| ||The below is a written comment I wrote in response to a post entitled "Are the Disney Princesses Harmful?" In it, I contend that the author's problem is not truly with the princess characters, but instead with the plotline of Disney movies. Since this is tangentially about writing, I thought somebody might be interested.|
Also yes, I know, I write comments that are far too long.
Original text of article HERE.
I actually don't think you have a complaint with the characters... I think you have a complaint with the plotlines of Disney stories, and fairy tales in general.
You're basically looking at a simple formula... here, I'll explain with both Aladdin and The Little Mermaid. One has a male protagonist, one has the princess protagonist. They're still basically the same story.
1) Girl is in trouble (Jasmine is going to be force to marry, Ariel feels trapped underwater by overprotective father)
2) Girl meets boy (Jasmine meets Aladdin, Ariel meets Eric)
3) Somebody saves somebody [strong emotions born from terrifying circumstances] (Aladdin saves Jasmine in the marketplace, Ariel rescues the drowning Eric)
4) First trouble intensifies (Jafar mind controls the Sultan, forcing him to declare marriage marriage of Jasmine and Jafar; King Triton wrecks Ariel's treasure trove)
5) Plan Alpha to Solve Trouble 1 : This will fail. (Aladdin becomes a Prince, Ariel gets a spell to walk on land)
6) Lovey-Dovey Scene 1 : (Whole New World, Kiss the Girl). Romantic tensions increase, but are ultimately foiled.
7) Second problem arises (Jafar in control, Ursula with power)
8) Hero and Heroine solve the conflict together (Jasmine distracts Jafar while Aladdin convinces him to become a genie, Ariel destroys Flotsam and Jetsam indirectly, while Eric rams a ship up Ursula's guts)
9) The Hero and Heroine unite (symbolized by marriage), and begin a prosperous life together.
The important thing to notice here is that our character relationships evolve right alongside our storyline's plot path. As situations grow more tense, the princess and her prince grow together, and the tension of their relationship increases. By the end of the story, with a kingdom saved, they are left with the strongest connection they have ever felt before. That's what we call "love". You'll also notice that marriage is not, in and of itself, a resolution of the plotline troubles. There are some Disney princesses that fall a little more to this stereotype, such a Cinderella, but you'll note they're also redemptive in being the only hard-working people in the film. Same thing for Snow White. What does she do? She whistles while she WORKS.
When you contend Princesses should say things like "I want to make or influence important political decisions for a country", I ask, how is this compelling storytelling? Can you sell me a movie intended for 5-12 year old girls that shows the Princess making important political decisions in a majority of scenes? Even more noticeably... where in history do you see this happening? The vast majority of historical princesses are three lines in a textbook... birth, marriage date/spouse, and death date. Even if you think of modern princesses like Lady Diana, they're hardly noted for making state decisions. Opening charities, hugging babies, sure. But sitting in a war room, or consulting on economic policy? That's a rarity. So the idea that historical perception is in favor of proactive princesses seems a bit off-target.
I also disagree with your perception of the word "princess". People have been sniping about entitled, vapid royalty for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. Marie Antionette, anyone? Most of the later Czars, and their families? Even the most modern "princesses", like the Bush twins... hardly role model material, or at least, not shown to be so by the media.
There are a few modern examples more in line with what you'd like the perception to be. I'm a big fan of Ella of Frell, and Fiona. Both have very proactive moments, Ella's being exactly the sort you seem to endorse. However, these are also intended for older audiences, when you can deviate more from the above model and get a bit of plot complexity and character depth, because your audience can handle it.
Those early-age Disney movies handle proactive princesses in the only way they can; in the context of a love story and a magical adventure, where we just don't have time to write in an international embargo situation, or an audience that could be entertained by that.
I must admit though, the perception of Disney princesses is very strong. I spent far too long chasing girls who looked like Belle. Long dark hair, pale skin, intellectuals with a passion for books or music. /sigh. Bonus points for glasses. Belle should've had glasses.
| ||Posted 8/24/2011 12:21 AM - 73 Views - 6 eProps - 4 comments|
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