room and tangled

So Tangled, the movie, is frankly pretty adorable and – better still! – it has respectable worldbuilding! It always drives Claire mad when we stay to watch the credits (“MAMA! I want to LEAVE NOW!”), but people, there was a map! An accurate map, of the fairy kingdom! It was epically cool. Also the heroine getting a (spoiler!) cute short haircut was a key plot point. Also there was a charismatic horse. So I was mostly very happy.

Only mostly, though, because we saw it immediately after I read Emma Donoghue’s Booker-longlisted novel Room, which is based in part on the Fritzl and Dugard kidnappings. Donoghue’s first novel is the exquisite Hood, and I met her a million years ago in Dublin and she was very nice. Like me, she seems to have read every single thing published about Elisabeth Fritzl and Jaycee Dugard. Those kidnappings are at once your worst nightmare and weirdly compelling, because at least the bad man didn’t kill you, right? At least you escaped? But after how much suffering and loss. Here’s a thought to keep you up at night: how many more prisoners are there out there, that we haven’t rescued yet?

The book is beautifully written but I almost couldn’t read it, so fast was I turning the pages to make sure they escaped. It made me claustrophobic. My pulse is racing just thinking about it.

And so to Tangled, where Rapunzel is locked in a tower for eighteen years. My issues with this, where to begin. Note that the bad man has become a Goth woman! And that the kidnapping is not for sex but because of this woman’s vanity! Oh vain women, you are so totally worse than the patriarchy, Disney is kind enough to point out. Note also that Rapunzel’s mother and father never even get to speak, and that the only rescue strategy we see is them flying lanterns every year on her birthday – completely charming, even if appropriated from Thailand and Taiwan, but not exactly thorough.

Rapunzel’s mother and father do not, for example, take the kingdom apart stone by stone with their bare hands.

Dear Goddess in whom I only secretly believe, help me teach my daughters to tear down walls.

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