In This Case, Disney Is Right

In response to Dwayne Johnson's Youtube video "You're Welcome," a reviewer complains about what is "really" going on between Maui and Moana: in sum, a teenage girl is being conned by a so-called God.

The reviewer's tone, though partly humorous, is underscored by a common complaint in Western culture: "The values being promoted here are just so anti-parent!"

Here's the weird thing: this comment could come as easily from the left as the right. The left accuses Disney of being sexist. The right accuses Disney of being immoral. Both sides get ever so miffed at the lack of parental control.

In Into the Woods, Disney went too far to satisfy these detractors. That musical is about adolescence, adulthood, and sex, not cute girls getting cute lessons, then going home.

In Moana, Disney moved back to a less ridiculous position. It's not edgy stuff, but at least Moana is being allowed to explore like any young man in the history of literature.

Remember Treasure Island? Nobody questions Jim's need/desire to explore, even if that means he will place himself in danger (okay, probably somebody does, but the trope is allowed as a given in our culture). Narnia fans like myself like to point out that Aravis as an equal partner to Shasta in the adventurous The Horse & His Boy was unusual in 1954 (and still kind of is).

Katie Roiphe and Camille Paglia are right: if feminists want young women to gain the same experiences and opportunities as young men, those young women have to take the same risks and not run home to daddy.

That means, being out-smarted by (and out-smarting) a con-artist deity.

And dealing with coconut pirates.

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