Let’s compare the violence against women (VAW) in Disney’s Cruella De Vil stories, shall we?
In One Hundred and One Dalmatians (1961), which was, up until recently, the only Disney movie I had seen about the Cruella De Vil character, Cruella is a wealthy older woman. True to Disney form the wealthy older woman is portrayed as a horrible person. Viewers are led to dislike her immensely and rejoice at her fall in the end. However, if memory serves, Cruella (voice of Betty Lou Gerson) does not suffer any actual physical violence.
The same cannot be said of the 1996 remake, which does contain VAW. In 101 Dalmatians (1996) Cruella De Vil is played by Glenn Close, who gets quite a bit of abuse and several humiliating moments. Just in terms of physical violence: a horse kicks at her, sending her flying across a barnyard; and later a horse sends her flying through the air (again) and she crashes through a wooden roof (she lands in a massive mud puddle). Whereas Cruella is the one being kicked by a horse here, in One Hundred and One Dalmatians (1961) it is two men, her henchmen, who are kicked by the horse—not her. I haven’t read the book by Dodie Smith that the movies are based on, but I have to wonder why Disney went from a horse kicking men to a horse kicking a woman. It is also worth noting that Jeff Daniels, who plays Roger (owner of one of the original two dalmatians), integrates Cruella into a video game he designs, and the boy shown playing it blows her up with dynamite. So viewers get to see the animated and the 2D Cruella punished.
Cruella (2021) goes further still in its inclusions of VAW. I won’t list them all. Here is the worst of it: two women are pushed off a cliff to their death (two different scenes); a woman is bound by her wrists and ankles to a chair in her home by two men, then one of the men gags her; and then her own mother sets fire to her flat to kill her—and this is just the first of two attempts to murder her. Keep in mind that this is a PG-13 rated film.
The ending of Cruella (2021), in which the adult Cruella character is played by Emma Stone, who is in her early thirties, suggests that Disney will be releasing another Cruella movie soon. Given the trend of escalating VAW (and now violence against women and girls, or VAWG) in these film adaptations I shudder to think of the VAWG that awaits viewers in the sequel. Since we have already been subjected to assault, attempted murder and murder what’s next? Food for thought and something to keep an eye on.
Copyright © 2021 Alline Cormier
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