Growing up in a Disney house, one of my favorite movies was Pocahontas. What was there not to love about the Romeo and Juliet-esque relationship between the nature girl, sweet as honey, daughter of Chief Powhatan and the caring, strong as stone, British settler John Smith?
I think I was in fourth grade when I first saw an actual portrait of John Smith. A chubby, bald, bearded man stared back at me as I sat in my seat in Mrs. Kasparek’s class, incredulous (now I’m not one to judge on looks, but that was just ridiculous). Where was the blonde, flowing hair? The strong jaw? The chiseled physique of the Mel Gibson-voiced hunk?
I remembered back to when I first saw Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World. Why on Earth did she marry John Rolfe instead of her love, Smith? Surely there was some mistake…
Well, there was. Disney John Smith was a lie, and Real John Smith was a liar. Many historians believe the whole Pocahontas-saved-my-life story from the settler was fabricated to increase his popularity. After all, he brought it up around twenty years after the apparent life saving.
So that explains why John Rolfe won-over Pocahontas and had child with her before she died in her early twenties of unknown causes.
But still, there’s something about the story, the songs, the characters in the (completely fictional) Pocahontas. I still love the movie; I just watch it in a different light now. It’s just like finding out Darth Vader is Luke’s father. Now whenever you watch Star Wars, you look at the Dark Lord of the Sith and can only think of the fact that he’s Luke’s dad.
No matter, I still ship Disney John Smith and Pocahontas. I still awe at the little raccoon, Meeko, and, despite my better judgment, I still try to sing both parts of “Savages”. I still love the incredible lie that is Disney’s Pocahontas.