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Are Disney Princess Movies Over?

With the recent release of Tangled, Disney is starting a new chapter in its animation catalog.  Once the domain of princesses and fairy tales, according to an LA Times article, Disney is closing the book on princess movies.  As an avid Disney fan, when I read the article I found the news unsettling for a few reasons.

The Prince Charming Myth

Princess fairy tales have long had a bad rap in feminist circles because of idealized notions of love and promoting the myth of Prince C harming.  I have no problem admitting that I’m a feminist – but I also love Disney princesses – so what gives?  Yes, I can see that perpetuating a myth of a princess that needs rescuing is deeply flawed.  But Disney’s more modern princesses do as much saving as their princes.  These princesses are strong willed and go after what they want.  That the films all end with Prince Charming doesn’t bother me so much.  I think love is  natural part of life and I don’t think that I wanted love in my and got married because I watched Disney films growing up.  And, I think it’s important for girls to know that they should be treated well in their relationships with men.

Attracting a Wider Audience

Disney’s most recent princess movie, The Princess and the Frog was a box office disappointment because it catered to a narrow audience – little girls.  In a time when most children’s movies center around male protagonists, I find this conclusion alarming.  The Disney princess movies were films that you could count on a female lead – and now that’s gone too.  Tangled is an example of how Disney plans to approach their fairy tales – by adding a lead male character to the Rapunzel tale to attract boys as well.  A look at future projects Disney has in the works all involve male lead characters.  What kind of message are we sending little girls if the are always playing supporting roles?

Princess or Hot, Cool Chick?

“By the time they’re 5 or 6, they’re not interested in being princesses,” said Dafna Lemish, chairwoman of the radio and TV department at Southern Illinois University and an expert in the role of media in children’s lives. “They’re interested in being hot, in being cool. Clearly, they see this is what society values.”

It seems childhood is getting shorter and shorter with kids trying to act much older than they actually are.  It’s a shame that we are sexualizing little girls at such a young age.  I may be deemed “old fashioned” but I will try to let my little girl be a kid for as long as possible.  I’d much rather her play the role of Disney princess than Bratz character.

The End of an Era

It seems like we’ve come to an end of an era with Disney’s long line of princess movies.  I know that when my tiny dancer is old enough to appreciate them, we’ll watch all of the princess movies together.  I’ll be sure to let her know that she doesn’t need to rely on Prince Charming to achieve her dreams.  I just hope that in the mean time, we can come up with strong, positive role models for girls to look up to – in film, as well as in the toy industry.  Role models that emphasize creativity, independence and strength rather than being the prettiest or the coolest – or sidelined to a supporting character role.

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One Response to “Are Disney Princess Movies Over?”

  1. Stella says:

    I heard about this! So sad. I’m “old-fashioned,” too, and don’t want the new female Disney leads to be bratty, tween, Miley Cyrus types. And while there may be some old school stuff with the princesses, they also have character and kick some butt.

    I totally understand a business decision to want to appeal to boys and girls, but if you look at the current Disney swag and characters from their movies, there are PLENTY of boy heroes and leads. Princesses should continue!


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