Cinderella reopened Disney’s floodgates in 1950, busting open the blockbuster box-office that had basically eluded the studio through the 1940s and simultaneously erasing from impressionable young memories the legacy of Rosie the Riveter. Their 1953 follow-up would offer a companion book of Disney Gospel to go with Cinderella’s nightmare vision of broken nuclear family units. Peter Pan, in retrospect, seems much more a footnote among the studio’s 1950s output. Its most enduring image is that of Tinker Bell swirling around EPCOT and using her wand to send a burst of pixie dust across TV screens to tip The Wonderful World of Disney into commercial breaks. Metaphorically, though, this makes Tink and her wand the single most succinct piece of iconography in Disney’s entire commercialized canon. She takes the cash, she cashes the check, she shows Disney what they want to see: product placements, corporate synergy, women reduced to Barbie-doll sizes. Coupled with unconfirmed pedophile (socially, if not sexualy) J. M. Barrie’s advocacy on behalf of refusing to act one’s age and of keeping your dreams from escaping the playpen, the rhetoric of Peter Pan would be nefarious enough without bringing into the mix the “What Make The Red Man Red” number or the fact that it’s Michael Jackson’s favorite film. (Fittingly, the 1990s VHS revival of the Mary Martin live television version revealed that production to be as enduring as Disney’s film, which only serves to highlight the shortsightedness of Disney’s arguments on behalf of fantasy retardation. After all, kids will even accept breasts on Peter Pan and a nelly “Mrs. Hook’s little baby boy” as a villain, so long as you give then a few catchy numbers.) If the men in Peter Pan are all united in their love of war games (the Lost Boys and Indian tribes repeatedly catch each other and then release their prey so as to perpetuate their derring-do), the women fare no better under their two options. Either they follow the lead of Tinker Bell and the nubile inhabitants of the mermaid cove, forever nursing unfulfilled crushes on the prepubescent boy wonder of Never Land which drive them to pouty, vindictive woman-hatery (Tink, at one point, actually tries to have Wendy killed), or they opt to follow the example of Wendy, who skips from grade school-age to schoolmarm without taking so much as a pit stop in between to address that pleading twitch between her thighs. Never Land? More like Never-Gon-Git-It Land.
- Clyde Geronimi, Wilfred Jackson, Hamilton Luske
- Milt Banta, Bill Cottrell, Winston Hibler, Bill Peet, Erdman Penner, Joe Rinaldi, Ted Sears, Ralph Wright
- Bobby Driscoll, Kathryn Beaumont, Hans Conried, Bill Thompson, Heather Angel, Paul Collins, Tommy Luske, Candy Candido, Tom Conway
- Slant is reaching more readers than ever before, but advertising revenue across the Internet is falling fast, hitting independently owned and operated publications like ours the hardest. We’ve watched many of our fellow media sites fall by the way side in recent years, but we’re determined to stick around.
We’ve never asked our readers for financial support before, and we’re committed to keeping our content free and accessible—meaning no paywalls or subscription fees. If you like what we do, however, please consider becoming a Slant patron.
You can also make a one-time donation via PayPal: