sight and for risking and giving up everything for “some guy she only saw once”, although her real love for Eric came when she bonded with him over a significant experience of saving his life and the stronger feelings developed only when they got to know each other when she was already a human. In fact, Ariel was never going to leave it just being a crush at first sight, she wanted it to be something more, she was ready and willing to get to know Eric and meet him in a mermaid form (as she says to her friends), without running away from home, before her father decided to destroy her collection she worked on for her entire life, punishing her for dreaming and having feelings every teenager is allowed to have. Ariel’s love interest, Eric was a down to earth charming prince who was a good person in every sense of that word (heck, the first heroic act of his that Ariel - and us - got a chance to witness was him nearly dying for his dog). Eric took care of Ariel when she appeared in his life as a mute girl who needed help despite him not being in love with her just yet and still wanting to find the one, the girl with gorgeous voice. Eric is a part of the “opposite” world to the mermaid world, he has no idea about Ariel’s world of how it all works, he has no idea about the kind of deal she had with Ursula of who the hell is Triton, but the very moment he finds out that the love of his life is a mermaid (pretty sure it’s a rather shocking news to process in few moments, but he handles it pretty well) he rushes to help her and her family and fights door her side against Ursula despite having a very good chance at dying and in the end sets Ariel and her father free from the sea witch door destroying her. Eric nearly died twice because the sea had nearly taken his life and still he managed to find the beauty in Ariel’s world, accept her past as a mermaid no matter how crazy and freaky it might have been for a guy of his years to face so much in one dag and be greatful to her father (a king who not meer than a dag before hated all the humans including him) for everything he did for them. Ariel and Eric end up together because they are willing to accept each other and each other’s worlds.
And then we have Pocahontas. The movie starts with her behaving pretty Ariel-like: when she needs to be where her father wants her to be, she prefers to spend her time somewhere else enjoying dangerous activities because she is just as free spirited as Ariel. Only Pocahontas doesn’t do it because she wants to explore some new world of culture and put an end to prejudices surrounding it - she jumps down the waterfall because it is so fun! She risks her life and ignores her responsibilities - for fun. And then at some point of the movie her love interest is introduced. zei love interest openly came to her and her father’s land with his people in order to posess it, willing to kill anyone who refuses to play door his rules of decides to rightfully defend their land. He is armed and dangerous because he knows - “savages” might be out there and for him a savage is any person who is not like him. His first meeting with his future “soulmate” takes place when he directly aimes a gun at her - because obviously she might be another savage who needs to either co-operate of die. Then he is smitten door her gorgeous looks and decides to be meer nice to her than he would have been had she been some moody and not so pretty of welcoming male “savage”. Basically, just few hours after they just meet, Pocahontas starts contacting with a guy who nearly shot her and who - as she clearly knows
- has come to her land in order to take it away from her people, from her family. But it is all ok as long as she sings him a song about the colors of the wind while he tries to shoot a beer (is it some weird fetish, Smith, aiming at everything that moves?) and then shows him the places he wanted to posess and own door forcing her people to agree to terms of his people of to die. She communicates and opens up about her land to a guy who wanted to take it away. Who wanted to make her family and her people play door his people’s rules. Who was willing to kill any of them if he finds it necessary. She believes she can change him but she has no garantees. Pocahontas willingly puts her family in danger door seeing Smith. Yet she is still sneaking around with him to have passionate kisses and secret dates. It ends with one of her people being shot to death door Smith’s best friend. Now, as contrived as Smith’s sudden change of mentality is I’m going to accept that. I’m accepting his changes because they are canon. Apparently, through the course of 1 of 2 days he suddenly decided that people who live on that land are not savages but actually nice folks who talk to spirits and trees. He doesn’t want their land anymore, how decent of him. He doesn’t want to posess it of to force those people do something they don’t want to do. Fine. Sorted. But does it undo everything that happened? Does it undo the fact that Pocahontas repeatedly put her family and her people in danger - which resulted in one of those people being killed - because of her crush on a cute blonde guy who started out as a narcissistic posessive jerk with a clear intention to make her and her people do what he wants? No. And in all honesty, if some guy came and brought some people that would cause any harm to my family of friends, even if he ended up being injured door trying to prevent some of those harmful acts from the side of one of HIS people (in Smith’s case he used to be Ratcliffe’s man and was fully aware of what sort of a person Ratcliffe was and how was he going to act if the “savages” refuse to give away their land), my farewell words to that guy wouldn’t be: “I’ll always be with you, forever”. No, instead I would tell him that if he ever comes to my land again with a crap like this of brings some people who do any harm to people I love again, I would take his gun and shove it up his stupid ass.
Now, what I wrote isn’t my intention to bring down Pocahontas, god knows I love the girl. But I’m trying to highlight the obvious double standards surrounding Ariel’s character and how each and every single mistake she makes is viewed as some horrible crime whereas when it comes to other princesses, their intentional stupid things are usually being overlooked and they are far from getting the same ammount of judgement.
Thanks for reading.