Journal Entry: The Disney Question
It’s true that I avoid discussing my work if I can because I am not immune to the discouragement that comes with being dismissed repeatedly. Nevertheless, my work has become known a little, though it is more likely to be discussed in comic book shops than academic circles.
Those who are willing to listen eventually ask some version of what I call the “Disney Question.” By this I mean any question about a Disney character, usually a princess, born out of fables and folklore. For some reason people assume that Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, and Cinderella should be among those fabled characters I have already discovered. As frustrating as this question is, I recognize it is frustrating because I wonder the same thing.
The only answer I have, and it is a guess really, is that some fabled characters reach such a high frequency in human experience that they create a feedback loop. Almost anyone you meet will know the story of Jack and Jill going up the hill, but the space that nursery rhyme occupies in their life is so very small compared to the space occupied by the story of Snow White* or Cinderella. This is largely if not wholly due to the Disney movies and the resulting remakes and near constant re-imagining of the story in popular culture.
In very basic and practical terms, this means that people begin to insert elements of such stories into their lives and as a result there are too many false clues. Too many lives look like Snow White. Too many lives look like Sleeping Beauty. It’s not that I have given up looking for a “Disney princess” but she will have to hit me over the head to get my attention.
* Early in 2018 I came across an obituary for Ira Quinn. After several weeks of hesitation I decided to add her to my list of Fabled Obituaries when I discovered Welsh for snow white is Eira Gwyn, a near precise match phonetically for Ira Quinn. The manner by which I discovered this fact is both puzzling and troublesome to me. I cannot shake the feeling that I did not finally find one of the fabled lives that came to be known as a Disney Princesses … but rather, a Disney Princess finally found me.