One of the first memories I have is the Disney movie 101 Dalmatians. I was 9 or so when I first laid eye on Cruella DaVille. Cloned from Phyllis Diller and Joan Collins’ lesbian relationship, Cruella scared the crap out of me. Her boisterous attitude, the long cigarette, the out of control hair, mysterious all-covering fur coats all combined to remind me of the worst of my mother. But seeing how this is a post about Disney villains and not some pseudo Freudian inner sexual rant, I will continue.
There are strict rules about how we perceive a villain in the Wonderful World of Disney. The fastest way I can describe it is this: they’re either male or female. Congratz, you say! Hear me out:
The Men. All Disney Male Villains (DMVs) MUST have a British accent. Why? Because to Americans, a good North London born and bred voice sounds pompous and condescending, making our hatred gland secrete ire for anyone smarter than us. With the pompousness, comes a pseudo-homosexual undertone designed to sexually offset kids’ budding sexuality in the audience (or hetero parents, for that matter). Oddly enough I know no homosexual who actually disliked a Disney villain, male or female (females do rate higher though). The best male villains rolled their r’s and swirled their hands in large circles (from the wrist) when flamboyantly revealing their sick and twisted plots to a captive hero. When confronting their nemesis, DMVs looked upon their goody goody enemies with half closed eyes and big bottom lips, jutted out in feigned interest. This was usually followed by the DMV placing the hero in such a complex trap, the gods themselves couldn’t ex the machina.
Proof? Here are some prime examples:
Jafar (Alladin): Can you say Joan Crawford in reverse mandrag? The droll downcast eyes and harsh uplighting in every scene would make any drag queen jealous. And those lips. I swear to god he’s wearing eyeliner and eye shadow.
Scar (Lion King): Voiced by Jeremy Irons. Remember him? Dead Ringers? Creepy. Scar is pretty much my cornerstone DMV. He explodes at his stupid henchmen, plots three steps ahead of the writers themselves and you know that as soon as he reaches power in the pride, he is going to have a Caligula-esque orgy within hours.
Professor Rattagan (The Great Mouse Detective): Vincent Price’s lilting foppish voice was perfect as the evil master mind nemesis to Basil (“Oh I love it love it love it,” he chants in one scene, like some queen at a Banana Republic year end sale). Mentioning Rattagan’s true self as a rat and you are fed to an obese fag-hag like cat. How’s that for denial?
Judge Claude Frollo (The Hunchback of Notre Dame): The most sexually fragmented character ever created by Disney. Don’t know him? Maybe you remember his voice as MegaByte from Reboot? Or even more obscure as Chairface Chippendale from The Tick (cartoon, not live action)? No? How about the voice of The Supreme Being from Time Bandits? He has a silky commanding voice and deserves better work than the crappy video games he’s been voicing lately. Who can forget his passionate song to a flaming fireplace as he tries to deal with lust and his piousness? While not gay, certainly he was repressed.
Sir Hiss (Robin Hood): Not so much Brit Evil than creepy smarmy sounding snake. With a lisp. And check out that penile head!
Gaston (Beauty and the Beast): No British accent but he is egotistical, narcissistic, body conscious, proud of his hairy chest, mentions his many hunting conquests and reveres his ability to spit. Can you say overcompensation?
Captain Hook (Peter Pan): Fresh cabin boy, anyone?
The Women: In the Disney universe, female villains are either skeletally emaciated or extremely fat, but most certainly are always Vamps, in the post-war, VD spreading way. Definitely Tramps. Their voices may not be played by British actors or have that Eton taught quality, but there is a throaty, gutteral and husky quality to their voice. I suspect these characters are played this way to entice underdeveloped fears of sexually from immature male children, confusing the crap out of them and making them squirm in their theatre seats. The Disney Female Villain (DFV) is always manic and prone to violent mood swings, going from sultry seductress to exploding volcano, swatting their henchmen with solidly placed firebolts or back hands, in seconds. Their make up is extreme, verging into scary clown effect. Their clothes are always ill fitting, either too loose to give a glimpse of side boob (Yzma, played by Ertha Kitt, in The Emperor’s New Groove) or too tight (Ursula, The Little Mermaid) to offer more curvaceous visuals.
The average DFV is overtly sexual:
The Witch (Snow White): A fine start to all of Disney’s villains by creating this rather anti-Christian device of black magic. As a large hag, her eyes are puffy and downright scary. In her true form, she looks down upon all with her half closed, painted lids. Sheï¿½s the aunt that doesnï¿½t approve of your birth.
Malificent (Sleeping Beauty) and Lady Tremaine (Cinderella): Joan Crawford was obviously the model for these two villainesses! What is it with everyone fearing large shoulders, smoldering eyes and wicked lips? In the end Malificent is run through with a sword while she’s a dragon. I will just shake my head at the sexual imagery here. Lady T was always looking at Cinderella’s buttkus as she cleaned floors.
Ursula (Little Mermaid): Fat. Pat Carrol. Shakes rump a lot. Fearsome.
Madame Mim (Sword In the Stone): I chose her because she’s prime cross over material: British accent AND a woman. Actually Martha Wentworth was born in NYC but she did a great job with the voice. Boastful and a poor dresser.
Cruella de Ville (101 Dalmations, etc): As I mentioned, her frail skinny body kept under layers of furs and loose fitting cocktail dresses is pure Die Gï¿½tterdï¿½mmerung harpy sans wings. She came across like she had just polished off a 5th of gin and that would make any Al Anon kid nervous.
To sum up, Villains from Disney are designed for us to hate them for the following didactic reasons: they get our ire by their pompous, overbearing, authority-hating accent and a vague sexual fear, either by grating against our orientation or by confusing us with unleashed passions.