WTFAW: The Little Mermaid

Ok, so last week, we talked about The Little Mermaid, so it’s only fitting we talk about some of the madness the movie has created in the minds of fans.

So, show me the fruit of your labours, Dave.

Dave: Well, todays theory is that Ariel and Hercules are related.

Ok, what are the arguments for the theory?

Dave: So, we know that Triton is Ariels father. The thing is, who is Tritons father? In greek mythology, Triton is the son of Poseidon, the god of the sea!

Right…?

Dave: Poseidon is also the brother of Zeus, who of course is the father of Hercules.

Don’t you mean Herakles, since “Hercules” is technically the roman name of the character?

Dave: Whatever! The point is that this means Hercules is Ariels first cousin once removed!

Right. It’s an interesting theory. Now, let me explain why it doesn’t work.

So Poseidon, the character from Hercules is Tritons father?

Dave: Right!

Then where, might I ask, is he in The Little Mermaid? Why is everything about actually RULING the oceans delegated to Triton, his supposed son? When Ursula gains the trident, Poseidon doesn’t go “Hm, this giant maelstrom might require my attention”? That’s not something that the GOD OF THE SEA might find a bit odd? When his son is turned into whatever the hell Ursula turned him into, Poseidon just shrugged!?

Dave: Maybe he didn’t want to get involved?

Oh, really? This is greek myth we’re talking about! “Getting involved” is pretty much what being a greek god is all about! They kill people, turn them into animals and generally fuck them up at the drop of a hat! Ursula turned the child of a GOD into a deformed little grub, and the greek pantheon just ignores that? Bullshit!

And then, if Poseidon exists in that movie, then logically so must the rest of the gods of Mt. Olympus, right? And yet, when Ariel goes missing, Triton sends out fish to search for her, instead of going to THE OTHER FUCKING GODS for help!?

All this is of course ignoring tge fact that, in greek myth, Triton is the messenger of the sea, not the ruler of the merpeople, as he is in this movie. He doesn’t control the seas with a magical trident. Instead, Triton carries a conch shell, with which he can control the waves by blowing it like a trumpet. And while it’s true that his home varies depending on what source you use, the choices include Achaea, and off the coast of Libya.

NOT FUCKING DENMARK!

Dave: Well, Hercules doesn’t exactly follow greek mythology to the letter either.

Ah, so you’re basing this on greek mythology, except for the parts where it contradicts you? You’re an idiot.

Not to mention that the time difference would be completely insane. Think about it. Ariel is 16 years old in the movie, which seems to take place around the late 18’th century, judging from the type of ships and the fashion. That’s pretty big age gap, considering Hercules lived in ANCIENT GREECE!

Sure, the gods are immortal, but you’d think Triton would have more daughters if he’s that old, which he’d have to be considering he would also have lived in ancient greece.

Dave: Hmm… Well, I guess this theory doesn’t work…

What a surprise.

Dave: ...except, of course, for one detail.

Oh god, what now?

Dave: Poseidon IS Tritons father! It is established as canon! You’re not the only one who can play a trump card!

Really? Well, I concede your point. Tritons father is Poseidon.

Dave: Ha! Vindication!

There’s one problem, though. And here’s how you REALLY play a trump card.

You are right that Triton’s father is named Poseidon. However, you are also ignoring that Triton’s GRANDFATHER is named NEPTUNE!

Dave: Wait, What?

The character appears in one episode of the TV series, and is shown as an old merman. Neptune is the ROMAN name for Poseidon.

Triton is the son of a merman NAMED Poseidon, but it’s not the actual greek god!

Dave: Hey, no fair! You’re not allowed to bring in the TV shows or sequels!

Why not? The TV Series was made in 1992, and ended THREE YEARS before the movie Hercules was released. They’d established the idea of Ariel’s relatives long before this theory ever existed!

And incidentally, in the Hercules animated series, guess who makes an appearance. The greek god Triton!

And guess what? He’s not a merman, doesn’t carry a trident and oh, I almost forgot: HE’S FUCKING GREEN!

So no, Hercules is not related to Ariel in any way, shape or form. The theory doesn’t work.

Dave: You’re saying it doesn’t hold water?

Shut the fuck up, Dave.

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The Little Mermaid

Today, I’d like to once again delve into classic movies from the Disney renaissance. Specifically, I’d like to talk a bit about The Little Mermaid.

But don’t worry. This will not be a critique of the movie. The one critique I do have, I will leave for a later date, since it ties together with a concern I have with Aladdin and Beauty and the Beast.

Instead of a nitpicky rant, this will just be a short article where I share an observation about this movie.

So what is that observation?

Well, I was thinking about this movie recently, when I realized that King Triton is actually a mass murderer.

And since I can almost taste the inevitable confusion born from that statement, let me explain.

As you all know (unless you’ve lived under a rock and never seen the movie, in which case, spoiler warning) King Triton is the ruler of the Merpeople, governing his domain with the help of his magic trident. This trident, we’re shown, is capable of many things, like creating fantastic light shows, or firing energy beams that can destroy statues and reduce fish to dust.

However, it can also (and this is the important thing) control the weather.

We know this, partly because when the movie begins, some sailors muse that the sea is calm and the weather is favourable, and suggest that King Triton must be in a good mood.

And later in the movie, near the end, Ursula uses the trident to create an enormous maelstrom.

So, where am I going with all this? Well, the first we see of Ariel, the eponymous mermaid, she is fully engrossed in her favourite hobby: collecting treasures and keepsakes from the world above.

And she does this in an area clearly not that far away from the castle, i.e the area where Triton has the most influence, oversight and power.

Specifically, she’s searching in what’s essentially a ship graveyard.

Now, my question is this: How did those ships sink?

I put it to you that the vast majority of those ships sank as a result of bad weather. As in, that thing Triton has direct control over with his trident!

Just think about it. How many sailors died in those shipwrecks? How many drowned, or died from starvation or thirst, clinging to floating crates or other flotsam?

Now, granted, one might make the logical argument that Triton perhaps didn’t directly cause those shipwrecks. After all, while he does control the weather, he is not omniscient. He doesn’t control the weather everywhere at all times. If he did, how would he have time to blow up his daughter’s treasure trove and drive her to do something rash, like seeking out a half woman half squid sorceress that just so happens to hate Tritons guts?

So fine, maybe he didn’t cause those storms.

However, that doesn’t change the fact that he had the power to prevent those shipwrecks, and yet chose to do nothing.

I think you’ll agree that’s still pretty bad.

Of course, you may argue that maybe he wasn’t aware of the effect those storms had… but then, how come there are so many ships in that one area?! Surely, he would notice after the third ship lands on the seabed, right?

Either way, the blood of those humans are on his hands.

But like I said, this is not a criticism against the movie. It’s in fact very in character for Triton. One of his defining characteristics is his xenophobia towards land dwellers. It’s to the point that, in terms of a character arc, he’s the main character, not Ariel.

I’m not the first to point this out, of course, but it bears repeating. Triton is the one who develops in the movie. He evolves, going from declaring that Eric’s death would mean “One less human to think about” to actually giving his daughter his blessing when she marries Eric.

He grows from his experiences, having seen the consequences of his actions, with Ursula taking advantage of his xenophobia, and almost costing him his daughter forever.

Not only that, but had he been more open-minded and merciful towards humans, not only would he not have pushed his daughter away, but she might not have developed a fascination with the surface world, simply because there would be fewer ships littering the ocean floor, filled with odd human trinkets.

He is truly the catalyst for everything that happens in the movie, be it through indifference or callousness regarding the lives of humans.

Granted, there may be ecological reasons for not preventing those storms. Maybe stopping those storms might affect the ecosystem of the oceans. I’m not a marine biologist, so I don’t know if that is true or not.

However, even if it IS true, it’s hardly a comfort for all those sons, husbands, fathers, brothers and friends, being suddenly swept off deck into the sea by a freak wave, struggling in vain desperation against the tides as their lungs filled with water…

Just saying…

WTFAW: Harry Potter (pt. 4)

We’re back in the familiar territory of Harry Potter fan theories. Unlike previous occasions, however, we’re only covering one theory today. But I’m sure Dave has managed to balance this lack of theories with some good old weapons grade madness.

Dave: Ok, so you know when Harry first meet Snape?

Yes. It’s during his first potions lesson.

Dave: Exactly. During their first meeting, Snape suddenly throws a question at Harry, out of the blue.

What would I get if I added powdered root of asphodel to an infusion of wormwood?

Yes. And…?

Dave: And that question is actually a secret message!

Really now? And what, may I ask, might that message be?

Dave: Well, in victorian flower language, Asphodel means “My regrets follow you to the grave”, and wormwood means “bitter sorrow”. This translates to “I bitterly regret Lily’s death”.

Right, I see. So, to start with, how does those two sentences translate to that? It seems like a pretty big leap to make.

Dave: Oh, but it isn’t, because Asphodel is actually a type of lily! It all ties together!

No, it isn’t.

Dave: What?

Asphodel isn’t a type of lily. It was believed to be, for a long time. However, it was recently discovered not to be a type of lily at all.

Dave: Well, that doesn’t count! The book takes place in 1991! Snape wouldn’t know that the definition would change after that!

But the book was written in 1997. And even then, when I say it changed recently, I mean relatively speaking. In fact, it changed in 1985, and it was discovered that not only do they not share the same family, they only share a CLADE! In other words, an asphodel is a lily in the same way a HAWK IS A TYPE OF COBRA!

Dave: Ok, but this is the wizarding world! They don’t follow the muggle system of botany, you fool!

Of course they do! Where the hell do you think the word asphodel comes from?! It comes from Asphodelus! As in, the genus for Asphodels! Clearly they do follow our terminology, otherwise they wouldn’t fucking call it an asphodel!

Dave: Oh, so he just picked a pair of flowers who’s hidden meanings just so happened to fit him? That’s a pretty big coincidence, isn’t it?

Not really. Have you actually LOOKED at victorian flower language? That language was created in a time period when flirting and open display of emotions was considered vulgar. The language was there so people could show other people how they felt, without letters or words. There is, for example, no combination of flowers in that language for “Can you pick up some milk on the way home” or “We’ve been invited for tea at the neighbours tomorrow”.

The reason for that is that those are not the messages the language was designed to convey!

In fact, here’s a little game. Here are some common flowers and their meanings according to victiorian floriography.

Adonis: Sorrowful Remembrance Amethyst: Admiration  Forget-me-not: True Love  Lily: Beauty, Love, Elegance Lupine: Imagination Orchid: Beauty Rose: Beauty, Love Tulip: Declaration of Love/Hopeless Love

Obviously, this is far from a complete list of flowers, but they illustrate my point neatly. These are the kinds of meanings the language is meant to convey! All of them can easily be interpeted as fitting with Snapes character. Other meanings include beutiful eyes, sorrow,  devotion, passion, ardour, death.

It’s called Cognitive Bias. You are actively looking for a connection between the very general meaning of the flowers, and Snape’s character. It doesn’t matter what kind of flowers Snape named. The nature of the language means that a connection, no matter how vague, is very likely to be found, simply because you are TRYING TO FIND ONE!

But of course, there are other problems… To start with, Snape just came up with this off the top of his head? Maybe this is just me, but Snape doesn’t seem like the kind of person that keeps an encyclopedic knowledge of floriography. It’d be a bit like finding out that in his spare time, Lucius Malfoy trims Bonsai Trees. I’m not saying he couldn’t, just that it seems a bit unlikely, considering his character.

Not to mention that it’s really lucky that the two plants Snape mentions just HAPPENS to be the ingredients to a super powerful sleeping potion. We’ll just ignore that he asks TWO MORE questions shortly afterwards

(Could be worse, I suppose. It could have been a love potion…)

Furthermore, even if he planned this beforehand, why would Snape send that message at all?

Dave: It’s a tribute to Lily! He’s telling Harry that he is sorry that Lily is dead.

Aaw, that’s sweert. But you know what might be a better tribute? Not treating her only child like crap! And yet, that doesn’t seem to stop Snape from picking on Harry every chance he gets. Not to mention, the message is wasted anyway, since Harry never picks up on it.

But of course, the clincher to me is that the message makes no fucking sense!

You’ve got Asphodel for “My regrets follow you to the grave”. Isn’t that enough of a message, if he wants to convey regret? The bitter sorrow seems a bit reduntant. But then…. what regret is he talking about? He regrets Lily’s death? Why does he regret something HE HAD NO HAND IN!? He didn’t get Lily killed! He may have driven her away, but that’s not what the supposed message refers to, is it?

And then there’s the wormwood. Remind me, Dave, what does wormwood mean, again?

Dave: Bitter sorrow.

Wrong!

That idea is taken from a page on Wikipedia, listing different flowers and their meanings in SEVERAL DIFFERENT CULTURES and often times, these meanings can overlap or outright contradict each other. In victorian flower language, wormwood means absence, not sorrow. Absence and Sorrow are NOT THE SAME THING!

So let’s recap, shall we? The motivation makes no sense, the message makes no sense, the medium makes no sense in regards to the character and one of the supposed meanings is incorrect.

Really, do you want to know why Snape asked Harry that question?

Because Harry is a first year student, who clearly doesn’t know the answer and who (as is repeatedly mentioned throughout the books) happens to look EXACTLY LIKE THE GUY WHO BULLIED SNAPE IN SCHOOL! Hell, later that VERY SAME LESSON, he punishes Harry for Neville messing up a potion!

He is asking those questions because he KNOWS Harry can’t answer! Remember, Snape risked his life, becoming a spy for Dumbledore, specifically to save Lily’s life. And despite this, she still died. Don’t you think it’s likely he has SOME resentment towards Harry, the whole REASON Voldemort killed Lily?

But sure, he’d send a vague, coded messages of sympathy to Harry before tormenting him. It makes perfect sense!

Provided, of course, that you know fuck all about the story or the characters the theory concerns…

 

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WTFAW: Frozen (Pt. 2)

It’s time to revisit the movie that started off Why The Fans are Wrong, the disney pixar phenomenon Frozen.

Dave: That’s right, and lately, there is a theory about this movie that not only has gained popularity, but is far more interesting than the idea that Tarzan is Elsa and Anna’s kid brother.

Oh, joy. And what theory might that be?

Dave: The theory is that Elsa is a lesbian.

Interesting. And what arguments do you have to support this?

Dave: In the movie, Anna gets herself not one, but TWO guys who are interested in her, right?

Yes…?

Dave: Meanwhile, Elsa doesn’t seem to approach any guy in the movie, nor do any guys approach her.

I see. What else?

Dave: What do you mean? That’s it.

What? That’s all you’ve got?!

Dave: Pretty much.

Aha…. All right, let’s begin then.

First off, you say that the fact that no guys seem interested in her is evidence for the theory… Just out of curiosity, Dave, do you know what sexuality is?! Sexuality is somewhat defined by who you find attractive, not the OTHER WAY AROUND!

Also, there’s a pretty good reason nobody approaches Elsa romantically. The only occasion they might have done that is at the big party, right?

Dave: Yeah.

Now, what was that party about? What was the reason for the party, again… oh right, ELSA’S FUCKING CORONATION!

I admit, I’m not an expert of aristocratic etiquette, but I’m pretty certain that going to a coronation and FLIRTING WITH THE QUEEN is a pretty big faux pas! It’s not exactly dignified behavior in high society! Flirting with Anna is a different matter, because she’s the princess. She’s not the main player at this social gathering.

Now, moving swiftly along…

You say that Elsa is lesbian, because she doesn’t seem to seek out any guys in the movie. Maybe we watched different movies, but I don’t recall her approaching any girls either. But hey, I suppose there’s no other reason for her not seeking out a romantic partner. It’s not like she’s been raised for probably more than a decade under the belief that her powers are dangerous, and that she has to suppress her emotions.

Oh wait, yes she has. In fact, it’s THE DRIVING CATALYST OF THE ENTIRE MOVIE!

Remember what she was taught by her father?

Conceal it, don’t feel it, don’t let it show

And then you claim that when she doesn’t go up to the first good looking guy at a party and bats her eyes at him, it proves she’s a lesbian?

Of course it doesn’t! She doesn’t approach anyone, because she has been raised to believe she should isolate herself from everyone, including her own sister. She has been living her life terrified at the idea that she might hurt someone she cares about, something she knows for a fact she has done once already!

Personally, if I were to assume any sexuality, I would say it’s far more likely, considering her upbringing and past, that she’s become ASEXUAL.

Dave: But wouldn’t it be nice if she was lesbian?

Oh, absolutely! I wouldn’t object to her getting a girlfriend in some later movie. As long as it’s not Anna, go right ahead.

Dave: Then this theory should get a pass, shouldn’t it?

No, it shouldn’t! It’s still a stupid theory, because the arguments you have presented do not add up! It requires you to ignore crucial plot details for it to work, and even then, I’d argue the theory does more harm than good to the movie.

Dave: What? Why?

Because the point isn’t that Elsa is a lesbian. The point of the movie is that she is DIFFERENT. And because she is different in a way that nobody is, namely that she can use MAGIC, that becomes a proxy that can be applied to far more than sexuality!

It can be a stand-in for race, religious beliefs, physical disabilities, unusual talents, shortcomings, anything people might unfairly shame you for, anything that makes you UNIQUE! Because it’s something nobody can DIRECTLY relate to, it becomes something almost everyone can relate to INDIRECTLY.

Not to mention that making it all about sexuality also takes away something else from the character.

Think about it. She’s a main character, a FEMALE main character, that isn’t defined or motivated by a love interest. Do you have any idea how rare that is in a movie?! She is a female character who has nothing to do with a romantic story. Anna has the romantic arc, not Elsa. Her story does not need romance to function!

And you want to take that away, because “It would be nice if she’s lesbian”? For a little experiment, consider this: Suppose, for a second, that Elsa’s character was male. Suppose the character was named Elias, and went through the same story arc.

Do you seriously think this theory would exist, about him being gay? Do you think there would be hashtags going around twitter, demanding that disney should #GiveEliasABoyfriend?

Jim Hawking in Treasure Planet was a male character, who did not go through any kind of romantic arc in the movie. Instead it was about him embarking on a character building journey in a massive treasure hunt, and finding a father figure in John Silver. There are no petitions about him getting a boyfriend, are there?

But here, because Elsa’s a girl in a movie, she MUST have a partner! Lesbian or not, the theory is, albeit unintientionally, cementing the idea that girls in movies have to be defined by romance.

Also, if you make Elsa lesbian, because she would be the only confirmed lesbian character in the movie, that indirectly implies that the reason she can do magic is BECAUSE she is lesbian.

And while I do agree that there are few stories that cannot be improved by adding a lesbian character, saying that they are literally magical might be going a bit too far.

And of course, there’s the final problem that, ultimately, this theory is pointless! Really, what difference does this theory make? What does it mean, in regards to the rest of the movie?  Does it change Elsa’s motivation? Does it change the context of the story? No, it doesn’t. Nothing changes at all! It just influences events in a potential SEQUEL.

All this theory is going to accomplish is that, if they make a sequel and Elsa DOESN’T get a girlfriend, people will be outraged, for no other reason than Disney ignoring their fan fiction!

Dave: But it would be so cool! I mean, she could fall in love with a princess from another nation, only this woman can control fire and-

Dave, it’s up to you. You can either stop talking and we can wrap this up, or I can smash your kneecaps with a lump hammer.

Dave: I’ll… stop talking.

Good choice.

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