Why is Ursula the Sea Witch mean? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 10 Old 02-16-2011, 12:14 AM - Thread Starter
 
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My 3.5 year old got The Little Mermaid for Christmas and though I was a little concerned that she wasn't ready for it (her TV exposure has been limited to Treehouse and the PreSchool PBS programs, hence no Bad Guys) I let her go ahead. She loves it and has watched it more times than I would like to admit. But, she's really hung up on Ursula and has even had nightmares about her. I am just stumped on how to answer this question... Help Please! 

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#2 of 10 Old 02-16-2011, 05:38 AM
 
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It's been over a year since I've seen that movie, so I might be wrong, but I believe there's a line or two where Ursula explains herself.  She's mean for a couple reasons:  1.  She's jealous that King Triton and all the other merpeople have fun and party without inviting her, so she feels excluded.  2.  She's a rather unscrupulous sea witch, who tricked a lot of desperate merfolk into signing contracts with her, contracts which basically gave her their souls in exchange for a bit of magic.

 

I would guess that reason 2 caused reason 1.  Because she wasn't fair or nice to others (taking advantage of them), nobody really wanted to have anything to do with her.  She thinks having power means you get to abuse your power (she's completely self-centered).  King Triton only uses his powers when he has to, and then it's to help his people (he's more self-less than Ursula), or at least, his daughter.

 

Of course, you could always use Jessica Rabbit's excuse, "I was just drawn this way."  Explain that to make movies more exciting, there needs to be some sort of conflict; having a villain for the hero to struggle against is an easy way to provide that conflict.  There cannot be good without evil, or evil without good.  It's the contrast that provides the tension and the resolution that provides the catharsis.

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#3 of 10 Old 02-16-2011, 03:51 PM
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Have you seen Mickey Mouse Monopoly? 

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#4 of 10 Old 02-16-2011, 04:25 PM
 
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OP, it might help your daughter if you do a little looking into the original Little Mermaid story by Han Christian Anderson. Ursula, in the original story, was far more neutral (and had a smaller role too). Disney just made her an all out antagonist for the sake of dramatics that go along with "good vs. evil".
 

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Originally Posted by fritz View Post

It's been over a year since I've seen that movie, so I might be wrong, but I believe there's a line or two where Ursula explains herself.  She's mean for a couple reasons:  1.  She's jealous that King Triton and all the other merpeople have fun and party without inviting her, so she feels excluded.  2.  She's a rather unscrupulous sea witch, who tricked a lot of desperate merfolk into signing contracts with her, contracts which basically gave her their souls in exchange for a bit of magic.

 

I would guess that reason 2 caused reason 1.  Because she wasn't fair or nice to others (taking advantage of them), nobody really wanted to have anything to do with her.  She thinks having power means you get to abuse your power (she's completely self-centered).  King Triton only uses his powers when he has to, and then it's to help his people (he's more self-less than Ursula), or at least, his daughter.

 

Of course, you could always use Jessica Rabbit's excuse, "I was just drawn this way."  Explain that to make movies more exciting, there needs to be some sort of conflict; having a villain for the hero to struggle against is an easy way to provide that conflict.  There cannot be good without evil, or evil without good.  It's the contrast that provides the tension and the resolution that provides the catharsis.


They don't invite her, because she was banished for trying to seize the throne from the King.


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#5 of 10 Old 02-16-2011, 04:39 PM
 
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Originally Posted by AttunedMama View Post

Have you seen Mickey Mouse Monopoly? 



Great documentary!

 

I have always thought that reason 2 caused reason 1 and that they left her out because she is a big fat octopus mermaid, instead of a lovely lithe fishy mermaid.

 

DS and I frequently have chats about the Disney bad guys (because he is really into Thomas and friends and always saying things like Diesel is a BAD engine, and we discuss how maybe he wouldn't be so bad if the steam engines were nicer to him and not so hung up on his dieselness.)  so we generally notice that the three evils as identified by King (Poverty, Racism, War) are the root cause of most "bad guys" being bad guys.

 

I've always been uncomfortable with the whole bad guy, good guy thing.


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#6 of 10 Old 02-17-2011, 11:17 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the input. I've Zipped the documentary and requested the original version from the library. We chatted today about how Disney plays it up so that movies are more entertaining with the whole good guy vs bad guy struggle. She was so hungry for an explanation, she was engrossed in the conversation and I could see her little mind absorbing and processing the info. I'm still working through the rest of the coversation in my head before I try it with her. I'm thinking we should sit and watch it together, then I could catch the part where Ursula explains herself, pause the movie and we could discuss it in a little more detail there. While I can see the point in 'if we were nicer to her, she would be nicer to us' I also have been working really hard lately myself on 'owning my own upset' and trying to not let other people's actions/moods/etc dictate my own. So, I'm not sure that I want to teach my daughter that she is responsible for other people's actions. Such a tough one.

 

Thanks again so much for the replies... Keep 'em comin if anyone else has anything to add.

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#7 of 10 Old 02-17-2011, 11:26 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I watched the Disney movies as a kid and loved them, but now that I am having my kiddos watching them and reading the stories I am so much more aware of the violence. We were reading Snow White before bed the other night... What's with 'take her into the forest, kill her, cut out her heart and bring it to me in this box'???!!! Not really bed time material for a 3 year old, I sensored that one! Lots of killing and dying in most of them. Brutal. I prefer not to have that kind of junk in my own entertainment let alone in my preschooler's. Disney is falling off the pedestal I've had it on...

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#8 of 10 Old 02-18-2011, 01:55 AM
 
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Originally Posted by yk_jenn View Post

I watched the Disney movies as a kid and loved them, but now that I am having my kiddos watching them and reading the stories I am so much more aware of the violence. We were reading Snow White before bed the other night... What's with 'take her into the forest, kill her, cut out her heart and bring it to me in this box'???!!! Not really bed time material for a 3 year old, I sensored that one! Lots of killing and dying in most of them. Brutal. I prefer not to have that kind of junk in my own entertainment let alone in my preschooler's. Disney is falling off the pedestal I've had it on...


Disney is tame compared to the real stories that they decided to use and destroy.


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#9 of 10 Old 02-18-2011, 02:07 PM
 
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Disney is tame compared to the real stories that they decided to use and destroy.


I agree, MusicianDad.  I read, for instance, the Grimm stories long before I saw any of the Disney adaptations.  These things were brutal.  Funny thing is, the Grimm brothers didn't even write most of what we consider the popular fairy tales.  The Brothers Grimm collected the stories from various sources which had been mostly handed down orally through the centuries.  Interesting, a lot of the brutal stuff in the tales take place in the woods.  It is thought that these stories were created in order to discourage children from wandering into the woods when the whole of Europe was populated by bears and wolves and unsavory individuals.  It was a time when people really did believe in witches as evil forces.  I think people had a much different approach in protecting their children then. 

 

Disney, in my opinion, has sanitized everything.  Disney didn't create the stories.  They have just appropriated them.

 

Edited to say that I also agree with MusicianDad's previous post that Ursula is more prominent in the film version than in the HCA version in that it created a real evil vs. good scenario.  I think that is a pretty common thing to do in Hollywood.  They tend to over inflate the characters for dramatic effect.
 


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#10 of 10 Old 02-18-2011, 02:59 PM
 
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YK_Jenn, I know what you mean about not connecting the idea of your upset with other's actions or depending on others to meet your needs, but I think it's important to discuss (in very simple terms, obviously) how the privilege of belonging to the mythical norms of society in major ways can blind us to the ways we participate in the oppression of those who do not and to be careful to do our level best not to participate in that oppression when we have the power to counteract it.

 

It's not about being nicer as much as not being prejudiced and carefully exmaining the ways that prejudicesare disguised in the films and TV shows we watch.

 

I mean, he's not yet six, so clearly this is all very blurry for him, but I see the foundation is there when I hear him say things like: "Maybe we shouldn't make jokes about cows just because they are different mommy, it might hurt their feelings."  It's about building empathy more than it is attributing blame.  Ya know?


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