ok ok ok ok ok ok can I just have a quick lil moment of your time?
So Hunchback is far and away my favorite movie from Disney’s Renaissance, and it always makes me so happy that yes, people seem to appreciate it, people seem to love it, but I’mma go into exactly WHY it’s my favorite, and WHY I think it’s so crucial, and WHY I think it should be required viewing for young boys specifically.
We all know that a huge bulk of the media we’ve grown up with consistently has that one frustrating message: Being the hero means you’ll get the girl. Many boys let this mentality bleed into reality. We have “nice guys,” who feel that their niceness entitles them to romance, when obviously that discredits a female’s personal choice. We all get this, we all know this, and a lot of us get that it’s a toxic message.
So check out our hero.
He’s an incredibly good person who isn’t conventionally attractive.
Check out our lady.
Super good person, conventionally attractive.
The movie so deliberately builds up Quasi’s hopes. There’s a whole fucking song about it.
But Esmeralda, who is her own person with her own motivations and preferences, chooses another man, who is also good and also attractive.
A lot of people criticize this aspect of the movie, the fact that Quasi doesn’t get the girl BECAUSE of his appearance. But my argument? This is the best damn message a movie could ever send.
Because when things get dicey, when Esmeralda’s life in in danger, when Quasi would be putting his own life on the line, he knows that romance is no longer within the realm of possibility. He knows he won’t be “getting the girl.” He knows this, and he allows himself a moment of bitterness, he risks falling prey to the “nice guy” trope, and he almost succumbs.
“She already has her knight in shining armor, and it’s not me.”
BUT THEN HE DOES THE RIGHT THING.
He has NO ulterior motive for saving her life. NO ulterior motive for opposing the man who raised him. And he doesn’t know that he’ll get any reward, he knows he could straight up get killed for his actions, and yet he still acts.
And there’s no bitterness. There’s still so, so much love between him and Esmeralda, pure awesome platonic love, and love between him and Phoebus, and just fucking love all around, it’s amazing.
I’ve heard so many people express distaste at Quasi not ending up with Esmerelda. Like he was cheated out of some kind of reward. But have they watched the ending?
Does that look like a man cheated of his reward? Does he look like he “lost” to Phoebus? No dude, that’s a man who has everything he ever wanted, and that’s also a man who didn’t “get the girl.”
If that’s not an essential message for young boys to hear, I don’t know what is.