5 Reasons Maleficent Changes Everything You Thought About Stepmothers
How infuriating, and frankly insulting, that in 2014 the stereotype of the evil stepmonster is still somewhat robust in film iconography, yet in our real lives it's rarely the case.
This is why I am grateful for Disney’s Maleficent, which is more than a retelling of Sleeping Beauty, but a triumph for women everywhere who choose to parent children to whom they did not give birth.
OK, in truth Angie isn't actually Aurora’s stepmother, but it's not for lack of trying. She did want to marry Aurora’s father, Stefan, but you know how it goes when you're a fairy dating a human. Sometimes the guy you like enters into an evil alliance with a king bent on trying to destroy you. Been there.
Despite the fact Maleficent is based on Disney’s original Sleeping Beauty, they were willing to eschew the outdated image of the character's villainous revenge fantasies in exchange for a supermom with powers befitting a mother of six with an Oscar, and a few Golden Globes, whose hobbies include "U.N. Ambassador."
Let's not forget that from a historical perspective, most modern fairy tales including Sleeping Beauty were written by the anti-feminist, sardonic Brothers Grimm. Arguably, two of the most misogynistic and twisted siblings ever to put pen to paper. (But, then again, so was everyone in those days.) Theirs are tales of morality designed to keep women in their place by offering ideas such as if a woman is childless, she then must also be unloving, evil, and visually detestable. Fortunately, female empowerment in children's films continues to evolve. Veteran Disney screenwriter Linda Woolverton, the studio’s first-ever female animated film scribe, started the ball rolling with Beauty and the Beast, for which she fought tooth and nail to make Belle a tomboy who pursued her own interests ahead of any man's. And now Woolverton has created Maleficent, demonstrating her remarkable progress (having also co-authored The Lion King) in creating strong, independent female role models.
That said, here are the top five reasons Maleficent is a love note to non-bio moms everywhere.