Because Peter Pan Is Actually a Jerk

November 27th, 2013

Miss Mouse asked to watch Peter Pan last Saturday for movie night.

I said no.

She was understandably confused since I’d let her watch it once before when she was home sick from school.  What gives, mom?

How do I explain this to my kiddo?  How do I say: Well, honey, when I watched it with you back a month ago, I realized something unsettling about that particular children’s movie.  It kinda stinks.  It is misogynistic and racist and paints a terrible picture of female relationships and you deserve better, little girl.

Peter Pan Mermaids

That seemed a bit over her head.

What I DID say was that Peter Pan isn’t my favorite movie because Peter Pan isn’t very kind to Wendy and the parts of the movie with the Native Americans also aren’t very kind because the movie is making fun of them and I don’t like it.

It’s true, too.  Have you actually watched that movie lately?  Yikes.  Peter is a chauvinistic snot who drags Wendy to Neverland to be his housekeeper and then routinely ditches her to flit (and flirt) about.   The relationships between female characters are portrayed as petty and jealous and catty (the scene where Wendy meets the mermaids is particularly unpleasant but Tinker Bell is no paragon of female bonding!).  And the song “What Makes the Red Man Red” – while catchy in tune – is pretty offensive, as are the other depictions of the Indians.

Disney Peter Pan Squaw

I don’t always walk the walk on Disney movies (I admit to indulging my daughter’s love of princesses) but I had to drawn the line at Peter Pan.  The conversation with Miss Mouse went really well, actually.  We talked about how Peter treats Wendy and about how it isn’t kind to make fun of groups of people.  It was a good teachable moment.

4 responses to “Because Peter Pan Is Actually a Jerk”

  1. Jo Burkhalter says:

    Awesome, girl. I’m going to share with my best pal, who has 3 under 5, including two little prinesses…

  2. No says:

    Holy shit you twit, that’s like the entire premise of WHY Wendy leaves! She grows up because Peter isn’t what she imagined and wanted him to be so she got over that fantasy and accepted growing up. Congrats on missing the point.

    • Kate says:

      I respectfully disagree! Although Wendy does accept growing up, I don’t see any suggestion in the movie itself that her decision to leave was based on her burgeoning self-identity as a liberated woman who realized she could do better than the perpetually immature Peter.

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