This article was originally published on May 2, 2014 but we think it still rocks!
It's well-established in Disney canon that Mulan saves China, Ariel lives happily ever after with Prince Eric, and Pocahontas eases the tensions between her tribe and the colonists. Chock full of life lessons, entertaining narratives, and memorable characters, nobody claims that these wishy-washy stories resemble the truth. Drawing inspiration from this unwritten law of Disney, animator Jeff Hong created Unhappily Ever After, a tumblog that brings classic Disney characters into the real world.
The composites project the problems these well-known characters would face if their worlds were taken to their depressingly-logical conclusions. Mulan got down to business to defeat the Huns, only to have her beloved country become covered in smog. Alice was a little too trusting of bottles labeled "Drink Me", so now her only visits to Wonderland are through her chemical dependancy. Pocahontas works at a casino, and so on.
Hong’s tongue-in-cheek illustrations celebrate the places Disney cartoons have earned in modern culture—but they also highlight the naiveté that permeates the innocent, nostalgia-inducing universes us kids grew up with. One of the most heart-wrenching examples is the plight of The Princess and the Frog’s Tiana and her mother, seen entering a "colored only" waiting room. The simple evil of the sign far surpasses the brief allusions to inequality of the original film.
As a storyboard animator for Nickelodeon, Hong has worked on several big name Disney movies, including Hercules, Mulan, Tarzan, and The Emperor's New Groove. He enjoys the wealth of creativity offered by re-appropriating the iconic characters from animations past. “I have a huge appreciation for fine arts and internet humor,” Hong says. “Not that I think it's exactly fine art, but I like that it's bringing issues into discussion.”
The illustrations are lighthearted in nature, but they make it painfully clear that today’s problems are unlikely to be solved by a merry band of misfits who somehow sing like a classically trained cast of Broadway actors and talking animals—if only things were so easy.
For more, visit Unhappily Ever After on Tumblr.