Friday, November 7, 2014

What Disney Teaches Me: Flynn Rider

"You leave me no choice . . . here comes the smolder."
When I first watched Tangled, I was in love with everything--especially Flynn. Who couldn't love the swashbuckling, dashing, and hilarious thief with the adorable sob story and who appears to be entirely entranced by an innocent, naive, young Rapunzel? 

They appear to be the 'perfect' couple; Flynn's dry humor added with Rapunzel's positive outlook make for fantastic foils. He protects her when danger comes by, but isn't exempt from being saved by her (see: "I've Got a Dream" prelude). And let's be honest: it can make some of our inner fangirls squee when he looks at Rapunzel, or tucks a strand of hair behind her ear.

However, thinking over the film brought me to see Eugene Fitz Herbert in a more insidious light.

"Guys, I want a castle."

First, we see the daring thief with his two thieving companions--obviously, from his charming looks and charismatic opening, we can instantly see that Flynn is the more likable of the trio. He's friendly and jovial, while the Stabbington Brothers are big, scary-looking, and mean-sounding.

"Hay fever?"
Flynn further endears himself to viewers as he casually makes conversation with a guard while in the act of robbing the kingdom, resulting in a chase, which he appears to be entirely okay with--going so far as to comment on a poster of himself, delaying him and his companions (and also conveying what could be either lighthearted joviality . . . or possibly narcissism disguised as such).
Oh, you poor thing.
And then the real problems begin. Merry chase through the forest, and then they're cornered. It was right of the two brothers not to trust Flynn with the satchel . . . 

"I am wounded!"
. . . because he wasn't planning on letting them have their part of the payout. He left them to die, while he made off with the bounty; he told the Stabbington Brothers that they could trust him, but then steals the satchel and takes off. He stabbed the Stabbingtons in the back (pun wasn't intended, but it happened), and it was possibly premeditated: he was the one that alerted the guards to their presence. Perhaps he planned that he would dupe them out of the crown beforehand.

Now, this could have easily been redeemed, if only Flynn had heard them talking about betraying him first. In that scenario, it would have been perfectly acceptable for Flynn to do what he did; the Stabbington Brothers would be the ones who were in the fault. But they didn't. 

Flynn betrayed them without any provocation. 

Later, he tries to scare Rapunzel into chickening out back to her tower and just giving him the satchel. Kudos to our spunky heroine for not doing that and bothering Flynn further. 

He's greedy. One could argue that this changes, because he gives the crown back to the Stabbington Brothers at the end of the show, but by then, he has the girl with him who can grant eternal youth (and who is later revealed to be the lost princess!). 

"A fair trade: a crown for the girl with the magic hair."
What makes it worse is that Flynn receives has hardly any consequences for doing these things--mainly the one about stabbing his partners in the back. He appears to change from a scoundrel to a loving, tender-hearted gentleman in under three days. People don't change in three days. 

I don't think 'fairy tale rules' apply here, considering that, to the best of his knowledge, two people were going to die over his betrayal.

The only repercussion for betraying the Stabbington Brothers he receives is it eventually puts him in a position where Rapunzel thinks he's betrayed her. 

Now, Flynn might have some redeeming qualities. After all, he went to find Rapunzel after she thought he had betrayed her. He was willing to sacrifice himself to save Rapunzel; he didn't know that her tears could heal him, nor did he know that cutting off the magic would kill the witch. 

However, in the words of Kuzco, "Nobody is that heartless!" (Emperor's New Groove). Or, at least, no one with half a heart. Rapunzel was willing to give herself to a life a slavery to save him. Wouldn't it be a little guilt-tripping to know that every breath you take has been bought by the enslavement of another person?

It'd have been like selling a baby to someone, considering how naive and innocent Rapunzel was.

"I've got dreams like you--no, really!--just much less . . . touchy-feely,
and mainly happen somewhere warm and sunny~ on an island that I own
un-arrested and alone! Surrounded by enormous piles of money!"
Besides, Flynn then asks Rapunzel to marry him--then he gets a castle, an island that he owns, and a lot of money.

Well played, thief. Well played.

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