A trend in Hollywood, and Broadway for that matter (Wicked, for example), is disturbing me. More and more story lines are blending good and evil. Good guys are not always truly good people, and bad guys are often “just misunderstood.”
Take Disney’s newest movie Maleficent. Can Maleficent, the evil fairy and nemesis of Sleeping Beauty, be in any way good? After all, her very name is derived from the word malicious meaning “having the desire to do harm; spiteful, done intentionally without just cause.” She was so evil that, according to DisneyWiki, Walt Disney’s artists drew horns on her headdress to resemble Satan’s! Of all the evil stepmothers, sorcerers, witches and bad guys in all the Disney princess movies, Maleficent always scared my children the most.
Could she just be misunderstood? Could my children actually like her if only they knew her side of the story?
The modern Disney studio would like to think so. As Disney tells it, in the beginning, Maleficent was a “beautiful, pure-hearted, young woman” who lived an “idyllic life” (Yahoo Review). Then, the wonderful world in which she lives is destroyed, and Maleficent exacts revenge on the beautiful, innocent Sleeping Beauty.
Now, let me say, if this was not just a story, it would be true that we all were created for Goodness, and therefore, we were all created good. Through the waters of Baptism, we are made clean, beautiful and pure-hearted. Still, we have free will. Sometimes, we all make bad choices.
Dr. Elliot Cohen states that “people are not evil because they have done bad things or else we’d all be evil.” He goes on to say, however, that when someone makes a persistent habit of committing seriously bad acts, they know it is bad and do it anyway (definition of mortal sin, by the way), then perhaps we can call that person evil. Evil people take pleasure in causing others pain, he declares. I agree, since this is the total opposite of what God intents for us.
Seems to me, Maleficent falls into the category of evil. Yet, David Blaustien of ABCnews.go.com understands what is going on in Hollywood: “After 100’s of years of moral clarity, suddenly we’re getting a new look at these evil creature who are actually turning out to be complex beings, and not that bad at all. Really, they ‘ve just been misunderstood.” Is that so?
I guess so, since on the Disney channel, two young Disney actors preview the movie. They praise and are enamored with Maleficent’s magical power, wishing they could do in a flick of the wrist what she can do. They end the segment with the young man asking the young lady if she thinks Maleficent is a heroine or a villain, to which she decides “A bit of both, I think!”
Oh, how Satan must be smiling. Disney, whether they realize it or not, is working with him to achieve one of his greatest goals – get us to deny that evil actually exists. If you doubt this is indeed a goal of Satan, read The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis.
In the age-old story of Sleeping Beauty, Maleficent finds the hidden princess, causes her death-sleep and imprisons the prince to prevent his attempt to save Sleeping Beauty.
Rumor has it that the modern tale is changed. Maleficent finds redemption. I am all for conversion (a change of heart) and redemption. But then, that’s not the true account of the villain. That would be a new, altered version of the Maleficent’s life. As in Wicked, one would have to suspend all that is known about the real story for the new version to make sense.
In this case, also, evil has been explained away or plain ole ignored. Satan is still gleeful. If there is no evil, there is no devil; if there is no devil, there is no Hell. If there is no Hell, then who are we to tell others what is moral or immoral. We are be labeled bullies and haters for imposing morals on others.
Furthermore, it is ironic to me, that in this day and age of huge anti-bullying campaigns, ultimate bullies are being glamorized. Will our daughters be asking for Maleficent dolls? Amazon has them for only $15.95!
While my daughters are not asking for the doll – yet, they are asking to see the movie. After all, the film is being marketed quite extensively on the Disney channel.
Let me say here that while I would never buy the doll, I may see the movie, not at the theater, but perhaps rent the DVD. Seeing the show with my children would be an excellent teaching moment. It is important to help them recognize the tactics of the Father of Lies.
When a girl can walk away from the movie thinking perhaps Maleficent is more of a super-heroine than evil fairy, then Satan has won a battle. Though, not to worry, I’ve read the book, and I know who wins the war in the end!
So what do you think? Am I making much ado about nothing?
Copyright 2014 Kelly Guest