What “Stay Weird” Actually Means

You know what pisses me off about this trend of “stay weird” images, and the ones on Tumblr especially? The fact that I see SO MANY of them with Disney characters. Disney is kind of the opposite of “weird”. Disney stuff is so unobjectionable that TV Tropes people rank “Disneyfication” (by the way, I advise to read EVERYTHING in the “Disney examples” on that page) as sort of the next step in bland an unobjectionable after “Bowdlerisation”.

You can’t be both “unobjectionable” AND “weird”; it is impossible. “Weird” comes from the old Germanic “wyrd”, meaning Fate –something no-one wants to admit being bound to. The current use can be traced directly to Shakespeare, specifically Macbeth’s “weird sisters” (clairvoyant witches that served to represent the Norn, or Hellenic Moirai, the triad goddesses of Fate), and the fact that the earliest adaptations had them portrayed as strange in appearances and speaking in riddles. As recently as The Muppet Show, Sam the eagle denounces as “weird” anything he finds to be either strange or unwholesome (like a tree falling on one of the singers during a Wayne & Wanda song, or Miss Piggy and Rudolf Nureyev’s duet of the date-rape classic “Baby It’s Cold Outside”, or the mere presence of Special Guest Alice Cooper). You cannot be as wholesome as a Disney animated film and be “weird”.

Disney animated films are specifically designed to be as aesthetically appealing as possible, by portraying even most villians in the realm of “conventionally attractive” and relegating characters that were, in their original form in the stories the tale is adapted from, comically ugly (at the very least) into talking animals, lest someone be offended. Who wants a story where every sympathetic character dies? Moreover, who would be comfortable taking children to see that? Well, no worries, cos Disney is there to remove all the French Revolution politics out of Victor Hugo’s Hunchback of Notre Dame and give you a sappy cuddlefest that bears only a vague resemblance to the actual story –that’s not a tale of fate and unpleasantness, of life’s ineffable strangeness and all-too-often objectionable characteristics, it’s not truly a story of weird, it’s a story for people who want to avoid any true weirdness whatsoever, and pretend, even for an hour and a half, that the word is safe and warm and always inviting and that the good guy always wins, the Princess always gets her man, and everybody is just magically happy.

You want to stay weird? Try learning what the word actually means, and the nuance it carries, and don’t be so naive as to actually believe that Disney films have ever been truly weird.

About Ruadhán McElroy

Ruadhán has been a traditional Hellenic polytheist for about a decade, and has also maintained devotions to Eros and Apollon most of that time; his status as a devotee of Nyx is more recent. He also paints, makes music, makes jewellery, and writes novels set in the Mod Revival (UK) and Swampie (Oz) subcultures of the 1980s. He also gets a lot of odd little experiences that he jokes will forever render him an insufferable Goth.

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