Disney classics have come under sharp scrutiny with the increasing awareness among critics who are now stating that the old-time animation movies were actually pretty derogatory. Films such as 'Snow White', 'Sleeping Beauty', and 'The Little Mermaid' have already been criticized for their portrayal of non-consensual romance as in each of the movies the princes somehow seem to steal away the maiden's heart without her consent. On the other hand, films like 'Cinderella' have been criticized for the female character's dependency on a so-called Prince Charming who is supposed to fix her life, instead of the character herself taking charge. Now, 'Beauty and the Beast' and 'Aladdin' have fallen under the radar for similar reasons.
Over the years it has been claimed that 'Beauty and the Beast' actually promotes domestic violence. When young Belle finds herself trapped in the castle of the Beast she has no choice but to live by his rules. A curse compels the Beast to pursue the maiden as that is the only way to break the curse and help him get back to his real life. As for Belle, who is unaware of this glaring secret, she takes a liking for the Beast not by his appearance but by what he has to offer- a magnificent library. All of this happens when she is in a way imprisoned inside the castle, and their budding romance is viewed by Dr Victoria Cann, a lecturer in Humanities at the University of East Anglia, as representative of domestic violence.
As reported by the Sun, Dr Cann mentioned, "This is the most dangerous because the Beast always feels on the verge of violence." She further elaborated that the story might be a subtle indication towards Stockholm Syndrome where the captive falls in love with the captor. "What it shows is a classic case of Stockholm Syndrome, where the captive falls in love with their captor to ensure their survival. It also gives the unnerving idea that if a woman perseveres long enough, she can change an angry partner. In the end, the beast then turns into this blonde-haired white man for another happy ever after, giving the idea that now he’s good looking, he can’t possibly be angry or threatening."
On the other hand, while 'Beauty and the Beast' has been critiqued for being absolutely delusional about the appearances of its characters, 'Aladdin' has been criticized for its use of the female character by white filmmakers in order to make the Middle East look more exotic. Dr Cann explained, "Dress-wise, she is basically in a bikini top to show off her very slight stomach which seems to be an attempt by white filmmakers to make the dress of Middle Eastern women look more exotic and sexual." Moreover, the portrayal of the villain Jafar and the hero Aladdin are quite distinctively done through their skin colors. While Aladdin is shown as pale-looking, the bad guy Jafar has always been portrayed in a darker tone.
Similarly, Dr Cann went on to speak about 'Cinderella' which, she claims, perpetuates the gold digging theory which states if you are beautiful enough some rich guy will let you be a part of his luxury. She said, "The film also encourages the idea that how you look and dress is what’s most important about you. Before she has fine clothes, Cinderella is invisible." On the other hand, every Disney movie has so far portrayed the step-mother under extremely harsh lights, and according to Dr Cann that gives out a very wrong message. "At a time when fewer children live in traditional nuclear families, the idea that all stepmothers are jealous gold-diggers - and that only biological mothers can be kind – also gives off damaging messages to children."