The rule in my house about Christmas movies is that they are strictly forbidden until the day after Thanksgiving. Look, I love Christmas, but I cannot handle the idea of Yuletide cheer until I am allowed to thoroughly enjoy my fall. There is, however, one exception to this rule: The Nightmare Before Christmas. I love this movie with a passion that swells inside of me like a sponge in water. If it happens to be on TV, I'm watching it. If it's fall, I'm listening to the soundtrack. When Disney switches its Haunted Mansion ride to have Nightmare Before Christmas characters from October to January, I prefer it to the original version of the ride, which (in my personal experience) is a sort of controversial opinion. I have mentally created an amazing Broadway production of this movie over the course of about 15 years. (If they can do it with The Lion King, they can do it with this! It would be so cool!) That's how much I love The Nightmare Before Christmas. This past October, I introduced my kids to the movie and, of course, they loved it. So I dusted off an old Sally doll for them to play with. (Yes, it had been mine and yes, I was in high school when I got it. What's it to you?) But as I watched my daughter delightedly bat around the little rag doll, I came to a realization: Sally is one of the worst heroines ever.
For goth kids (and former goth kids, like me), Jack and Sally are held up as this ideal romantic couple but, really, let's break it down for a second here: Jack is visionary in his field; a king. He sings songs of longing to express himself in more exciting ways. Sally sings songs about how she's not good enough for this misguided, short-sighted guy who has shown very little interest in her other than knowing her name and calling her clever once. Jack's motivations throughout the film are all to do with creativity, discovery, ambition, and accomplishment — Sally's motivations are entirely based on Jack. At the end of the movie, Sally and Jack determine they are "simply meant to be" and kiss in one of the coolest and most iconic kisses in all of cinema. But the whole thing plays out like a narcissist's wet dream, the story of a man who, in spite of a great folly, gets to retain his status as compelling and beloved genius, winding up with the quiet mousy girl who underplays her own ingenuity to worship him. Looking at it from Sally's point of view, it's basically vicarious wish fulfillment for every quiet girl who ever loved the lead singer in a band.
Normally, I would dismiss all this as typical, male-centric movie writing, and to some degree, that is there. But this is slightly different. Sally isn't a manic pixie dream zombie. She's an actual character, showing inventiveness, intelligence, and potential. Yet she devotes all of her mental, emotional, and physical resources to a dude. And Jack's cool and all, awesome even, but so is Sally and she won't let herself be cool because she's too focused on Jack.
In short, I would not want my daughter to look up to this tragic rag doll. Allow me to be specific.
She's Emo As Hell
And not in a fun, early 2000s, high school way. It's in a really depressing, whiny way. Get a friggin' grip, girl. I'd imagine it's hard to be the most morose person in Halloweentown, a village dedicated to the dark and disturbing, but congrats, Sally. You managed. You managed to out-emo Jack, a really pale skinny guy tormented by the limitations of his creative genius and your creepy controlling creator who lobotomizes himself to create an ideal woman.
She's A Stalker
What else would you call someone who follows a famous person, eavesdrops on their personal moments, jumps out of windows to give them unsolicited, homemade gifts, and sleeps in front of their house when they don't come home? That's pretty insane, Sally.
She's An Enabler AND An Underminer
Despite knowing in her gut that Jack taking on Christmas is a terrible idea, she makes exactly one direct protest ("Jack, listen to me: it's going to be a disaster!") and then goes along with the plan, anyway, making Jack's Santa suit and even helping him get dressed for his Christmas Eve flight. Dafuq? Sure, in his enthusiasm, Jack sorta steamrolls over her concerns, but what exactly is compelling her to actually agree to take part in this whole kerfuffle? Sally, just say, "This is a terrible idea and I'm not going to help you with it." But no, wouldn't want Jack to think you're standing up to him. So what does she do instead? She dumps fog juice in a fountain to try to keep his sleigh grounded. Girl. Come on now.
She's Passive Aggressive
See also: fog juice.
She Is Singularly Concerned With Jack... But Why?
As Jack himself points out, he's already dead. This is a dude who sets himself on fire to make his own holiday jazzier
So what, really, is the worst that's going to happen to Jack? He's going to have his feelings hurt? Shouldn't she be more focused, on, say, the millions of children who are going to be murdered by their ill-advised Christmas presents?
Do you really think this snake will stop with the Christmas tree?
Jack's going to be fine, Sally. Calm the hell down. She's like a helicopter not-even-girlfriend.
She Seems To Exist Exclusively To Bask In Jack's Brilliance
And how brilliant could he be, really, when he thinks child-eating ducks and dead turtles are good Christmas presents?
Learn To Walk, Sally, Jeez
(Actually, her weird, choppy walk is a result of the model's cool and weird design. Still.)
The Nightmare Before Christmas will always be one of my very favorite movies. But all of my love cannot make me excuse the fact that Sally is a really crappy role model for the little girls watching.
What can I say? Problematic and hopeless romantic high school goth girls die hard, folks...
Images: Disney; Giphy (4); Imgur (2); Tumblr (2)