More on the damn princesses (for Simon)

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OK, in the comments to that last post, Simon wrote:

I demand a more abstract reason for you hating Disney princesses, because: A survey listing reasons each movie princess is regressive, reactionary, racist (or other R-word) doesn't break down the specific overall reason for hating them. Not that I'm all super stoked on princesses. If we're going to barrage young girls with very specific gender programming, we should pick one that will have positive results in the long run - like porn stars (not their real lives, just their on-camera personas) or politicians (ditto). I personally prefer the porn star route, but that's because I'm an awful, awful person. Also, more hormones in the milk, please. But seriously - gimme an intro and conclusion to your post, even if it's a seperate post entirely.

Because I would rather stab myself repeatedly in the liver than ever discuss porn with Simon again, I'm going to ignore that part of the comment and address the point. That last post was intellectually lazy. I can do better.

I have multiple problems with the Disney princesses, both individually and collectively. I touched on my individual problems with them in the last post, but didn't say much about the collective. My biggest problem with them collectively is their very sameness. From Snow White in 1939 all the way through Disney's most recent "princess," Mulan, not a whole lot has changed. Disney pays lip-service to diversity (first through princesses with differing hair colors, and more recently with the non-white princesses), and to increasing "spunk" among the princesses, but really, the story remains the same (as do the big-eyed tiny-waisted princesses themselves). It nearly every narrative, the princess gets in some kind of trouble, generally due either to some mistake she herself makes or to the meddling or stupidity of another woman in the plot, and is rescued by a prince, always "handsome" and usually someone she barely knows. The details differ, but the princesses are never shown with human female friends (woodland creatures and talking dishes are fine, though), and are often in competition with other women. The message that sends is pretty clear--women are against you, but if you're pretty enough and suffer enough, some handsome man will come and sweep you away.

Aside from the old, tired, regressive handsome prince story, I also hate the class overtones many of the princess stories take. The handsome princes in their lives don't just "rescue" them from endless sleep (Sleeping Beauty, Snow White) and entrapment/marriage to icky men (Belle, Jasmine) but from poverty and/or being "ordinary" (Cinderella, Belle, Aurora, Mulan). The message is not only that normal lives aren't good enough, but that you need to be rescued from being mundane from some dude.

Honestly, I could go on and on. I get so irritated when trying to write about this that I have trouble making a logical argument. Which I recognize, again, is intellectually lazy. But here's a start, anyway.

1 Comments

Thanks! I think this post nails down some very specific reasons to hate those movies.

As rich and handsome man, I promise to never rescue any young women from poverty - or anything else for that matter.

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