The funny thing about growing up is that parents think they control what kind of media you’re exposed to. They will buy you every Disney movie out there only because someone somewhere said Disney movies are innocent and magical. They are, but only on the surface. Most of these films, while fun and thrilling, are actually deep metaphors for some of life’s biggest contradictions and mysteries. There is something to be said about Disney’s main characters seeking escape from their circumstances. Most stories begin when our protagonist has to leave their home to embark on some adventure of self-discovery and growth. At the end, our hero or heroin always comes back home, where the heart is. We, as humans, love these stories. We will watch the same story over and over as long as they change the world in which it is presented. But have you ever really wondered how it is that these characters resolve their conflicts? How do they learn what they must learn to overcome adversity? The answer: through the help of others. Through the help of cults.
If you think about it, most of our protagonists make friends with a weird group of people whose lifestyles are way different from the acceptable norms of society. They are not perfect, but they deeply care about our heroes and heroines. They are good people. But, like, why are cults so demonized? When I start to think about the lives of these people before the protagonists showed up, I imagine them having the best times ever not having a single care about the problems of all the spoiled princesses and bratty kids of the world. Some people just really love to unload all their personal baggage on other happy people. And when there’s no baggage to carry, they will find something to criticize about those who live happy alternative lifestyles.
My formula for a cult in this article is: one leader + a group of social outcasts. The following is a list of my favorite Disney cults.
7. PETER PAN AND THE LOST BOYS
Here’s the thing. I used to think Peter Pan was really annoying. He didn’t have to school when I did, he could fly and I couldn’t, and no one really told him shit for wearing tights. I had to wear straight-legged jeans most of my young life because skinny jeans for men became socially acceptable only a few years ago. I hate you all. Then I thought maybe one day I’d be old enough to wear whatever I wanted because I thought maybe being old was cool. But did I really want to grow up or did I just want the ‘freedom’ that supposedly came along with it? As I start planning for my 401k, I’ve come to realize that maybe I was just a little jelly that Peter gets to stay young and skinny forever with his band of little rascals while I get to grow up, pay taxes and fight the horizontal expansion of my mid-section. Think about it, all they have to do for a fun Friday evening is find some weed in Never Land (which I’m sure there is plenty of), go hang out with the mermaids and Tiger Lily, and never grow up. Is that the life?
6. THE SEVEN DWARFS
This one is, like, really symbolic. Please bear with me and your mind shall be set free. Snow White is supposed to be the most beautiful girl ever. She is so gorgeous that her super bitchy stepmother asks the Huntsman to rip her heart out and put it in a box. Poor Snow White has no choice than to run into the Dark Forest. And yes, dark things happen in the dark forest. Dark. Evil. Danger. She is literally scared to death (symbolic) and wanders into the house of the Seven Dwarfs.
It is important to point out that Snow White has daddy issues. Her dad married a bitch and then died. It makes sense that she would seek refuge in other men. Here is my super deep analysis on the seven dwarfs. They are half men. Hold on! I don’t mean their size. If you think about it, the dwarfs are half men in the sense that they do not know how to keep a house clean, they do not know how to date women, and they still live like frat bros. They haven’t quite matured. Snow White, however, really needs to hang out with them so she can rediscover herself. They are not perfect, but they change when she brings beauty into their world. These jolly fellows work in a mine digging for diamonds. In other words, they find treasures in deep and dark places. Snow White is in the dark forest and under a lot of pressure. See where I’m going? Then, the witch comes and gives her a poisoned apple. It can’t get more biblical than that. Snow White ‘dies’ and only true love can save her. How many times is this story told over and over? Lana Del Rey, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, Lady Gaga… SAME SHIT. I guess in this case, I believe the seven dwarves represent all the men you have to go through before you can find your prince, and it all starts with having daddy issues and being super pretty. I guess nowadays everyone goes through the same thing regardless of who their parents are or if they are pretty at all. I guess beauty is supposed to lie beneath the surface, or something like that. Right?
5. MAD HATTER TEA PARTY
I bet you’ve always wanted to have an un-birthday party, haven’t you? Un-birthday parties are truly the best. We should have one right now. There is no need to wait 364 days each year to celebrate your life, and the Mad Hatter seems to think so. This guy turned out a little crazy because he inhaled a lot of mercury fumes during his lifetime of hat-making, but I’m not sure if that was really a bad thing. He is free. Time punished him by keeping him always at 6:00. That means there are no deadlines for him, no aging, and no definite time to wake up. If that’s not freedom then I don’t know what freedom is. There are many interpretations for the role of the Mad Hatter. Some people would say that he represents Alice’s subconscious. Others would say that he is simply a representation of the madness that (the perception of ) time and seclusion can cause on a person. I believe the Mad Hatter’s biggest contribution to the literal world is the infamous puzzle “How is a raven like a writing desk?” It’s not supposed to have an answer, but some people have found and suggested solutions. This proves that the Mad Hatter’s role in wonderland is to bring enlightenment through madness and confusion.
4. BEAST’S ENCHANTED CASTLE STAFF
Okay so maybe these people didn’t choose to live this way, but sometimes people don’t get to choose the cross they bear. You know what I mean? In this case, it was the actions of one selfish man in power that brought misery to all of his people. Happens in life quite often. All of Beast’s employees are literally turned into common household items for the rest of eternity until true love breaks the spell. I’m going to assume that you know what happens in the movie up to the point where Belle gets hungry and goes to the kitchen for food. Can you imagine if every time you went to dinner there was a huge musical number waiting for you like “OMG YES LET US SERVE YOU! BE OUR GUEST!?” And then after dinner the beast’s staff would proceed to show you around the palace, give you new fabulous clothes and hook you up with their rich master. I know he’s ugly and furry, but he has a castle, servants and a library, so does it really matter? His cult is the best cult ever because they will never try to harm you. I mean, I know they ultimately just want Belle to break the spell, but when both parties win, is it really that bad to ‘use’ each other? Ponder that.
3. HAKUNA MATATA
What a wonderful phrase! If you really don’t feel like dealing with darkness, cleaning houses and weird people, then maybe you should just try to get lost in the jungle instead. Simba’s uncle, Scar, one day decides to be a huge asshole and kills Mufasa for his own selfish benefit and rule over some rock full of pussycats. Is that where the term man cave comes from? Life questions. After that, poor little Simba has nowhere to go and nothing to do but walk the desert until he passes out from heat exhaustion. The logic here amazes me. One good day, Simba’s nearly dead body is found by Timon and Pumba [Insert Hakuna Matata song here]. Simba spends the majority of his adolescence and early adulthood hanging out with these two guys. They eat weird stuff, go swimming like every day, and if they can talk I’m sure they can smoke weed too. I wonder what kind of strains they have in Africa. I wonder if there is a strain called Hakuna Matata. There should be.
Enter NALA. A woman. I mean, a pussycat. She seduces Simba into feeling the love that night and then convinces him to return to a world of despair. He does. Guys will literally do anything when you’re a pretty woman in control of the situation. Try it. I am not holding a grudge against Nala for pulling Simba out of his Nirvana only because Simba actually became king, gained all the bitches, and could invite his two gay dads, Timon and Pumba, to hang out at the palace to trip out with Zazu and Rakifi. This is truly like the best of stories… Until his daughter and nephew have an incestuous relationship in Lion King 2. Ew.
2. ANDY’S TOYS
Do you ever feel like life isn’t real? Like, have you ever wondered if we are all just toys living in an evil child’s chest and only played with at the child’s convenience? What if, guys. What if. Just kidding. You are in charge of your destiny and all your life choices, believe me. But here is the thing. I love that Woody and his friends literally only come to life when their ‘master’ is gone, and I bet on Kim Kardashian’s boobs that you’ve done that too. Oh, mom and dad are going out of town? PARTY! Oh, a substitute teacher? NO CLASS! Oh, my boss is having lunch with a client? TAYLOR SWIFT IN THE OFFICE FTW! You get my drift. Apparently Rex throws really good parties in the bathtub, and the gang is always getting into the most awesome adventures. They also like to get themselves nearly killed. That scene where they are about to die in that landfill and all there is left to do is hold hands… DISNEY, ARE YOU TRYING TO KILL ME? That’s another thing. They are a super cute cult that truly cares about each other. Besides, this film was totally made for our generation aka those born in the early 1990’s aka back off little kids.
1. SURVIVORS OF FLIGHT 815
Before you question my ability to categorize things, let me just tell you that Lost aired on the abc network, which belongs to Disney. It’s called synergy.
Lost literally changed my life. I used to think television was superficial before I watched Lost. I didn’t believe in destiny until I watched Lost. I’ve never wanted to be part of a group so badly until I watched Lost, and I’m not even sure why. If I were to think of these people in terms of real life, I doubt we would ever run into each other, or have a conversation, and much less be friends. I like Sawyer, but I’m probably not his type. I like Claire, but she’s a mom and babies annoy me a little. I like Boone, but he’s a vampire now. Lost, however, wants me to think that Anything Could Happen, and maybe destiny could potentially crash my plane on a deserted island on my next trip to Cannes. Or maybe it won’t even have to crash. Because last time I got off a plane in the French Riviera, I came back with a whole new group of friends and connections that I’ll never forget. Sappy shit right there, but the same thing happened to the survivors of flight 815. It didn’t matter who they were back home. It didn’t matter how much they were worth. It didn’t matter that Scott Disick and Kourtney Kardashian don’t really understand the dynamics of raising a child. What mattered was being in the same place at the same time and overcoming situations together. They were all truly there for each other through the shittiest of times, like Andy’s toys. Isn’t that everything?