In Defense of the Disney Princess: Conclusion

As with any film, Disney’s Princess movies reflect the values of the society that made them. The princesses of the classic generation are domestic goddesses, perfect examples of ladylike behavior. They are always dreaming and optimistic. The princesses of the ’90s are curious and adventurous. They don’t fit in their society, and so they branch out, seeking a place in which they do belong. The current generation of princesses are independent. This independence can make them rebellious, and it means that they are willing to work hard to achieve their goals. All of these women have valuable qualities that young girls should emulate. No, they are not perfect:  show me a story with a perfect hero or heroine and I will show you a boring story. Our flaws as well as our weaknesses make us interesting and define who we are.

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In Defense of the Disney Princess: Part III

Disney Generations

I found this on Google. It describes the generations of the Disney Princess.

In my two previous posts about the Disney Princesses, I talked about the classic generation and the princesses of the ’90s. In this post, I will be looking at the princess movies of the 2000s:  Tiana, Rapunzel, and Merida (though I can only say so much about her, since Brave doesn’t come out until June). These princesses, following the example of Ariel, leave their homes and seek adventure. Even so, the nuclear family is important to these princesses. This is interesting because the older generation is concerned about the demise of the nuclear family:  they see that younger generations are moving away from the nuclear family and towards a family made of closely knit friends rather than blood. I think the theme of family in these films is an attempt by the older generation to instill in children a sense that blood relations are important. Neither Tiana nor Rapunzel seek a romantic relationship, but both find one. Romance is no longer priority number one, but it is still seen as something that should be obtained.

I’ve only seen The Princess and the Frog once, so I can’t say as much about it as I can the other films, which I have seen countless times. Tiana is a Unites States citizen, and she strongly embodies US ideals:  she is hardworking, independent, and passionate. She has goals towards which she works and about which she dreams. She is, in fact, the first Princess with goals. Previous princesses have had hobbies and dreams, but none had a specific goal like Tiana’s ambition of opening a restaurant.

In many ways, Rapunzel is a movement back to the classic generation, especially Aurora. Much like Aurora, Rapunzel is cut off from the outside world. Despite her boredom at never leaving her tower, Rapunzel is always optimistic. Also like Aurora, Rapunzel’s life changes when Flynn Rider–the first person she has ever conversed with, aside form Mother Gothel–appears in her tower. There are many things that set Rapunzel apart from the classics, though. Rapunzel has always been told horrible stories about people in the outside world, especially about men. Even so, when Flynn appears, Rapunzel doesn’t cower. Instead, she takes action, tying Flynn up and demanding that he obey her. She thinks for herself, making her own decisions about the lights, the people around her, and the world in general. Her independent thought allows her to be reunited with her parents, both of whom are still alive (like Aurora).

In June of this year, Disney/Pixar will release Brave. From the trailers, it looks like Merida suffers from a classic case of rebellious princess syndrome. The film plays along with the idea that the only strong woman is the one who rejects femininity in favor of more masculine pursuits. I have already given my opinion on that idea, and will not expound on it here. The thing about Brave that has interested me the most is that I have not seen or heard anything about Merida having a love interest. The trailers are full of Merida’s interactions with her boisterous father, her ladylike mother, and her mischievous younger brothers. There is what seems to be an archery competition for Merida’s hand, but, from what I can tell, Merida is not interested in any of them. Instead, she chooses to fight for her own hand. If Disney manages to pull off a successful fairy tale without a love interest for Merida, I will be very impressed.

The current generation of Disney princesses is in many ways the most interesting. They look back to previous generations, while at the same time creating identities for themselves. These princesses are independent, but have strong ties to the people in their lives.

In Defense of the Disney Princess: Part II

Disney Generations

I found this on Google. It describes the generations of the Disney Princess.

Earlier this week, I began my defense of the Disney Princesses with the classic generation: Snow White, Cinderella, and Aurora (Sleeping Beauty). You can read that article here. In part II, I will focus on the ’90s princesses: Ariel (who is technically 1989), Belle, Jasmine, Pocahontas, and Mulan. In the ’90s, the princesses begin to be independent. Rather than being orphaned or separated from their parents, these five princesses love their fathers (only Mulan seems to have a mother). Even so, they are willing to leave their families in order to grow up. Continue reading

In Defense of the Disney Princess: Part I

I have seen an increasing level of distaste for the Disney Princesses–many look at the princesses and say that they teach girls that physical beauty is the only thing that matters and that women have no power at their disposal outside their sexuality. I would like to argue. Despite the fact that most of these films are based on stories by the Grimm brothers (who did not seem to have a high opinion of women, primarily because of the view of women in their time), Disney managed to give their princesses varied personalities. Many of the princesses were strong characters who overcame adversity. Disney walked a very thin line of staying true to the stories while giving the princesses character and strength.

The Classic Princesses (Snow White, Cinderella, Aurora)

The criticisms against these three princesses are valid, in some ways. Snow White, Cinderella, and Aurora do spend their days dreaming that a prince will someday come and carry them away from their lives. However, in the mid-1900s, that was the norm. It was expected for girls to grow up fantasizing about their weddings. Isn’t that the case even now? I know that my friends don’t believe me when I tell them that my wedding hasn’t been planned since I was five, not do I currently have a dream wedding envisioned. If that is the thought now, how much stronger was it in the 19030s and ’50s? Continue reading