Disney’s Snow White story criticized for showing lack of affirmative consent

Kristen Bell is a well known American actress, and has two daughters. When she reads stories to them, she uses them to impart lessons. One of the stories is “Snow White” (it’s not an original Disney story, of course, but is derived from the Brothers Grimm collection of 1812. Parents magazine describes the lesson (click on screenshot):

The excerpt:

Kristen Bell reads every night to daughters Lincoln, 5, and Delta, 3. “It’s truly my favorite part of the day,” Bell says. “I glance away from the book and see their brains working while we’re all cuddled up like meerkats.”

But the ladies don’t just read, they discuss—especially classic Disney storylines.

“Every time we close Snow White I look at my girls and ask, ‘Don’t you think it’s weird that Snow White didn’t ask the old witch why she needed to eat the apple? Or where she got that apple?’ I say, ‘I would never take food from a stranger, would you?’ And my kids are like, ‘No!’ And I’m like, ‘Okay, I’m doing something right.'”

The apple question is not the only one that Bell—a Disney Princess herself as the voice of Anna in Frozen—has after reading the tale. “Don’t you think that it’s weird that the prince kisses Snow White without her permission?” Bell says she has asked her daughters. “Because you can not kiss someone if they’re sleeping!”

Well, there may be a point about taking food from strangers, but may I point out that Halloween is coming, and taking and eating food from strangers is one of its major features?

As for “kissing Snow White without her permission”, well, that’s bogus. Of course you shouldn’t have sex with someone without asking, or while they’re drunk or asleep, but this isn’t quite the same thing. In fact, in the Brothers Grimm version, there isn’t a kiss; the movement of her glass coffin dislodges the poison apple bite from her throat and she revives. In the Disney movie version, however, there is a kiss, to wit (my emphasis):

Snow White takes the apple and, before taking a bite, wishes for the Prince to carry her away to his castle, where they will live happily ever after. The Queen then persuades her to take a bite before the wish grows cold. Snow White does so and soon falls to the floor after feeling the poison’s effects, which causes her to fall into a Sleeping Death. As the Queen is leaving, she is seen by the dwarfs, who chase her to a cliff, where she falls to her death to be eaten by vultures. The dwarfs find Snow White and they grieve her “death” as they return home. In mourning, they hold a funeral for her at their cottage. Finding her so beautiful, even in death, they cannot find it in their hearts to bury her and instead place her in a handmade coffin carved of glass and gold.

As the time goes by, the Prince hears of this and rides to the clearing where her coffin has been placed. The dwarfs make way for the Prince to approach Snow White. He then gives the princess a kiss, a “Love’s First Kiss”, which breaks the curse, reviving Snow White. She wakes up and, upon seeing the Prince, extends her arms out to him as he scoops her up in her arms. The dwarfs rejoice, as the Prince carries Snow White to his horse. She kisses each dwarf goodbye before leaving with the Prince for his castle (the outline of which is shown in the clouds above), where they live happily ever after.

The kiss was in fact the only way in this story to wake up Snow White. I suppose that they could have done it the Brothers Grimm way, but sue me if I feel this way is more romantic. And who among us hasn’t kissed a lover while he or she was sleeping?

I feel sorry for Kristen Bell’s daughters, who are poised to grow up as scolding Pecksniffs like their mom.

And yes, I know this isn’t as important as nuclear weapons, Saudi Arabia, and Trump. But it’s a sign of the times.

Remember this? Well, remember it well, because it may not be around much longer:


  1. GBJames
    Posted October 23, 2018 at 8:33 am | Permalink


    I take food from strangers pretty much every time I go to the grocery store or eat at a restaurant.

  2. Mark Perew
    Posted October 23, 2018 at 8:38 am | Permalink

    Are kissing a sleeping stranger and kissing a sleeping lover truly the same thing?

    • JD Anderson
      Posted October 23, 2018 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

      Firstly, Snow White and the prince weren’t strangers in the animated version:

      “Outside, as Snow White works, she then tells a group of doves a secret about the well she is drawing water from and tells them it’s a wishing well and then sings “I’m Wishing”, attracting the attention of the Prince, who is passing by. As she sings into the well, performing a duet with her echo, she is startled as the Prince suddenly joins in. She runs indoors, and watches from a balcony as he sings “One Song”. The two are immediately infatuated with each other. Watching from above is the Queen, who angrily closes the curtains of her window in jealousy.”

      Secondly, he thought she was dead, not sleeping. Kissing a dead person who you’ve recently become infatuated with is much more similar to kissing a lover than a random stranger, but even then, it was a goodbye kiss, not a sexual one.

      There was no sexual impropriety, and dead people probably aren’t too fussed in general about a light goodbye kiss given in grief. Or about anything else, for that matter.

  3. Ken Kukec
    Posted October 23, 2018 at 8:38 am | Permalink

    “Don’t you think that it’s weird that the prince kisses Snow White without her permission?”

    Wonder if Sarah Marshall would require affirmative consent before administration of the Heimlich maneuver?

    • Mark R.
      Posted October 23, 2018 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

      Or CPR for that matter!

      • Michael Waterhouse
        Posted October 24, 2018 at 4:22 am | Permalink

        Yes, it is already a problem

  4. Diana MacPherson
    Posted October 23, 2018 at 8:44 am | Permalink

    I took this as just an opportunity for Kristen Bell to talk to her daughters about consent not so much as her disapproving of the story.

    • Blue
      Posted October 23, 2018 at 9:11 am | Permalink

      I concur, Ms MacPherson.

      I touch no one. Not within my own household.
      And most especially not within the workplace
      nor out in other places of society.

      When one in her past has been touched in ways
      not only inappropriate but threatening and
      dangerous and injurious, then one wholly
      comes to appreciate … … .no. touching.


    • Posted October 23, 2018 at 9:12 am | Permalink

      I agree, Diana. We took the Kavanaugh hearings as a teaching moment for our son. We take current events turn them into teaching moments even if they are loosely tied to the event. It’s a way of beginning a discussion without having it start out as a lecture – which usually doesn’t fly as well.

    • eric
      Posted October 23, 2018 at 9:31 am | Permalink

      I hope so.

      Disney certainly has gotten better over time at making their princess protagonists rather than foils/passive prizes to be won by the protagonist. Most past stories, not just Disney ones, have outmoded values though; we still watch/read/study them for their value (as entertainment if nothing else), and if they teach our kids a bit about how people used to think, well that’s a good lesson too.

      • darrelle
        Posted October 23, 2018 at 10:16 am | Permalink

        I agree with every point you made.

        When my kids were about 5 or so I happened to come across a very nice leather bound addition of Grimms’ Fairy Tales on a bargain table somewhere and happily picked it up thinking it would be fun to read to them. Mind you, this was the original stories not more modern re-tellings. The first evening we sat down together, it turned out I couldn’t hardly get started on any of the stories before stumbling to a stop. Turns out my vague memories of them more resembled the Disney-fied re-tellings of some of them than the original stories. I’d pick one and start reading only to come to a stop, pick another, start reading, come to a stop. I finally put the book back on the shelf and left it there. Now that they are a little older they can read it themselves if they are interested, but I sure as heck didn’t want to read those stores to them at 5 years old. The values of the time the stories were written are positively barbaric by comparison to ours today, especially with respect to children. I used the opportunity to try explaining that to them, but at 5 years old who knows what they made of it?

        • eric
          Posted October 23, 2018 at 10:49 am | Permalink

          Original Grimms: how dour angry violent Germans scared the crap out of their kids in order to get them to behave. 🙂

          • darrelle
            Posted October 23, 2018 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

            lol! Best description of them I’ve heard.

          • Steve Pollard
            Posted October 23, 2018 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

            The Grimms published what they collected, from both oral and written sources. Yes, a lot of the stories were pretty Grim(m); indeed, I understand that the brothers even toned down some of the more gruesome ones.

            But were the Germans uniquely nasty to their kids? Grisly folk tales are found in most cultures, and don’t necessarily fall into the category of children’s stories.

            • Diana MacPherson
              Posted October 23, 2018 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

              What we see as children’s stories now were once stories meant for adults so they were pretty violent and very much reflective of their times.

            • Michael Fisher
              Posted October 23, 2018 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

              e.g. Russian folk tales are bowel churningly worse than the refined Grimm Bros. Like a chemical dream with wood houses on chicken legs just to set the atmosphere…

            • Diana MacPherson
              Posted October 23, 2018 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

              Here is a link to an article talking about the pre-Grimm stories. Sleeping Beauty is especially disturbing.

              • Diane G
                Posted October 23, 2018 at 11:48 pm | Permalink


            • eric
              Posted October 23, 2018 at 7:29 pm | Permalink

              I don’t really think Germans of the time were particularly more violent or gruesome than other people of the time. Just making a stereotype joke.

        • CFM
          Posted October 23, 2018 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

          I do read these stories to me 5 year old daughter and she loves them. She usually tells me quite openly when stories or films frighten her, in that case we do of course stop reading or watching. Fairy tales are not among them.

          We do discuss stuff that bothers her (and me) and we talk about changing moral values and political systems (in a way she can understand). I do not press these issues, she wants to talk about them. Pressing them, like Kristen Bell seems to do, is, in my opinion and experience, not helpful. Stories are stories, they should primarily engage a childs fantasy. It was my daughter all be herself who told me that Snowwhite must be a little dumb… And I myself always saw through stories with a way to obvious “morality” and hated them…

          Funnily enough, hacked out eyes (Cinderella) or death by dancing in very hot shoes (Snowwhite) are absolutely OK for her – in her opinion the baddies get what they deserve. What bothers her is fathers hitting their sons so hard they flee (Tischlein Deck Dich) or mothers leading their children into the forest (Hänsel und Gretel) – parent/child relationships are much closer to her everyday experience.

          Talking about consent is important, but in my experience there are much better ways to start such a discussion: E.g. when my daughters bodily autonomy is concerned. Only if we as parents respect it and do ask her to respect ours in return (in good measure of course) will she learn that it is her choice.

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted October 23, 2018 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

            What about that damn goose that threw a guy down the stairs for not saying his prayers?!

            • Merilee
              Posted October 23, 2018 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

              Missed that one!

            • GBJames
              Posted October 23, 2018 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

              A duck would never do such a thing!

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted October 23, 2018 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

                As my friend says, “geese are assholes”. This seems to play out with Goosey Goosey Gander.

    • Christopher
      Posted October 23, 2018 at 10:23 am | Permalink

      No, sadly this does not seem to be the case, and she’s not the only Hollywood regressive to say this. Kiera Knightly won’t let her kids watch Disney movies unless they meet her regressive standards. Little Mermaid is verboten as well, but according to her Moana and Frozen are ok. There’s a lot of anti-princess attitude these days, Princess Leia included. The regressives are about as unhinged as the lady in the Monster drink video in an earlier post, seeing evil in everything. What a sad and scary world they must inhabit.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted October 23, 2018 at 10:25 am | Permalink

        But did you get that from this particular case? I didn’t see any evidence that Bell was banning her children from reading those stories and in fact she seemed to be engaging them in discussing the stories.

        • Taz
          Posted October 23, 2018 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

          I agree. I think the writer of the “Parents.com” article took a lot liberties with the headline.

      • Saul Sorrell-Till
        Posted October 23, 2018 at 11:14 am | Permalink

        D’you want to outline what it is about Kristen Bell telling her young daughters that it’s not okay for men to walk up to unconscious strangers and kiss them that is “unhinged”?

        This is what happens when left-wing snowflakery is matched and exceeded by its conservative equivalent. Any kind of discussion about the ethical values of centuries old fairy tales is characterised as a kind of insanity. A parent merely talking to her children about consent is apparently unhinged.

        This is nothing more than far-left hysteria unthinkingly mirrored by its opponents.

      • Diane G
        Posted October 23, 2018 at 11:51 pm | Permalink

        I’ve always had an anti-princess attitude, but for different reasons.

        • Merilee
          Posted October 23, 2018 at 11:56 pm | Permalink

          Do tell, D👸

  5. Posted October 23, 2018 at 8:55 am | Permalink

    That is nothing – TV ‘historian’ Dan Snow lied to his daughters saying that women flew combat missions in spitfires in WW2!

  6. Michael Fisher
    Posted October 23, 2018 at 9:01 am | Permalink

    Isn’t it a parent’s duty to slightly unnerve their kiddos with the bedtime reading? Boo! The professional English woman [she overcooks it big time] Keira Knightley, has banned her daughter from watching the Little Mermaid & Cinderalla films – because female agency:

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted October 23, 2018 at 9:27 am | Permalink

      “The professional English woman … Keira Knightley”

      Yeah, she’s played more than her share of veddy, veddy British roles. 🙂 But she shed that image for me back in the title role of Tony Scott’s Domino.

      • Michael Fisher
        Posted October 23, 2018 at 9:37 am | Permalink

        Still sounds Brit cut glass in that – though with machine gun accessories
        That has all the ingredients to be a crap film judging from the 2005 trailer

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted October 23, 2018 at 9:46 am | Permalink

          Well, it’s Tony Scott, so the editing is cut, cut, cut every coupla seconds. But as a cult-film fan, I have a certain nostalgie de la boue fondness for it. 🙂

          • Vaal
            Posted October 24, 2018 at 8:55 am | Permalink

            That’s one reason I’ve always despised Tony Scott’s work. That and the fact it’s usually shot like a lifestyle beer commercial – all style, no substance.

            • Ken Kukec
              Posted October 24, 2018 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

              Except for True Romance. That one, I dig the most.

              But I think most of the credit there goes to the script by Tarantino.

    • mikeyc
      Posted October 23, 2018 at 10:06 am | Permalink

      Unnerve them? Knightley’s little darlings had nothing on my brothers and me. One of the stories my old Irish grand dad (he was given a choice after the Easter Rebellion – prison or emigration; I am here as a result of his choice) would tell us as we hid beneath our covers at bedtime was about Jenny Greenteeth. She was an old hag with green teeth and weeds for hair. She lived at the bottom of streams and creeks and would pull children in to drown if they got too close to the shore.

      I remember being terrified of rivers as a child and never got too close. I guess the story worked.

      • Michael Fisher
        Posted October 23, 2018 at 10:11 am | Permalink

        That’s exactly the kind of thing I mean – “unnerve” is underplaying. My ma would tell me to stop picking my scabby knees or I’d get cancer – educating kids the Irish way.

        • mikeyc
          Posted October 23, 2018 at 10:49 am | Permalink

          Granpa had the “gift o’gab” and told us all sorts of stories, partly to entertain, partly to instruct, but all of them were flights of fancy. I think I remember when I finally cottoned on to him and realized he was “giving us the Irish” – one night, after hearing a scream outside he told us about Banshees and said that the scream we heard was his (a harbinger of death). My brothers and I looked at each other and said (something like); “That’s just a fox, granpa.” Still, shortly after that he died. Kinda creeped me out then, I tell you what, but it WAS a fox – I now know it was a vixen announcing she was ready.

          • Michael Fisher
            Posted October 23, 2018 at 11:09 am | Permalink

            I love those troublemakers & liars

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted October 23, 2018 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

          Keep is up, Michael, I’ll have to start reading your comments in the voice of Frank McCourt. 🙂

    • Posted October 23, 2018 at 10:52 am | Permalink

      Knightley isnt exactly from the British upper class. She went to Teddington school. But the accent is a real one.

      • Michael Fisher
        Posted October 23, 2018 at 11:09 am | Permalink

        Yes, it’s her real, growing-up-in-Richmond & mixing with luvvies accent. Voice projection, ‘breath from down there dear’ & careful enunciation is what she does all the time as tools of her trade & the overcooked [IMO] Englishness is charming for the Americans no doubt. I’ve known luvvies & there’s a breed of luvvie who are never, ever off stage – unbearable to be near them when they roam as a group – grazing in cafes & bars near me.

        “Daphne, yoohoo! Over here dear – DO try these darling little sandwiches”

        I’m just a grump 🙂

        • darrelle
          Posted October 23, 2018 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

          Which brings me to . . ., cucumber sandwiches. Are they as traditional as myth would have it?

          • Posted October 23, 2018 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

            When I was young in England, cucumber sandwiches were quite prevalent. I spurned them, along with watercress sandwiches, as any self-respecting child would and should.

            • darrelle
              Posted October 23, 2018 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

              I kind of like watercress. But a watercress sandwich? I think I agree with your child-self!

              • GBJames
                Posted October 23, 2018 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

                Watercress sandwiches are actually pretty good.

              • darrelle
                Posted October 23, 2018 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

                What goes into a genuine watercress sandwich?

              • darrelle
                Posted October 23, 2018 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

                Hmmm. Google returned recipes all pretty much the same. Thin cut white bread with either mayo or butter spread on it, watercress, salt, top piece of bread also with mayo or butter, cut off the crusts.

                Thinking about it, that doesn’t sound bad. Would depend entirely on the bread and butter or mayo. Decent bread with good butter or mayo is good all by itself.

              • GBJames
                Posted October 23, 2018 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

                There’s a close affinity to another old favorite from my youth, the radish sandwich. Bread, butter, sliced radishes, and a sprinkle of salt.

              • David McCrindle
                Posted October 23, 2018 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

                Probably better than the sugar sandwiches we used to eat as kids

            • Posted October 23, 2018 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

              …And adult. Cucumber sandwiches are the work of the devil

              • Merilee
                Posted October 23, 2018 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

                Crusts are the best part of the bread❗️

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted October 23, 2018 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

                Yuck. Bread isn’t one of my favourite foods but white bread crusts make me gag.

              • Michael Fisher
                Posted October 23, 2018 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

                Yes. Crustless bread is the main cause for the collapse of the British Empire.

          • Michael Fisher
            Posted October 23, 2018 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

            Cucumber sandwiches: One hundred years ago or so they were indeed traditional among the English middle class for afternoon tea & involved quite a bit of presentation [no crusts, thinnest of thin bread & cut into ‘fingers’ or tiny squares/triangles]. The point is to have a cold spread for visitors that can be consumed elegantly with minimal use of cutlery. Fresh ingredients were limited in an English climate & for some reason a bland diet was classy [that’s my impression only – not backed up with research] clean, white food with a touch of mustard for a counterpoint. All to be had with the tea ritual & a selection of cakes.

            HERE IS THE MENU [pdf] for afternoon tea at the Ritz in London:
            Ham with Grain Mustard Mayonnaise on Brioche Bread
            Cheddar Cheese with Chutney on Tomato Bread
            Cucumber with Cream Cheese, Dill and Chives on Granary Bread
            Roast Beef with Horseradish on Malt Bread
            Scottish Smoked Salmon with Lemon Butter on Sourdough Bread
            Egg Mayonnaise with Chopped Shallots and Watercress on Brioche Roll

            Freshly Baked Raisin and Plain Scones
            with Cornish Clotted Cream and Strawberry Preserve
            Assortment of Seasonal Afternoon Tea Pastries and Cakes

            I preferred The Connaught [I think it was, but years ago] on Sunday morning – bring a thick newspaper & buy cake & coffee just once. Coffee continuously refilled for free all morning.

            • darrelle
              Posted October 23, 2018 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

              Thanks Michael. I wouldn’t mind having a go at some of the items on that menu.

              I have an Irish friend who lives on tea. If you arrive unexpectedly at his house, he invites you in for tea. 2 AM after a concert (he’s lead singer in a band), he invites you over for tea. When he’s on expedition in the arctic (he’s also a biologist and studies whales) and every pound of gear is life or death, he has his tea regularly. Though I’ve traveled in England a few times my Irish friend is my first real experience with a serious tea drinker.

              • Michael Fisher
                Posted October 23, 2018 at 7:14 pm | Permalink

                A “char & a wad” was maybe the wartime national dish. Char = tea & tea leaves, from the Hindi or Urdu & Wad = a sarnie of bread & jam [artificial jam of course]

                The char was as thick & brewed as possible with tons of sugar & mountains of powdered milk. Lots of ‘bad calories’ as they’re called today that could sustain for a few hours. If tea leaves were scarce they were dried in the sun & reused.

                Brew-up! Brew-up!
                Stop and dig some sand.
                Fill up half a petrol tin
                And sprinkle in some spirit
                From your can.
                Take another petrol tin,
                Tip some water in it,
                Strike a match and light your fire
                And in another minute
                You can make a cup of tea
                For all your crew to drink.

                Thus did half-a-million men
                Make their daily brew,
                From Daba back to Alamein,
                From Fuka to Matruh,
                In the good old days,
                In the good old ways
                All we Desert Rats knew.

                ‘Brew-up’, CPS Denholm Young,

            • Merilee
              Posted October 23, 2018 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

              “Yes. Crustless bread is the main cause for the collapse of the British Empire.”
              Makes sense to me. Nothing like a good
              crusty preferably sourdough baguette fresh out of the oven, with butter.

              • Posted October 23, 2018 at 11:38 pm | Permalink

                Just so you know, the Japanese cut off their crusts too. I like their sandwiches though.

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted October 23, 2018 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

          A lot of us Yanks are suckers for a posh BBC-style accent, Michael.

          Me, they always have from the first “not at all” — the nasal fricative “n” ramping up into the three short, rounded vowels, separated by the two percussive “t”s, each pronounced as crisply and distinctly as though struck by a symphony timpanist.

          The way we Yanks mumble the phrase out and run the words together, it sounds like the name of some over-the-counter sleep aid — “Noddedal.” 🙂

          • Michael Fisher
            Posted October 23, 2018 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

            Remake On The Waterfront or GoodFellas with Celia Johnson & Trevor Howard accents. AND rock’n’roll is better in American, as the French continue to not acknowledge.

            • Merilee
              Posted October 23, 2018 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

              The French can NOT do rock and roll. Neither can the Italians. But I do love whatever it is Jacques Brel does (did). Yes, I do know he’s Belgian😻

              • Michael Fisher
                Posted October 23, 2018 at 2:46 pm | Permalink


              • Saul Sorrell-Till
                Posted October 24, 2018 at 8:07 am | Permalink

                The Germans can do rock and roll, but only of the Can/Kraftwerk/Neu! variant. The French can do lounge rock like Air but that’s about it. Tbh the best at rock and roll in Europe* are the Scandinavians – they’re very good at psych-rock and alt-folky stuff.

                *apart from us Brits of course.

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted October 24, 2018 at 8:46 am | Permalink

                Kraftwerk is krautrock and electronic.

              • Merilee
                Posted October 24, 2018 at 9:56 am | Permalink

                As long as you take ABBA out of the mix. Yeah, you Brits definitely can do great rock and blues.

        • Posted October 23, 2018 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

          She had an agent at age 6 (I read) and was fgrom thespian parents. Richmond and Kingston have a lot of luvvies (I used to teach there). They arent necessarily particularly well-off…but very well enunciated

    • CFM
      Posted October 23, 2018 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

      Oh my… Have a little trust in the little ones, Keira. My daughters play timid princesses mainly concerned about their looks and a good looking prince one moment, angry superheroines kicking ass the next one. They are great in both roles. Whatever happened to “teaching them how to think, not what to think”?

  7. Posted October 23, 2018 at 9:06 am | Permalink

    I would never even touch someone, let alone salivate on them, without consent. On a form. In triplicate. Notarized and witnessed. Filed with the County. Published in the locals.

  8. Saul Sorrell-Till
    Posted October 23, 2018 at 9:09 am | Permalink

    Not for the first time I find myself wondering what exactly is so pernicious about this.

    Isn’t this how cultural/societal values progress? Things that we considered perfectly normal and okay fifty or a hundred years ago are examined in the light of modern norms, and often they can be pretty dodgy.

    ” And who among us hasn’t kissed a lover while he or she was sleeping?”

    Perhaps I’m wrong, as I haven’t seen the film before, but sleeping beauty wasn’t a lover. She was a complete stranger to the prince.

    So: a man walks up to an unconscious woman who he’s never met before, and kisses her. She wakes up, is instantly overjoyed and falls in love with him. Now is it really that strange that a parent would, at the very least, want to talk to her children about whether that was an okay thing to do?

    • dani
      Posted October 23, 2018 at 9:35 am | Permalink

      You are wrong. They did meet, danced and sang a love song together. They are already in love before the kiss. (Disney version)

      I’m a woman, I grew up watching all princess stories and I don’t see any problem with them. They are about love ♥



    • mikeyc
      Posted October 23, 2018 at 9:49 am | Permalink

      You’re right this is (kind of) how values change but, as dani says, you’re wrong about their “relationship”.

      Anyway, it’s a make believe kiss in a cartoon fairytale. Even very young children understand this, even if they can get into the story in ways we adults no longer can.

      • Saul Sorrell-Till
        Posted October 23, 2018 at 10:02 am | Permalink

        Ah, okay. I’ve only read the Grimm version, in which they’ve never met before.

        • mikeyc
          Posted October 23, 2018 at 10:12 am | Permalink

          Many of the original Grimm fairy tales (I understand that they collected them – they didn’t write them) are violent and dark and very different to the ones we were told as children.

          Again – it’s as you say – values change. The fairy tales people told in the 18th and early 19th century -when the bros collected the stories- were not appropriate to mid-20th century America, so we got different (bowdlerized?) versions.. Now we find mid-twentieth century values don’t fit exactly in today’s world. C’est la vie.

          • Saul Sorrell-Till
            Posted October 23, 2018 at 10:31 am | Permalink

            Yes, that was my point. We evolve, and ethics evolve. We take the issue of consent more seriously than we used to, especially if we’re parents and we have very young daughters who’re in their jabbering-knowledge-sponge phase. So I’m struggling to see where precisely the issue lies with what Bell said/did.

      • Saul Sorrell-Till
        Posted October 23, 2018 at 10:24 am | Permalink

        Actually, now I’ve looked again at the article, Bell is referring to a book that she reads her child. She’s not talking about the Disney cartoon. Since the original story involves a prince randomly stumbling upon an unconscious Snow White in the forest and kissing her it’s plausible that that was the version Bell was discussing.

        Either way, my original question was why it’s considered noteworthy that a parent would talk to her daughters about consent in the context of the story of Snow White? There was no call for censorship from Bell, she wasn’t rude or prescriptive to the rest of society. It strikes me as perfectly reasonable parenting, especially given the questionable nature of the original story.

        • Posted October 23, 2018 at 10:34 am | Permalink

          Dani is wrong. She is thinking of Sleeping Beauty. In Snow White the prince has not met her.

          • mikeyc
            Posted October 23, 2018 at 10:41 am | Permalink

            Oh yes! You’re right.

          • Saul Sorrell-Till
            Posted October 23, 2018 at 10:50 am | Permalink

            Cheers Beef. That was my initial thought, but I think I got derailed by the Sleeping Beauty/Snow White confusion.

            It makes me even more baffled as to why this story is considered noteworthy in the first place. I’d certainly want to tell my daughter that it’s not okay for guys to walk up to unconscious strangers and kiss them.

          • dani
            Posted October 23, 2018 at 10:59 am | Permalink

            they also meet before in snow white! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Cfge09RERE

            • Saul Sorrell-Till
              Posted October 23, 2018 at 11:01 am | Permalink

              In the cartoon. But Bell was reading her children a book.

    • eric
      Posted October 23, 2018 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

      Within the context of the story, it seems okay to me. We think of it as wrong because in the real world, kisses don’t cure comas. But in a world where they do, I’d argue that kissing an unconscious person is more analogous to mouth-to-mouth than it is sexual harassment.

      If, in the future, physics turns out to have it wrong and the only way to cure cancer is to have some person from a hereditary monarchy grope someone’s genitals while they’re sleeping, then when I get cancer…grope away. Who wouldn’t want that?

      • Posted October 23, 2018 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

        I’d like to see that last idea expanded into a feature length comedy!

      • Saul Sorrell-Till
        Posted October 24, 2018 at 8:16 am | Permalink

        “Within the context of the story, it seems okay to me. We think of it as wrong because in the real world, kisses don’t cure comas. But in a world where they do, I’d argue that kissing an unconscious person is more analogous to mouth-to-mouth than it is sexual harassment.”

        Well, yes, you’d argue that, but you’re an intelligent adult not a little girl. What exactly is objectionable about Bell talking to her kids about this?

        And I think you;d at least concede that whether it’s okay to walk up to an unconscious stranger and kiss them is open to question, right? If I had children I’d want to tell them that that isn’t cool in the real world. I wouldn’t assume that they’re capable of immediately parsing and then contextualising the situation with the skill of a grown up.

        • Posted October 24, 2018 at 10:40 am | Permalink

          I agree. It is also an opportunity to get the kids to tell what they really think, what questions they have. This gives the parents a chance to nudge them in the right direction. If, for example, your 5-year old says about kissing a sleeping prince/princess, “You mean like Bobby/Brenda at school?”, you have the start of an important conversation.

  9. Ken Kukec
    Posted October 23, 2018 at 9:16 am | Permalink

    Of course you shouldn’t have sex with someone without asking, or while they’re drunk or asleep …

    I dunno, looking back at the long-term relationships I’ve been in, there’s always been an understanding (a tacit understanding, in that I don’t recall ever discussing explicitly) that one partner could rouse the other (or try to) by commencing an un interlude romantique. You ask me, it’s far and away the most pleasant way to be awoken.

    Of course, there was also a corollary understanding (again, implicit) that the other partner had the right of refusal. I don’t recall that latter ever happening (which, were I the refuser, I probably would since it would’ve been out of character). If, on the other hand, the woman said “not tonight, baby” I might not remember since it would’ve been no big deal. Not like I was gonna pout about it or insist; I’d just roll over and grab another 40 winks.

    It’s not a move to be made, however, unless one knows one’s partner well.

  10. Posted October 23, 2018 at 9:18 am | Permalink

    I think I side with Bell on this one… she is still reading the story to her kids, after all, no? It’s not like she’s censoring the story itself, or even parts of it. She’s just reflecting on it after the fact. I’m almost through Philip Pullman’s excellent treatment of Grimm, and if I ever get around to reading those stories with my kids (they’re still quite young) there will be a TON of weird and fun stuff to talk about. Not in the PC way, but just in the “wait, why would someone do that?” way. In fact, half the fun of reading Pullman’s version is that he rips apart certain stories that he doesn’t like (not under the guise of cultural progressivism, but just when the stories in and of themselves are bad *as stories*).

    Even the Keira Knightley thing I can let slide… there are all sorts of ways that parents consciously and subsconsciously steer their kids towards or away from different pieces of entertainment. There are hundreds upon hundreds to choose from, so if there were a few shows or movies that I thought were annoying personally, I’d have no guilt about trying to get my kids to watch something else instead.

    I think the whole point of culturally shared stories is to revise them over time. Disney’s version of Snow White is just one remix among many. (Don’t get me started on the Disney copyrights… arrrrgh.)

  11. Posted October 23, 2018 at 9:29 am | Permalink

    Also, how great is the show The Good Place? 😀

    • Saul Sorrell-Till
      Posted October 23, 2018 at 10:37 am | Permalink

      I watched a few episodes of the first series and the chirpiness began to grate on me a bit. It was funny and likeable but I tend to gravitate towards sitcoms that are cynical and without a shred of humanity or hope.

      OTOH it’s gotten such great reviews, and there were enough funny moments in what I saw that I’m thinking of revisiting it. I liked that they’re prepared to add some pretty seismic twists into the plot – that’s rare in sitcoms.

      • Posted October 23, 2018 at 10:45 am | Permalink

        That’s fair. I think I’m currently on the other end at this point in my life–I find it hard to really devote time to series that are complete downers. Just don’t have the emotional energy for that. So a comedy is refreshing… but I still need it to have some weight, so this show fits the bill for me perfectly. The little bullet points about ethics throughout are fantastic. And I find myself genuinely laughing out loud along the way.

        You may have read about some of the big twists, but even if so, it wouldn’t spoil the series for you. Somehow they are still managing to find new angles on the original premise without losing the quality. It’s quite impressive.

        • Saul Sorrell-Till
          Posted October 23, 2018 at 10:57 am | Permalink

          Actually, I’m closer to your attitude at this moment in time, for various reasons. Usually my tastes are quite cynical, but right now I honestly can’t deal with anything depressing or nihilistic or pessimistic. That’s why I’m thinking of going back to The Good Place.

          If something like Peep Show comes on I just don’t want to watch it. There’s enough anxiety and embarrassment in day to day life as it is.

      • Posted October 23, 2018 at 10:47 am | Permalink

        Stick with it. No spoilers, but I predict that the “chirpiness” will take on an altogtehr different aspect if you do…

        • Saul Sorrell-Till
          Posted October 23, 2018 at 11:19 am | Permalink

          I think I know what you’re hinting at…I read a review which gave the game away re. a pretty big twist.

          But then there’s the spoiler paradox isn’t there? So I don’t think it’ll harm my enjoyment when I watch it. It’s odd that we spend so much time trying to avoid spoilers given that they apparently make things more enjoyable.

          • Posted October 23, 2018 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

            Maybe there a version of Hofstader’s plaw–“Things always take longer than you think they will…even when you account for Hifstadter’s Law”?
            I thought it was a really inventive show (for a sitcom–its not great art).
            I guessed the maguffin a bit before the reveal…but I still really enjoyed it. And I’d watch it again (to see the prefigurings if nothing else). And there is a second series–where the twist isnt the issue. Still remains to be seen if that workds

          • Diane G
            Posted October 24, 2018 at 12:07 am | Permalink

            “But then there’s the spoiler paradox isn’t there? So I don’t think it’ll harm my enjoyment when I watch it. It’s odd that we spend so much time trying to avoid spoilers given that they apparently make things more enjoyable.”

            First I’ve heard of that–interesting. Having trouble accepting it at first glance.

            • Saul Sorrell-Till
              Posted October 24, 2018 at 8:33 am | Permalink

              Yes, I’m not sure I believe it entirely either – I haven’t really investigated it that thoroughly. On the other hand I’ve watched plenty of films where I knew what was coming and really enjoyed them; especially I enjoyed the sense of anticipation that comes from knowing that a twist is around the corner, and that I know something the characters don’t.

              It always struck me as strange that detective shows where they showed the identity of the killer right at the start, and then you watched the detective gradually hone in on him or her, were just as exciting and enjoyable and suspenseful as the shows where you’ve no idea whodunnit. Wasn’t Columbo like that? In a sense that’s a bit like giving the audience a spoiler in advance. Maybe the enjoyment comes from the dramatic irony of it: that the audience knows something that the characters in the show/film don’t.

  12. Posted October 23, 2018 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    Oh FFS she’s not advocating censoring the story, she’s talking about adding context when reading it to her kids.

  13. eric
    Posted October 23, 2018 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    Disney princesses aren’t the oppressed, they’re the oppressors! Supporting inherited monarchy as a form of government. Kissing frogs without the frogs’ consent. Banishing withes and evil queens without a fair trial. Where was Cruella DeVille’s ‘innocent until proven guilty’ moment, huh?


    • Ken Kukec
      Posted October 23, 2018 at 9:50 am | Permalink

      Right on. Cruella’s entitled to at least as much presumption of innocence as Bart O’Kavanaugh and Mohammad Bin Bonesaw.

    • Posted October 23, 2018 at 10:49 am | Permalink

      Exactly–who asked that frog if he wanted to be assualted in that way? And its applaling how those persons of restricted growth are exploited and mocked–charcaters reduced to a single aspect like “Sneezy” (mocking his allergies) or “Grumpy” (victim-blaming).

  14. mikeyc
    Posted October 23, 2018 at 9:54 am | Permalink

    I kissed my father good bye just before they disconnected his life support. He couldn’t give me consent. I guess, in some people’s version of the world, that makes me an incestuous sexual predator.

    • Frank Bath
      Posted October 23, 2018 at 10:13 am | Permalink

      Worse I kissed my father after he had died. And my mother.

  15. Michael Fisher
    Posted October 23, 2018 at 10:18 am | Permalink

    SOURCE :-

    “In the 1812 edition of the story, the prince manages to get the coffin home without dropping it. He makes his servants carry it with him from room to room, so that he might gaze on his beloved. One of the servants eventually gets fed up having to lug this enormous glass box around, so he opens it and smacks the comatose girl. At which point, the chunk of apple flies from her throat, and she wakes up. Which is even more hilarious than dropping her.

    Of all the editions, I’d have to say that 1812 is my favorite; that’s the one I’d share with kids. But better than sharing just one edition, I think, is sharing them all. For when we know the many layers of a story, our reading becomes as rich as its history.”

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted October 23, 2018 at 10:24 am | Permalink

      I like the idea of a disgruntled workforce. That would be a great discussion. Also of monarchy and servitude.

      • Michael Fisher
        Posted October 23, 2018 at 10:47 am | Permalink

        I was not read to as a kid & no TV in the home until I was around nine. No kiddies books. I asked for a book on the sea for my birthday when I was eight or nine & learned to read it from clues in the pictures & pestering adults. Discovered ‘fairy tales’ at around ten & I used to get an armful from the library & read them [embarrassing for a lad of that age!]. I caught up at light speed under my own power, but I do wonder how it would have gone if I’d lived in an environment where adults engaged children rather than devising ways to shut them up.

        • Posted October 23, 2018 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

          Hey, congrats to you for doing it on your own! For real, that must have been quite a tough situation. I applaud your drive, looks like you ended up in a good spot.

          • Michael Fisher
            Posted October 23, 2018 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

            Levi thanks, my self learning was driven by quite a lot of fear. Co-ed UK RCC infant/junior school with caning – the thick lads went to the all-boys secondary school next door at age 11 to be trained as factory fodder lathe operators, road repairers etc. The really bright failures went on to engineering apprenticeships with the GPO, Lucas, RR, ICI, IMI, the jewellery sector, gun making etc. Birmingham in the 60s was grim [it birthed Black Sabbath – the sound of steel presses] & I wanted none of that.

            Strangely enough my late start prepared me for a second bout of climbing out of patchy literacy at age 22 years.

            • Posted October 24, 2018 at 10:02 am | Permalink

              Well you are quite well-spoken now (or at least well-written)!

    • Saul Sorrell-Till
      Posted October 23, 2018 at 10:44 am | Permalink

      At the end of one of the many entertainingly unhinged versions of Rumpelstiltskin that have been passed down over the years, the titular imp explodes, killing everything in a three mile radius.
      In another version he smashes his right foot into the ground with such force that it’s propelled up and bursts through his rib cage. Then he grabs his left foot and tears himself in two.

      Evidently they don’t write ’em like they used to.

      • Michael Fisher
        Posted October 23, 2018 at 10:49 am | Permalink

        My first experience of live drama was Rumpelstiltskin at my junior school – definitely unhinged & scary.

        • Saul Sorrell-Till
          Posted October 23, 2018 at 10:59 am | Permalink

          It would have been cool if you’d exploded at the denouement. There aren’t enough exploding imps in junior school plays, I think we can all agree on that.

          • Michael Fisher
            Posted October 23, 2018 at 11:11 am | Permalink

            Unfortunately I was only watching the mayhem

  16. Posted October 23, 2018 at 10:20 am | Permalink

    I would like to be a fly on the wall the day her two girls, a little older but not too much older, secretly screen “Bad Moms” to see Kristen’s performance, and come to the scene where two of her girl friends use her body and hooded sweatshirt to demonstrate how to handle a penis properly for oral sex.


    Ms. Bell will surely turn it into an affirmative teaching moment.

    • Saul Sorrell-Till
      Posted October 23, 2018 at 11:16 am | Permalink

      Wow. There are a lot of assumptions at work there.

      • Posted October 23, 2018 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

        I hope you are not challenging the idea that her daughters will secretly screen all of Ms. Bell’s films. Or even not secretly. At any rate, the moment they watch that scene will be interesting.

        • Saul Sorrell-Till
          Posted October 24, 2018 at 7:59 am | Permalink

          Um, yes I am. Since it’s an assumption you pulled out of your behind I think it’s fair to challenge it.

          • Posted October 24, 2018 at 10:50 am | Permalink

            In what world do you think children of actors do not screen clips or whole films of their parents’ work?

            Kristen: “You are not allowed to look for my clips on the internet, or watch “Bad Moms.”
            Child: “Ok, Mom, I never will, until you give me permission.”

            Like that?

  17. KD33
    Posted October 23, 2018 at 11:08 am | Permalink

    To whom it may concern: you have my permission to kiss me if it will save my life.

  18. Posted October 23, 2018 at 11:12 am | Permalink

    I think it is fine to teach kids at this age that the rules in fantasy worlds are not the same as in the real world.

  19. Adam M.
    Posted October 23, 2018 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

    Leaving aside the details of Disney movies, what kind of world do they want? One where permission must be asked for every kiss and touch until such time as you can negotiate the terms of a standing agreement?

    That’s both unrealistic – I seriously doubt Bell’s own lovers have asked such permission and furthermore doubt that she’s chastised them for not doing so – and unromantic. Perhaps I’m old and out of touch with today’s dating scene, but I see no evidence that women are actually attracted, physically, to men even remotely like that or that women would respect such men.

  20. Claudia Baker
    Posted October 23, 2018 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

    Ken wins this thread with “Mohammad Bin Bonesaw”. Going to steal it.

    • Posted October 23, 2018 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

      Furthermore, “Mohammad bin X” is a meme template with a lot of miles left.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted October 23, 2018 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

      I too enjoyed “Mohammad bin Bonesaw”.

      • Posted October 23, 2018 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

        I really dont know what your problem is. Look, its perfectly simple..
        Khashoggi wasnt in the consulate at all, but then left early without anyone seeing him. During that time the place was cleared for completely coincidental reasons and fifteen sightseers arrived with the traditional bonesaws that all Saudi tourists carry. Khashoggi–a known terrorist–picked a fight with these rogue elements who naturally enough dismembered him and buried his mutilated corpse in bits in the turkish forest some miles north of Istanbul at which point they all got back in their private jets and flew back to be assassinated/arrested for their behavior.
        Trump believes it–and I really dont know what about this story isnt good enough for the rest of you.

        • Claudia Baker
          Posted October 23, 2018 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

          I heard part of an interview by a Saudi representative last night on Ian Masters’ podcast (can’t remember the Saudi guy’s name). This whole thing is quite regrettable he said, but you know, these things happen. He actually said that: “These things happen”.

          What fucking universe do the Saudis live in that makes that an okay statement to make? I guess it’s the universe of “got on the private jet with my bone saw, you know, like you do”.


          • Posted October 23, 2018 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

            The short answer is that they live in Trump’s universe.

            • infiniteimprobabilit
              Posted October 24, 2018 at 2:24 am | Permalink

              Mr Trump said: “They had a very bad original concept, it was carried out poorly and the cover-up was the worst in the history of cover-ups.”

              He has such a knack for finding just the right words, don’t you think?

              He manages to give the impression that the worst thing about it was that they botched the cover-up? I’m sure he doesn’t mean to imply that the murder would have been okay if they’d just been a bit better at it…


              • Posted October 24, 2018 at 10:27 am | Permalink

                Because it is always all about him, I hear Trump saying that, if he were in a similar situation, he would have done a much better job of covering it up.

      • Merilee
        Posted October 23, 2018 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

        Me three

  21. Gabrielle
    Posted October 23, 2018 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

    I’m fine with the discussion Kristen Bell has had with her children about Snow White and boundaries. Like others have said above, she’s not telling other parents not to read the story.
    For parents who want to limit the exposure to the Disney Princess franchise (yes, this is what it is called in the business community), it’s none too easy. This Atlantic magazine article pretty much sums it up.
    Back 25 years ago, the Disney movie ‘The Hunchback of Notre Dame’ came out, and my 4 year old niece went crazy about Esmeralda. I thought it was a strange movie for kids, since the story is about a young woman who is accused of murder, and who hides out in the cathedral. Disney drew the character as a sultry brunette with blue eyes (even though she’s a gypsy) and revealing clothes.
    BUT – I went all in with the Esmeralda merchandise, as did the rest of the family, because the niece wanted it all so much. Disney had her hooked, and she pulled the rest of the family down with her. It was like an addiction, and we were her enablers. Luckily, she grew out of it.

    • Posted October 23, 2018 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

      We shouldn’t try to protect kids against fantasy. Instead, teach them that fantasy is fun but not the real world. In general, sheltering kids from bad ideas doesn’t work.

      • Gabrielle
        Posted October 23, 2018 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

        Well, here’s a less than positive idea that the niece got from the movie. She once showed me a picture she drew of Esmeralda, who looked to be sitting in a big chair. I asked if Esmeralda was sitting on a throne (because of the Disney Princess complex). The niece answered “No, that’s Esmeralda in a coffin!” I guess Esmeralda was caught, tried, convicted, and executed. Such are fantasies for a four year old.

      • Diane G
        Posted October 24, 2018 at 12:21 am | Permalink

        This is not about protecting kids from fantasy. It’s about not endorsing the relentless marketing of crap toys, not to mention the whole princess franchise.

    • Gabrielle
      Posted October 23, 2018 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

      I still have some of the Esmeralda swag from her Esmeralda-themed 4th birthday party! I can’t bear to throw it away. We all had a good time.
      And just an aside – the niece always pronounced the hunchback’s name ‘Quasimodo’ as ‘Fasimoto’. I couldn’t get her to correct it.
      To be fair, we all did once have a learning moment with the movie. The niece once asked why the main evil character Frodo is so mean. Her mom explained that Frodo had trouble making friends and was lonely, and that’s why he was so mean. My brother her dad said ‘He’s mean because he has a bad haircut.’ Naturally, the latter answer made more sense to the niece, who hence had a nice learning moment about meanness and haircuts.

  22. Merilee
    Posted October 23, 2018 at 2:29 pm | Permalink


  23. Merilee
    Posted October 23, 2018 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

    My two little two years + grand girls love this cute Russian cartoon. One of them seems to only watch the undubbed Russky version. Easy enough to figure out what is going on. I do think my d-i-l encourages a bit too much Disney princess crap,but the little monkey’s a really athletic little outdoors woman so I don’t worry too much.

    Sent from my iPhone

  24. CJ
    Posted October 23, 2018 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

    a little off topic, but…

    “Steven Pinker is a BOSS”
    – Kristen Bell

    …i like her 😉

  25. yazikus
    Posted October 23, 2018 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

    When we read with our kids, or watch movies, or plays, etc, I can think of nothing better than talking to them about what they are taking in.
    Fairy tales are interesting, and I don’t see anything wrong with pointing out things that we as a culture have shifted on.
    I remember reading The Jungle Book to kiddo – I was surprised how many times I had to stop to answer questions about things Kipling wrote.
    That said, we prefer nature documentaries in our house.

  26. Posted October 23, 2018 at 8:07 pm | Permalink

    The book Women Who Run With The Wolves, by Clarissa Pinkola Estes, offers a healthy and powerful perspective on myths and fairy tales:

  27. Posted October 23, 2018 at 10:45 pm | Permalink

    Today’s whataboutery. Didn’t a princess kiss a frog without its permission in another Grimm tale?

    • dallos
      Posted October 24, 2018 at 3:38 am | Permalink

      You can still order frog legs and eat them.

  28. Posted October 24, 2018 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

    Apropos the discussion of fairy tales …

    I have always thought that Beauty and the Beast should have been written so that Beast *is* a beast, at least on the outside.

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