And now, for something not so different…

Last post was about an accidental soundtrack of sorts. This one, not so much.

For better or for worse, music has always been a driving force in my life. It’s cheered me up and put me to sleep and calmed me down and inspired me to create when nobody else could. It’s been a caretaker of sorts.

Some of my earliest memories are of music. Singing in the car, watching Beauty and the Beast (and loving the music was about the only reason I’d watch, because the beast was scary as hell), my mom putting on music when she was cleaning or cooking, my dad conducting a symphony in the kitchen with a carving knife (I swear my childhood was completely normal!)… Not much takes me that far back that fondly.

Some of the most moving pieces of music I’ve come across are parts of (or even whole) soundtracks. Obviously, there’s Fantasia, but I’m talking about pieces and composers that aren’t necessarily instantly recognized. Alan Menken, for instance. Anyone know his name? Chances are, unless you’re a Disney-phile, you probably don’t. He wrote the scores for both Beauty and the Beast and Tangled, which are not entirely coincidentally my all-time favorite Disney movies. Listen to the prologue (also titled “The Enchantress”) of Beauty and the Beast. That little motif is what ties the story together for me, as you’ll note it is also used in “Transformation” near the end. As haunting and high and uncertain as it begins the movie, it returns a million times stronger and more brilliant, and I love both pieces equally. Though they’re musically similar, you cannot compare them and come out with one better than the other.

Menken’s work in Tangled was a bit less strong, I think, but “Kingdom Dance” is just so much fun, and the beginning of “The Tear Heals” is just perfect. I mean, the guy’s music is brilliant all around, and the songs you can sing along to are very catchy. There are days I wish I was a booming… whatever range Richard White (the voice of Gaston) is. Baritone? I dunno, and my more musically inclined brother will probably kill me if he ever sees this, but honestly, I can read music and sing, and I know the difference between a bass clef and a treble clef, and that’s all she wrote.

Several Miyazakai movies, most composed by Joe Hisaishi, make their way in here, too. Perhaps surprisingly, they’re the movies I tend to like less. Spirited Away had some pretty cool music, as did Howl’s Moving Castle, but my favorite pieces actually come from “Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind” (“Nausicaa’s Requiem”, also called “Lalala” earlier on) and “Castle In the Sky” (“Confessions in the Moonlight”).

And now, a sampling of a few more soundtracks that I just can’t seem to get away from: Despicable Me (especially the titular track by Pharell Williams), Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog (and Commentary: The Musical), Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (yes, the late-80’s B-movie—judge all you want), the soundtracks of the first two Shrek movies, Pokémon: the First Movie, Star Wars (the boyfriend proceeded to introduce me to this gem. I have not gotten over it since.), and, from Warehouse 13, “Running Up That Hill” as covered by Track and Field. I might have cried. Again, judge all you want.

Of course, there’s about a bajillion and two-thrids (possibly three-fourths) animes I’m not naming, and a few live action ones. (Okay, I’ll plug for a few more Disney movies: Parent Trap—the newer one, again, with no shame—and, from The Big Green, “I Believe in You” and “Sunny Side Up”. Holes had a good one going, too.) A few shows have given me lots of good music—Haven, Warehouse 13, Pretty Little Liars… Yes, I know. I know. I also recently picked up Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Doctor Who, and each has a fairly good selection.

There’s also game soundtracks. Jazz Jackrabbit has an amazing one. I love most of the Sonic the Hedgehog soundtracks, too. I particularly like DeDeDe’s theme in the Kirby games, as well as the Fountain of Dreams theme. Super Smash Bros. Brawl’s Subspace Emissary game-within-a-game had some pretty rockin’ music. And, of course, can’t forget Legend of Zelda.

As I’ve doubtless mentioned in at least one post, I’ve usually got a song or two that I’m just feeling at the moment—it sort of becomes my day’s (or week’s) soundtrack. Three Days Grace and Story of the Year are both good for attacking a very dirty bathroom. B*Witched is good for a happily creative day. Willa Ford and City High are for when I’m feeling particularly sassy. Nanne Grönvall (Yup, pullin’ out the Swedish, here.) is also a sassy one. P!nk for rebelliousness. Nightwish for sadness. Enya for meditation. And my whole “Before 2000” YouTube playlist for nostalgia.

Music: my drug (I would say my anti-drug, but I’ve never had the want to experiment in the first place), my life.

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Letting Your Kids Watch Disney Won’t Ruin Them, I Swear

Watching Disney movies in college gives you a rather different perspective on them than you had when you were little. Or, at least, the movies are a lot more understandable in light of the knowledge you gain as you go through school.

Some people are okay with this. It makes movies more enjoyable and easier to watch multiple times when you going, “Hey, I never noticed that before!” But I’ve also heard friends say, “Oh my God, these movies are horrible! I’m never letting my child watch them at a young age!”

When remarks like that are made, I’ve often said, “Hold on just a second. How much of that can you honestly say you understood when you watched that at five?” and about as often gotten back some stuttering about how it’s still in there and that’s not okay before the eventual grumble of “None of it…”

Often, it’s that people don’t want their children to learn bad behaviors. There’s also a protective instinct to shield young ones from scary or sad scenes. Honestly, I remember being upset at Mufasa’s death in The Lion King. I remember being scared out of my wits at Aladdin’s escape from the cave of wonders. I remember the Beast teaching me that anger can be a scary, ugly thing. I remember Gaston teaching me that being arrogant can get you your way, but it will make a lot of people think you’re a tier-1 jerkface.

See, the world isn’t perfect, and in those movies, no matter how dark they get, there is happiness. Often enough, the ending is happy. That’s the reward to the viewer for sticking with it. And when you think about it, things are happier now than they were when fairytales by the brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Anderson were what children were expected to read or listen to. (We get such watered down versions of them today; if you read the original versions, there’s some REALLY dark stuff in there!)

Then, there’s also a huge feminist argument against a lot of Disney movies. I completely understand where that’s coming from. Really, I didn’t want to watch Snow White or Sleeping Beauty because I thought they were really, really boring.

Then again, with two older brothers and no sisters, I also grew up watching Star Wars and The Real Adventures of Johnny Quest and playing with Legos and Hot Wheels. I played Star Wars at recess with the boys, and I enjoyed my fair share of rough-housing, but I also loved to watch the pretty Disney princesses. It never occurred to me that society thought any one of those activities was “wrong” or “right” for little girls to want to do—I was just having fun! I invented stories with my dolls and stuffed animals, and I had fun dressing up in a tutu just as much as those activities I mentioned that are more thought of as boys’ activities.

Disney didn’t teach me how to be a girl, and that’s definitely not for lack of exposure. I freakin’ loved those movies and would watch them every chance I got. Heck, I don’t think I ever actually learned how to be a girl, which explains a lot, if you know me. What Disney taught me—what everything taught me when I was little—was how to be me, and to accept myself for who I am, and not let some Gaston mold me to his will or some Scar try to intimidate me into doing things I did not want to or should not do… you get the picture. (Side note: Disney also did not give me body-image issues. I came by those long after I stopped watching a Disney movie a day, and even now, I’ve never cared about how “fat” I am relative to an animated character. Or a live-action one, for that matter.)

I’m okay with the color pink. I like princess stories (though the princess can’t be a damsel in distress for half the book, or I just give up). And there’s a certain je ne sais quoi about the kitchen that keeps me in there probably far more often than is really healthy for me. But I also like the color blue, watching things explode, and working with power tools. Disney never said I couldn’t do both. But if they—or anyone—were to say that? I’d have a few rather rude suggestions for what they should do before continuing on my merry way.

So yeah, when I get around to having kids, they’ll totally be allowed to watch Disney movies. In fact, I might make them, even if they don’t want to.

Kidding.

Sort of…

Anyway, these hypothetical children will be allowed to watch and ask questions and form their own beliefs about what they can and can’t do, and I really hope that they, like me, don’t do things just because “that’s what girls/boys do—and the other gender doing them is wrong”, but because they want to. And I will try to keep my laughter at the less appropriate jokes down until they’re old enough to understand, then watch them possibly go through that same phase of horror/shock when they realize there’s a reason why adults find these things funny, and THEN watch them realize that it’s okay because they didn’t get it, and Disney didn’t ruin them, either.