WHAT: “Alt Disney”
WHO: Artist Tom Ward
WHY WE CARE: The best movies from Disney’s animation department are exciting, dramatic morality plays drawn from the greatest stories in human history. Good triumphs over evil after learning some important lessons along the way. Pure hearts are revealed to be the ultimate way to balance uneven power dynamics. Truth, honesty, and humility prevail over any number of foes.
In other words, it often seems like they’re nothing like the world we live in now.
If that inconsistency bothers you, though, worry not. British artist Tom Ward has created a series of illustrations–drawn in perfect Disney style–to show you the heroes of your childhood adventures living the sort of lives that you yourself may be living. In his “Alt Disney” series, which the artist posted to social media, the prince is too busy texting to pay attention to Cinderella, Aladdin and the Genie play video games while sticking Jasmine with the housework, and Alice’s “eat me” cookies are replaced by a salad without dressing.
It’s not just the women who suffer through Ward’s Make Disney Great Again vision of 2017, either. Animals–often the protagonists of these grand stories–don’t always get to enjoy a life of adventure and excitement in the real world. Instead, Simba, Shere Khan, and Tigger are captives of a circus; Dumbo burns a collection of poached ivory; and Baloo, rather than enjoying the simple bear necessities of life, is in chains as he awaits rescue at the hands of his pal Mowgli. Even poor Scuttle the seagull from The Little Mermaid is stuck surviving an oil spill with Ariel. (We don’t want to know what happened to Sebastian.)
It’s not all bad, though. 2017 is a less magical future than today’s adults were promised as children by the cartoons of their youth, certainly, but there are a few things to recommend it. LeFou and Gaston from Beauty and the Beast–whose subtext in the live-action version earlier this year resulted in some dumb controversy–finally get to just gay it up without shame. Pinocchio’s ever-growing nose is an asset as he tells enough lies to finally fit both himself and Gepetto into the frame by using it as a selfie stick. And creeps like Peter Pan are finally kept out of the Darling residence, thanks to some well-placed security cameras.
The entire collection is kind of depressing (especially the ones with animals), but also a pretty effective way to highlight some of the specifics of our bleak reality that we wouldn’t tolerate in fiction. Let’s hope, at least, for a more magical world in the future.