with Lynne and Leslie

So then there was that time I ruined “The Little Mermaid” for my friend

by SweetMidlife

Leslie here!

Mickey and his friends have told some good stories. And some are about compromising your dreams for a dude.

Mickey and his friends have told some good stories. And some are about compromising your dreams for a dude.

I swear I am not that person.

I am not that awful pop culture ruiner who lives to horn their buzz-kill way into conversations they aren’t sometimes even in, lying in wait to hear others discuss their entertainment loves, the things they hold dear, and then crap all over those dear things because they are evil. Nonetheless, yesterday I innocently but completely ruined “The Little Mermaid,” a favorite movie of my friend Carol, not because I was trying to, but because I couldn’t shut my trap.

I was right about what I said. But now I feel bad about saying it.

Here’s what went down: Somehow, Carol and I, who sit near each other at work, started talking about Idina Menzel, of whom Carol is a huge fan and whom she saw in concert with her daughter. We laughed about how at her upcoming show, 80 percent of the audience won’t know her as the Tony-winning Broadway legend but as the voice of Queen Elsa from “Frozen,” because that movie’s so over-the-top popular with the young kiddies that they’re practically a cult now. And then we laughed about how “Let It Go,” the cult theme song, isn’t even all that good a song, and how we liked “Frozen” OK but didn’t love, love it. (Stand down, “Frozen” fans. I am not the enemy.) And for that second we were so connected and chill.

And then Carol said “Well, my favorite Disney movie is actually ‘The Little Mermaid,'” to which I should have responded “Really? That’s so great! What great music!” because those are things I believe, without mentioning the thing I most believe, which is that “The Little Mermaid” is a movie with great music and a heroine who actually gives up her voice – HER VOICE – for a chance at meeting a guy she’d never actually spoken to when he was conscious. She gave up her voice for love. She had no voice. I don’t know what to say here. But her voice though.

I should not have maybe said that last part, or at least as emphatically as I did. But I did, and I saw Carol’s eyes kinda widen and try to figure out whether she should laugh, cry or smack me.

“You overthought it, girl. You’re getting too deep and you ruined my thing,” she said. “You’re evil.”

I started apologizing because I was not trying to be that person, or blow her mind or change it or do anything to her mind. I was just frothing at the mouth about a thing that has been a thing for me for a while, and which, again, I am right about, because it is exactly the wrong message to send to girls that giving up the most treasured part of yourself like Ariel did. She was young and sheltered and felt sure that this burst of wonder and curiousity she felt for Prince Eric, who she saved from a shipwreck, combined with the fantasy importance she’d already built up about the people on land who understand and don’t reprimand their daughters, was worth not only her beautiful singing voice, but her ability to speak at all. She also got a painful mystical tail-ectomy to form legs she had to learn to walk on, meaning she could never go home to the sea and travel freely in her natural state. Of course, when kids see it they might just hear the wonderful songs, or the silly fish and crabs and stuff, or thrill to the adventure.

But then they’ll learn that the title character, admittedly misguidedly, traded her voice for a guy. No…not even a guy. The chance to get a guy. And then the evil witch her she traded it to stole it, tried to pass herself off as the lady who’d saved the prince, and then tried to kill them both. As you do. I have thought this for 25 years, but Carol had not, so I took her out of a place where she could just enjoy a thing and into a reality where she could never look at the movie she loved the same again.

I felt awful.

“Do you feel awful? I don’t think you feel awful enough.”

But I do. I really do.

By the time I left the office and she had literally walked me to the stairwell to tell me again that I was an evil thing stealer, Carol smiled and told me that when she spoke to her awesome college-aged daughter next, she was going to ask her if she ever thought about Ariel’s sacrifice and what that actually meant, because even though I had messed with her head – “Mind blown!” – I had given her something think about.

“You’re still evil, though.”

Yeah. I know.

Her voice, though.


14 Responses to “So then there was that time I ruined “The Little Mermaid” for my friend”

  1. You’re not evil at all! I’ve gone on many a social media rant against this movie since my toddler started watching it. Okay so even if you can overlook the voice (HOW COULD ANYONE?!) she’s 16! She’s never spoken to him! Don’t even get me going…again. And, don’t feel so bad 😉

  2. hperella@gmail.com' hollyanne says:

    You went deep on that one, Leslie.
    I too, crushed my niece’s dreams about a movie, albeit it wasn’t nearly as profound as your crushing.
    She thought that Jack and Rose were real people on the Titanic….you should’ve seen her confused little 20-year old face when I tried to explain to her that yes, the ship did sink, but there was no love story (not that we officially know of). Poor thing is still scarred, I think.

  3. puhtrees@live.com' Patrise says:

    In college I took a 1 credit course and learned about analyzing movies. It was more thought-provoking than I expected. Years later, I re-watched the movie Anastia with my now grown daughter. While it was playing I googled the storyline knowing that is is based in true events and destroyed my daughter’s nostalgic view of the movie. Reality had no happy ending. I felt and still feel bad about it. Sometimes the truth hurts and we don’t know how much until it’s out.

    • SweetMidlife says:

      Hi! Lynne here. And yes, I always thought that it was so strange that they made a children’s movie about Anastasia because of the tragedy of the real story, although I love that movie.

  4. vixn@earthlink.net' Paige says:

    Nope; I’m going with evil. And a hypocrite. Let she who has not made completely dumb, even dangerous, life decisions in the name of love cast the first seashell. Where’s the value is bursting someone’s whimsy bubble? To be “right”? Some things are better left unsaid (where’s Hall & Oates when you need them?).

    • SweetMidlife says:

      Lynne here! Love you/ SO much. YET. I would say hypocrite is a stretch, cousin. Haven’t you ever spoken your own truth and offended someone in the process, even when you didn’t set out to? She doesn’t feel good about it. And she didn’t do it in glee. It’s all good. Thanks for sharing. I know you love mermaids and the whimsy and joy and mystery they possess.

  5. lelu01@bellsouth.net' Leslie says:

    Cousin Girl: As I wrote, I felt awful because I wasn’t trying to break anyone’s whimsy anything. I just offered an opinion without thinking – we all have opinions – and as an adult I immediately realized “Well, that didn’t help anything.”
    The PS is that Carol just came up to me and said that when she spoke to her daughter, she said “I already knew that!”
    You know I am not a cruel person and would never do that on purpose, which was the point of saying I should have shut my trap. Nothing hypocritical about that. Can’t wait to see you this weekend!
    And HALL AND OATES ARE EVERYWHERE.

  6. mrs.aok05@gmail.com' Mrs. AOK says:

    WHOA! That was deep, but totally true. In re-watching all of these movies as an adult I find myself questioning the moral of the story. I don’t want to be a bubble buster, but sometimes I have to point out to my girls, “Ummm no, that’s not right.” However, my 13 year-old is quite capable of pointing out injustices and absurdity for herself and her sister. 🙂
    XOXO

  7. ma@marianallen.com' Marian Allen says:

    As a serial overthinker, I sympathize with both you AND Carol. I did my best to ruin the movie things of one teenage daughter, sating things like, “Being a whore is not romantic, even if you get paid lots and wear pretty clothes. Men calling women Jugs is not funny. Wrecking cars is not cool.” Yeah, rained on the parade, but I felt it was my DUTY, you know? ~sigh~

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