The Economic Impacts of Black Magic in Disney’s Sleeping Beauty
Abstract: Post-Industrial Americans regard the spinning wheel as a quaint prop of a by-gone age. It is not until we grasp its place at the foundation of textile production in early economies, however, that we realize that Maleficent’s curse and the resultant destruction of spinning wheels was an attack not just on the baby princess Aurora but on the economic fabric of the kingdom itself. The sudden removal of wheel technology for yarn production would cripple if not topple the textile industry of a fourteenth century agrarian economy. Through use of computer modeling we discuss the volume production drop caused by a sudden shift from spinning wheel to drop spindle technology and examine the ramifications on the wool trade, the rise in imports to replace lost domestic capacity and concomitant inflation across the economy , the loss of competitiveness among other regional powers, and the dramatic increase in costs accrued for the exotic textiles displayed in King Stephen’s court.
It’s one thing to anger a malevolent spirit—it’s another entirely to anger a malevolent spirit with a thorough knowledge of textile capacities and the creative curses to bring an entire kingdom’s economy to its knees.
Love it. I had wondered about the seemingly random choice of a spinning wheel as the instrument of Aurora’s destruction, but you’ve brought it all together for me.
The morals of some of these TV specials from the 50s-70s is really troubling when you look at them with adult eyes now. I watched the Roudolph and Baby New Year special tonight, where everyone laughs at Baby New Year for his big ears and the up shot of the story is that he should just learn to live with the laughter! No, lesson in there that people shouldn’t laugh at someone who looks unusual.
Actually, Fern, I think the spinning wheel is from the original folklore and–taking a more serious note–has some deep subtexts to it. Spinning was the quintessential “women’s work” and for Sleeping Beauty to be set apart from spinning leaves her in an ambiguous category. I imagine that folks in gender studies really have spilled some ink on this one…
Michelle–as one who endured elementary school with the nickname of “Dumbo” due to ear size I’m totally with you…
The best yet!