Sean Beckwith: Villains have gone soft
Getting out of the mountains for the first time since August almost felt like a caveman thawing out. It was overcast outside yet I was still comfortable in shorts and a T-shirt. This is the part where I could weave a story about my trip to hang out with family in the Denver area.
However, I’m not going to do that for a few reasons.
1. No one but like three people wants to read that.
2. The people of Aspen want hard-hitting journalism.
3. I spaced on brainstorming a column idea until super late because I was hanging out with family.
4. Writing about how cute my nephew is — while incredibly easy and content-laden — is the exact thing I roll my eyes at when people use it as a column crutch.
So, I sat down and looked at the long list of viable topics. Ascendigo? Too easy. Aspen’s NIMBYs in denial? Done that. Aspen Music School Festival charging for lawn seating? I never went when it was free.
I settled on something near and dear to someone special’s heart: Disney movies. Now, I can’t rank my favorite princesses because those weren’t my Disney movies. That said, OG Disney — the hand-drawn joints — had exceptional villains who could put a scare into young Sean.
New kids movie villains just don’t have that god-driven fear to them. Who’s the bad guy in “Up”? Old age? Infertility? The villain is the good guy in “Despicable Me.” I like my children to be entertained and a little afraid so they don’t want to sit in front of the TV all day. That’s what my parents should’ve done to get us out of the house; go play outside or watch a “Hill Have Eyes” marathon. Without further rambling, here’s my list of scariest Disney villains:
10. Scar, “The Lion King”: No one is scared of Scar. He’s all roar, only calculated bite, like Little Finger from “Game of Thrones.” You’re more fearful of the wildebeest and maybe the hyenas than Scar. He got punked at the end of the movie. He’s more hated than scary.
9. Gaston, “Beauty and the Beast”: The most dangerous thing about Gaston is his charisma. The townsfolk naturally follow him, even when he’s about to storm a castle and kill the Beast without as much as a conversation. If they weren’t so biased, it could’ve been a mutually beneficial relationship. “If you can find a lady while helping us build some infrastructure, feel free.”
8. Maleficent, “Sleeping Beauty,” the Evil Queen “Snow White” and Lady Tremaine “Cinderella”: These three villains all have similar motivations, so I combined them. Two are mad because home girls are prettier than them, and the other is mad because she didn’t get an invite to a party. All three are interesting studies because the attractiveness equals good and ugliness equals evil concepts have almost been flipped on their heads in current storytelling. Also, there’s something naturally scary about old fairy tales.
7. Jafar, “Aladdin”: Jafar is pretty despicable throughout the movie. From disguising himself as an old man to manipulate Aladdin to steal the lamp, to arranging a forced marriage to the princess, it’s all pretty heinous. That said, when he finally gets the lamp, it’s almost like when Thanos gets the Infinity Gauntlet. Aladdin didn’t need a sequel to figure it out, but I thought he was done for.
6. Ursula, “The Little Mermaid”: I remember not liking this movie solely because of Ursula. I’m not saying the movie was bad, I’m just saying it wasn’t one of the movies I watched on repeat because I was like, shit, Ursula, you really are just a hater. Add in the witchcraft, the manipulation, her general vibe and the eel sidekicks, and I’m out.
5. Shan Yu, “Mulan”: Other than surviving an avalanche and popping up like daisies, Huns became more frightening as I gained context about actual Huns, who by all accounts were as awful as they were deadly. It was almost unnecessarily violent to have Shan Yu order his No. 2 to shoot one of the scouts in the back (because it only takes one man to deliver a message) but also pretty on brand.
4. Percival C. McLeach and Joanna the goanna, “Rescuers Down Under”: It’s been forever since I’ve seen Rescuers, but here’s a quick refresher, McLeach poaches rare golden eagles, and when a young child falls into one of his cages, he fakes the kid’s death in order to use him to find a mother eagle. Also, kudos to whoever’s idea it was to use a lizard as a sidekick/attack dog.
3. Governor Ratcliffe, “Pocahontas”: Thank god Disney didn’t go full on genocide with this one. Like the Huns, in hindsight, Governor Ratcliffe becomes scarier when you add context. He’s looking for nonexistent gold, shooting unarmed people and repeatedly referring to Indians as savages. Not a great look for colonizers.
2. Cruella de Vil, “101 Dalmatians”: I’m surprised this movie is being remade in a “Joker”-esque fashion. The Joker kills people for fun, but even after he killed the Eastern European mob boss in “Dark Knight,” he kept the guy’s dogs. Killing puppies for a Dalmatian fur coat would get you canceled so fast in 2021 that I don’t know how they’re going to make Cruella 2021-able.
1. Man, “Bambi”: Talk about a tough look for humans — and a children’s movie. Not only does Bambi’s mom get popped, but so does Bambi, who at the same time is trying to escape a wildfire that the hunters started. The only worse look for humans would be if they hit Bambi with their Escalade while fleeing the fire, and the movie ends with the hunters sitting around the lodge eating deer sausage with Bambi mounted on the wall.
Sean Beckwith would like to wish a happy birthday to his girlfriend, Caitlin. Email him at email@example.com.
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