Thursday, March 1, 2012

#13 - King Rose Petal and Emperor Prickle

Ah parents. The great scholar Willard Christopher Smith Jr. once said:
"You know parents are the same
No matter time nor place
They don't understand that us kids
Are going to make some mistakes
So to you, all the kids all across the land
There's no need to argue
Parents just don't understand"

Wise words. True in this life and in fantasy. And parents in fantasy often play crucial roles in the rebellious nature protagonists tend to have. The overbearing parent can tell a child "No" and that just causes them to do the very opposite. I wonder if Juliet would've been all that interested in Romeo if he were just Romeo Brown, the dude from the next kingdom over. Her parents had to be all forbidding and she was all ready to show them what she thought of that. Teenagers, dey tink dey know everyting. The outright "No, My Way Or Else" attitude has caused Pocahontas to take the rapids around the river bend to seek out the strange John Smith; Mulan to take up the sword of her father to protect her family's honor; and of course, Ariel's desire to be part of our world. We all have that natural fire of curiosity that is only fanned by "No!".
And if it is not the outspoken, the silent fear of parents who carefully hide the world from their child can be an invisible guiding hand as well. The fear that the child will go astray can cause a parent to hold on too tightly and only cause more desire to escape. Kala couldn't keep Tarzan from his humanity forever; Mother Robinson had to help her husband let go when Fritz and Ernst started becoming men; Arrietty was shocked to find that there were other Borrowers out in the world. How do parents find that balance of protector and observer? Often the parent - more often the stepparent - can be that villainous force that holds the hero back. But I prefer the parents who simply fear the world and what it could and will do to their little ones. Those parents have heart.
The fathers in The Princess Knight are the same as many fathers in fairy tales. They care, but they hold their offspring back too. They take too much control of their child's life. Rose Petal has carefully raised his adventurous Scarlet by keeping her interest in the great big world and its possibilities satiated with every story, play, and poem that the kingdom has, but he is determined to have her marry the correct prince. He says in the opening of the show:
"I protect Scarlet and I keep her close,
And let her dream at her behest.
But dreams are only that.
They are not the way of the world.
I'll choose the right life for my daughter.
Before being king, I'm her father."

He knows she is a dreamer, and he let's her have those, but in the end, he knows what is best for her.
Emperor Prickle has been preparing his first born to become a ruler since the day Sandstone was born. He has given the boy ever bit of training and skill so that when the time comes, he will be a great and intelligent King. Unfortunately, all that time preparing Sandstone meant less time was spent on Chester. Prickle does not understand the younger prince. Maybe Prickle never had brothers; he simply does not know what princes who will never be king do. So, he encourages Chester's imagination. He let's him play, pretend, sing, and roam about, but he doesn't put much thought into what Chester thinks is important. He says honestly, "I have only ever wanted the best for my sons." But he just doesn't get his second born.
Neither of these men are bad fathers. They both are doing their absolute best to raise children while they lead kingdoms. But Rose Petal's decision to see Scarlet married and Prickle's impatience with Chester lead to the adventure the two lovers go on. What that makes them to the audience is a matter of perspective. I myself do not see them as villains in any fashion, but that might have something to do with my own parents.
I don't mean to brag... well... actually, I do mean to brag a little bit, but my mom and dad did a pretty darn good job raising me. They always encouraged my creativity. They always supported my decisions (even if they didn't agree with something like, say, moving across the country), and they still want to know that I'm doing okay. My sense of humor and leadership came from my dad. My stubbornness and determination came from my mom. They disciplined me enough that I have a strong sense of right and wrong - stronger than many my age, but they let me fly high even if I got a little too close to the sun a few times. I might be a bit... odder than my siblings, but all of us turned out pretty well. They might not have, as the Freshest of Princes said, understood me, but they loved me, and that's what parents should always do in this life and in fantasy.
One last thing: I realize that I seem to have followed suit with a supposed classic trope of the Disney animated movies by not having any mothers in this show. Mothers seem to get the short end of the stick in the Disney animated library. In many of the films, the hero is motherless (Little Mermaid, Chicken Little, Lilo and Stitch, Pocahontas, Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, Sword and the Stone,), or the mother has died and a wicked step mother has shown up (Snow White and Cinderella), or the mom is actually whacked right there for us to see (Hunchback and Bambi). Walt Disney himself loved his mother very much, and didn't have a step one to base the evil ones on. So why is this common in the films? Well... seemingly common. It is not as prevalent as some think. There are many Disney moms alive and well (Mrs. Dumbo, Mrs. Darling, Sleeping Beauty's Mother, Perdita, Mulan's mother AND grandmother, Duchess, Sarabi, Ms. Hawkins, Repunzel's and Tiana's mothers too). So, the curse isn't as big of a deal as some make it out to be. It probably only seems that way because of those classics like Snow White and Cinderella that make it appear that mothers don't stand a chance in Disney movies. As far as Rose Petal and Prickle are concerned, I am not against casting mothers instead. Their genders are not as important as other characters.

No comments:

Post a Comment