Oliver’s NYC Escape

Oliver and Company (Oliver's NYC Escape)My passionate love for all things New York City began with the rollicking technicolor adventure of Disney’s Oliver & Company.  While it can’t be possible because I was born in 1983, but I recall seeing Oliver & Company on the big screen movie; but I still maintain that The Little Mermaid was my first big screen Disney movie.  The pop-songs of Billy Joel and the bright colors of New York City were candy to me.  Oliver & Company had it all, as far as I was concerned: quick, hand-drawn animation; various styles of humor; a lesson about family; and the pop-songs of Billy Joel.  The Disney film’s Manhattan adventures helped lay the foundation that created the landscape that fueled my queer escape fantasies.

Oliver, the remaining free-to-adopt kitten in the box, reflects the emotional isolation queer students feel throughout middle and high school, watching other students pair off to experiment with the opposite sex.  Oliver is separated from his peers.  Abandoned, Oliver falls into friendship with the thief Fagin and his dogs – Dodger, Tito, Francis, and Rita – paralleling the found family friends that homosexuals find in similar people; either because of disapproval or knowing how difficult life would be for the child.  During his time with Fagin’s crew, Oliver meets a similarly abandoned young rich girl, Jenny.  Upon meeting Jenny, Oliver is offered an opportunity of acceptance; and vice-versa for Jenny, who is consistently left with only a butler while her parents travel.  The basis of that acceptance is that Jenny doesn’t truly know Oliver, or his life as a thief, which eventually catches up with him.  For queer identity development Jenny represents the dreams and goals that are imposed by the majority.  Oliver, like young queers, has mixed feelings about owning the newly discovered world or the normative from which they came.  Choosing neither endangers the clarity of life’s path.  Only at the end when both worlds, that Oliver doesn’t want to meet, do meet is he able to find happiness in his identity and create unique goals for himself.

Oliver & Company painted the picture of New York City with the experiences and people I wanted.  The characters kept a sunny view towards the world, despite the hardships that were thrown at them, regardless of the collar-color of the problem.  While they scrounged for food scrapes the dogs made playful games of their thievery to alleviate.  The cast of Oliver & Company took their lumps, learned, and then tried again with new vigor.  They had grit, ambition, and motivation to make steps.  No matter how many knocks life gave them, Fagin & Crew dreamed of a utopian life, nurtured with their communal domestic routine.  As in the found family, Fagin & Crew, shared their spoils and comforted through their failures.  They were early models of friendship and family in its purest forms.  A New York City of bohemian friendship, where there wasn’t much, but what was had was shared willingly.

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Oliver & Company

 

 

Just as Oliver was the remaining kitten in the box came to reflect the emotional isolation that came with identifying as queer and homosexual throughout middle and high school, watching other students pair off to experiment with the opposite sex, removing early relationship templates for later.  Being separated from his peers Oliver fell into friendship with Fagin and his dogs parallels the friends that homosexuals find in similar people, which could appear dangerous and scary for parents; either because of disapproval or knowing how difficult life would be for the child.  Then Oliver meets Jenny, the rich girl, who offers him the opportunity of life of acceptance, which is based upon the fact that Jenny doesn’t truly know Oliver other than she wants a kitten.  For queer identity development Jenny represents the dreams and goals that are imposed by the majority.  At this point Oliver, like young outsiders, is conflicted between the world they have discovered on their own and the heteronormative, and so chooses neither life, which endangers both.  Only at the end when both worlds, that Oliver doesn’t want to meet, do meet is he able to find happiness in his identity and create unique goals for himself.

 

Oliver & Company painted the picture of New York City that was populated with people that were similar to me.  New York City was a world that was tailored to me.

 

 

 

Disney’s Beauty & the Beast (1991)

beauty-and-the-beast-disney            Disney’s Beauty and the Beast (1991) has been a fixture since I was 8 years old and (like everyone else) captivated by the music and animation.  Each time I watch the movie it represents my queer and homosexual experiences.

Belle’s reading, bravery, and compassion made her my Disney princess; Ursula and Maleficent had been my favorites up until then; Oliver and Company was my Disney film up until then.  Belle was the outsider as princess – the villagers thought she was odd, while Jasmine or Snow White were born princesses with privilege.  Belle’s desire to escape from her village to experience the bigger world mirrored my own queer desire to escape suburbia.  Unlike Ariel and Eric, or Aurora and Phillip, Belle and Prince Adam’s love formed organically.  Yes, I do find prisoner falling in love with their jailer romantic.

The Beast is Heathcliff-type romantic.  He is downtrodden and angry, insecure about the future because there had been so much rejection.  His fear and pain reflected my own, entering the dating realm with baggage of rejection and pain before having even begun dating.  The Beast also became the model for my ideal partner: rough with an awoke interior.  As well as a certain minotaur fantasy.