Nov 23, 2015

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Lesson #5, Stranger Danger


I know I can’t be the first person to notice this — in fact, I’m not — but there’s something shady about the prologue to Beauty and the Beast. We’re told that the Beast was a vain prince who refused to let an old crone into his house in the middle of a cold and stormy night. Offended by his cruelty, she revealed herself to be a gorgeous sorceress and cursed him to be a Beast (and for his entire staff to be turned into clocks, candelabras, and cutlery). If he doesn’t earn someone’s love by the time of his 21st birthday, they are stuck like that for life. It sort of makes ethical sense, until you pick up on the fact in “Be Our Guest” that the castle has been cursed for 10 years. That means the Beast would have been a 10-year-old orphan when this all went down. In short, he was just following the classic “Don’t talk to strangers” rule.
If you thought that Disney was eager to correct this for 2015 audiences, then you are wrong! The same thing pretty much happens in Kenneth Branagh’s enchanting live-action version of Cinderella. After she’s humiliated by her family, Cinderella retreats to her backyard to cry — where she meets an eccentric old lady. Instead of saying, “Yo, I’m home alone right now and this is how some slasher films start,” Cinderella gives the lady a ladle full of milk. That’s when the woman reveals she’s her Fairy Godmother and gives Cinderella the dress, glass slippers, and night out of everyone’s dreams. That only happens because Cinderella talks to a woman trespassing on her property.
We’re all for kindness and charity, but teaching your kids to be nice to strangers and interlopers might not be the smartest lesson.

If you don’t get what we’re hinting at, you will when you see this winter’s Oscar-bait flick Room.

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