Tale as old as time

posted on: August 1, 2008

I love Disney's Beauty and the Beast. Adore, more accurately. I guess it was an early passion; I remember attending countless showings of the Disney classic in theaters. Apparently I convinced my morally opposed mother to purchase way too many kid's meals in order to collect the miniature, somewhat deformed toys. When the movie was released on VHS, I sat with plastic Belle in one hand and the Beast in the other, laughing wildly at animated humor that probably wasn't even there. I ran around with a blue towel around my neck, it had to be blue, shouting "Papa, Papa!" Because, of course, a wolf attack was eminant. I wore the binding of four book versions down to the stiff white thread and beaten cardboard. I remember standing impatiently in the Disney Store clutching my new cassette tape soundtrack enclosed in impenetrable plastic. The tape wore out within months. Thank heavens for digital music. The way I listen to this soundtrack, I could haved wiped out Disney's entire stock. So this morning as I jogged to Belle's opening notes (you know, "Little town, it's a quiet village..."), I wondered why this story above the others. There are countless movies with fantastic soundtracks, intriguing characters, danger, love, "far off places, daring swordfights, magic spells, a prince in disguise..." So why is Belle my princess of choice? What is it about her simple ponytail and her "nose stuck in a book?" She's my favorite princess because, well, she's not a princess. We all know the blonde with the golden crown and fairy-produced dress can get the prince. We've seen it a dozen times. And that's charming and magical and perfect, but still a fairy tale. Belle would have to be the human princess. A girl who is driven, loyal, strong, smart, and book-hungry. Belle doesn't settle for the cocky muscle and an ensuing life of wrestling boys and dogs. She finds her prince in a Beast for crying out loud. She doesn't want or ask for perfect. But in the end she deserves it and she gets her happy ending. Belle still gets her dreams and she still gets the sparkling prince and booming choir singing the theme song at the end. But she was herself and she dared to want something different. What kind of happy ending could be better?

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