Fallacies are common errors in reasoning that will undermine the logic of any argument.
The understanding of the nature of logical fallacies and their presence in various arguments can be considered as one of the key pillars of critical thinking. This brings to mind a ton of circumstances under which fallacies might help bring out good result. In regards to movies and shows, authors would sometimes intentionally utilize fallacies to help build a character’s individuality. In Disney’s 2010 animated featured film, Tangled, logical fallacies were used to depict Mother Gothel (main antagonist) as a manipulative and dishonest arguer.
Evil stepparents have been prominent in many films, dating back to the 1950s; Disney films are no exception. In Tangled (2010), Disney puts a psychological emphasis on the byproduct of the different forms of child-abuse and mistreatment by stepparents. By commanding a false sense of love and respect for her daughter, Mother Gothel attempts to manipulate Rapunzel’s entire life. Throughout the movie, Mother Gothel uses several fallacies: Appeal to Pity, Appeal to Ridicule, Appeal to Authority and Appeal to Fear. The utilization of Appeal to Authority appears to be most evident when she sings “Mother Knows Best”. Throughout the song, repetitions of the line “Mother knows the best” is emphasized to show Gothel’s manipulative nature. Appeal to authority refers to an argument that solely relies upon testimony, not facts. When people use appeal to authority, they are claiming that something must be true because it is believed by someone who is said to be an “authority”. In this case, the Gothel calls herself to be the authority on the subject. On certain occasions, reliance upon authority figures’ testimonies might not seem fallacious. But in reality, there is a possibility that a testament would be motivated by personal prejudice.
In the same song, Mother Gothel uses a series of statements that are characterized by the Appeal to ridicule. As quoted, “On your own, you won’t survive, sloppy, underdressed, immature, clumsy, please, they’ll eat you up alive, gullible, naïve, positively grubby, ditzy and a bit, well, hmm vague.” These lyrics show how Gothel use her words to offend Rapunzel’s dignity. This shows how criticizing, humiliating, or berating a child could affect a child’s self-confidence along with their decision-making. Appeal to ridicule is a fallacy that rejects a claim, not by attending to the basis or legitimacy of the claim, but rather by deviating from the topic through mockery or sarcasm to present an opposing argument as absurd, ridiculous, or humorous, and therefore not worthy of serious consideration. The line is consequently followed by another quote: “Getting’ kinda chubby, I’m just saying cause I wuv you, Mother understands, mother’s here to help you, All I have is one request.” This line exemplifies the theme of this song, which is Mother Gothel emotionally breaking down Rapunzel so she will do her will. It may be done in a cutesy manner, but Gothel’s insulting her and then preemptively compensating by saying she loves her.
After Rapunzel uncovers the truth behind her upbringing, Mother Gothel attempts to suppress her relevations. Despite Gothel’s desperate claims that her actions were out of love, Rapunzel denies the abuse and her proclamation. In these scene, Mother Gothel uses the Appeal to Pity fallacy. Appeal to Pity refers to a fallacy that attempts to distract from the truth of the conclusion by the use of pity. Mother Gothel has always used Appeal to Pity to sugarcoat many of her lies. This appears to be an important part of Rapunzel’s development as a character. By the end of the movie, it is apparent that Rapunzel has grown to have a better understanding on her stepmother’s selfish greed.