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Jack Zipes Breaking The Disney Spell Essay Typer

"Breaking the Disney Spell" 
by Jack Zipes

by Jordyn Quirit

"Breaking the Disney Spell" by Jack Zipes


When thinking of tales such as Snow White or Cinderella, we tend to immediately associate the stories with the Disney productions and animated characters, never acknowledging the writers and collectors that they originated from. In “Breaking the Disney Spell”, Jack Zipes displays his negative attitude towards Walt Disney, whom he believes his films disgraced the works of popular folklorists Charles Perrault and the Brothers Grimm. The Disney animated films, in Zipes’ eyes, defeat the original purpose of the fairy tales and give the writers little to no acknowledgement. He supports this claim by comparing the films to the original publications and informing the audience of Disney’s life in his peak of popularity.

To begin the article, Zipes first introduces the topic of fairy tales by incorporating a brief overview of the evolution and how the meanings changed over time. Before the tales were ever incorporated into films, Zipes argues that fairy tales were often used to relieve social conflict by describing past experiences to their audience. Whether it was to gain a sense of community in a tribe or to even display opposition against political figures, fairytales throughout history gave some sort of message to the intended audience and created a voice that was heard above all else when reading.  To writers like Perrault and the Brothers Grimm, this message was the sole purpose of writing these tales. Zipes throughout the article speaks highly of these writers and their works; so highly that he even admitted that Disney “robs the literary tale of its voice and changes its form and meaning.” (344)

How could Disney possibly do this? Zipes believes Disney manipulated his audience and caught their attention through elaborate images, bright colors, and loud sounds without incorporating the true message of the story. The films were simplistic and included reoccurring archetypal characters and predictable story lines, which also left the audience without opportunity for reflection or critical analysis. Zipes argues that with these elements, Disney was able to influence the audience to believe that he accurately depicted these fairytales, and intrigued the viewers with his trickery to watch more of his productions. In fact, his films were projected worldwide and became so popular that his film was remembered rather than the original literary tales.

Zipes also notes the obvious parallels between Disney’s personal life and the fairy tale adaptations he produced. For example, Perrault’s version of Puss in Boots portrays the cat as being the main character while Disney focuses on the young man in his film instead. The young man’s characteristics in the movie mirrors Disney perfectly in his younger years and the story line closely matches a situation he experienced with another well-known animator, showing that he altered the story to his liking without any regard to the original.

Aside from the literal vs. film analysis, Zipes also comments on Disney’s character as a contributor to the animating industry by creating another parallel with Walt Disney’s the Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. Zipes uses this example from one of the most popular works to explain the situation between the animation team, a group of individuals who strived for recognition beyond the tiny name on the credits, and Disney. By this, Zipes pairs Disney to the prince charming role, leaving his animators as the seven dwarves.

Not only does Zipes catch a parallel in the film, but he also criticizes the constant patriarchal idealism incorporated into the story line. Without a man’s help, Disney illustrated women as vulnerable and powerless otherwise and incorporated the idea of true love as the woman’s only dream or desire. Furthermore, Zipes detects the idea of Snow White cleaning the dwarfs’ house was a common idea in both Disney and Grimm’s version, but Disney, in his opinion, took this role to another level by animating Snow White cleaning as a way of natural instinct or desire.

Conclusively, Zipes criticizes Disney for his films and is certain that Disney isn’t suitable to accurately adapt or create fairytales, let alone receive worldwide recognition for them. 

References

Zipes, Jack. "Breaking the Disney Spell." The Classic Fairy Tales. Ed. Maria Tatar. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1999.332-352. Print.

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