I’ve always loved fairy tales and princesses. So does Disney. It might surprise you, but the “Disney Princess” line really hasn’t been around that long. It just seems that way. My Thing One, who a few years ago was content enough to let her mother dress her up in pretty, pretty princess costumes, now thinks princesses and pink are yuck. She also thinks all the princesses in the “Disney Princess” line are like replicas of each other. Well, okay, she has a point there. Which is interesting, considering that the actual princesses (some of them aren’t even princesses in their stories) do have personalities in the movies. As Thing One said, “What the heck happened to Jasmine? She was kinda tough before.”
The answer is “marketing”. Little girls like being princesses. People are critical of this and often try to steer their kids away from such sexist notions. But I think it makes just as much sense as little boys wanting to be dinosaurs. Think about it – a princess gets to wear some awesome bling and have other people do all her chores for her. What kid wouldn’t like that gig? Also, just like dinosaurs, princesses probably get to go to bed whenever they darn well please because, well, they’re freaking princesses. I know I would still like to be a princess but my dinosaur husband is too busy stomping around to listen to me.
This is not to say that little girls can’t be dinosaurs (hello Rara!) or little boys princesses. At Thing Two’s fifth birthday party, we tried to give her boy buddy a more manly crown instead of the tiara all the girls got. He cried. So I gave him a tiara. He promptly slapped that thing on and chased the girls around with his magic wand he had transformed into a ray gun. Some things are just kind of ingrained, sorry.
Anyway, what I wanted to address was Disney’s fairy tales. (I got distracted by the princessy shiny things, so sue me!) How bad are they for little kids? Are they any better, or worse, than the original fairy tales themselves? I think a lot of people miss this part. Most fairy tales were originally told as warnings. For instance, in the original Little Red Riding Hood, she’s eaten by the wolf. The end. No kindly woodsman who just happened to be hanging around grandma’s house (which is sorta creeper). Nope, she’s dead. Because if you talk to strange wolves, you get dead. Lesson: Don’t talk to strangers. Sweet dreams, honey.
I loved the Disney fairy tale movies. They had incredible animation, great songs, and beautiful characters and scenery. No one looked like Spongebob and friends. I liked that. Now note I’m talking about the cartoon feature length movies, not the sequels or most of their live action stuff, which almost always sucks. But is this a good thing for kids to watch? Guess what? I’m here to give you my reviews. Keep in mind I also read the entire 50 Shades series, so what I find appropriate might not match what you find appropriate. You never can tell. But I think we’ll have fun.
Now most of these tales have certain themes in common.
Dead Parents: at least one of the parents is six feet under for some reason. Usually the mother. Disney hates mothers.
Bad Parenting: If the parents are alive, they aren’t that great. Either they marry stupidly (see Evil Stepmother Syndrome) or they are abusive, neglectful, or just plain stupid (see the Miller in Rumplestiltskin).
Good vs. Evil: Good is the innocent (ie dumb) princess. Bad is the parent, dragon, etc.
Cute Animal Friends: she’s almost always scarily good with animals who repay her kindness by making her clothes, cleaning her house, and not eating her.
The “Prince”: Either this guy comes in and rescues the princess, or in other cases, is the prize the girl gets for a lifetime of crap.
Happily Ever After: This usually comes in the form of a marriage. Cause everyone knows that marriage solves everything!
I’m sure there are more themes we’ll explore as I get into the stories. If you can think of others, let me know! Stay tuned for our first tale next time: Snow White and all those short guys.