Gidget < Mulan

The other day, I caught an old episode of Gidget, a short-lived TV series from the ’60s, which starred a young Sally Field as the title character. In this episode, Gidget enrolls in her school’s auto shop class so she can learn car maintenance and buy a fancy hearse from a guy at the beach.

She was convinced she could be just as good with cars as the guys were. At the urging of Gidget’s father, the guys in her auto shop class treated her exactly like one of the guys – no special treatment, and she folded under the pressure. She gave up on auto shop and decided that she much more preferred being a girly girl in a pretty dress. When she and her date experienced car problems at the end of the episode, she took care of it – not by wielding a wrench or tire iron but by using her feminine wiles. While her date was unable to fix the car, she used her femininity to stop a passing motorist who then fixed the car for them.

Gidget ended the episode with these words of advice for the audience: “No woman is helpless as long as there’s a man around! And as long as she remembers she’s a woman!”

Call me feminist if you will, but this quote made me regret the half hour spent watching Gidget. It also made me realize how much more awesome Mulan is than Gidget.

1. Mulan wanted to be one of the guys – not to buy and maintain her own car – but to keep her aging and ailing father from going to war.
2. Mulan’s (super hot) army general and fellow warriors treat her exactly like one of the guys (if not worse) – not because her father wants to trick Mulan into giving up and going home – but because they have no idea she’s a girl.
3. Even when military training gets difficult and almost physically impossible, Mulan doesn’t trade in her armor for a dress. She persists with the “strength of a raging fire” and retrieves that arrow from the top of the wooden pole!
4. Even when Mulan is revealed to be a woman and is abandoned by the army on a snowy mountaintop – SPOILER ALERT – she SAVES CHINA.

If Mulan ever came face to face with Gidget… “Girl, please!”

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

I’ve been pretty hooked on ABC’s Once Upon a Time, a Sunday night drama that takes a fresh look at the fairy tales we all know. Well, the fairy tales almost everyone knows. As I’ve been watching this show, I’m realizing that I am rather unfamiliar with these classic stories.

When I was a kid, I watched my Disney Sing Along Songs VHS tapes over and over again (much to the delight of my siblings and parents, I’m sure…). We owned “Heigh-Ho,” “The Bare Necessities,” “Under the Sea,” and “Disneyland Fun” – four volumes of the Sing Along Songs series. We didn’t own, however, any of the actual Disney movies (except for a bootleg copy of Cinderella). So while I knew many Disney songs word for word, I had never seen the actual movie. (It’s safe to say I haven’t seen most Disney films that were released prior to 1987.)

Such was the case with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. I could sing for you “Whistle While You Work” or even “The Dwarf’s Yodel Song,” but I couldn’t tell you anything about the story. I knew there was a girl named Snow White. I knew there were seven dwarfs. And I was pretty sure there was a prince and a kiss, too. But I couldn’t tell you how the Huntsman and Evil Queen came into the picture or how Snow White ended up living with “seven little men,” as she puts it.

Now that I’ve seen the actual movie and have a better understanding of the story, Once Upon a Time is a little less confusing. That doesn’t mean the movie didn’t leave me with a few questions…

1. What the heck is a “scullery maid”?
2. Couldn’t the woodland creatures have led Snow White to an UNoccupied cottage?
3. Why is Snow White ordering the dwarfs around and telling them how to run their home when she’s an uninvited guest? (It reeks of Western colonialism.) And why do the dwarfs just do everything she says? Is it because she’s pretty or because she’s a princess?
4. Who leaves the windows open when there’s a blood-thirsty evil queen out there?!
5. Don’t tell me the dwarfs weren’t just the least bit jealous that some prince just swooped in and stole their pretty roommate!

FYI: I’m pretty sure the only pre-1987 Disney animated features I have seen (in their entirety) are Bambi, Cinderella, and Alice in Wonderland. Bambi and Cinderella are on the same bootleg VHS tape, and I watched Alice in Wonderland in 8th grade health class during the unit on drugs. Just say no, kids.

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