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.
I always wanted some cute animal friends. How great would that be? Sure I’d be the crazy animal lady, but that’s ok. They could clean the house while I just sit back and relax. Although, I’m pretty sure it only works if you sing for them.
I’m not sure they’d like my singing. Perhaps I could play a recording, something with a beat like “It’s Raining Men” and the birds and chipmunks would come racing to clean my house. Although it seems like they would just leave more of a mess, being animals.
There seems to be something with the “heroine” becoming incapacitated in some way. Ariel was voiceless, Snow White and the Sleeping Beauty lady were unconscious, Cinderella was locked in her room, Rapunzel was locked in a tower etc..
That’s the best way for a guy to get the girl, doncha know. Worked for Christian!
I always wonder why all parents “a long time ago” had 3 kids, mosty two evil like Damien and Dennis and one with a good heart (but without brain), was there any tax-reduction or was it just precaution because two were eaten anyway by a dragon?
Probably that’s how many they got before mom promptly croaked of Kill the Mom Disease.
I think they should start doing realistic movies. Happily Ever After rarely occurs. By watching this crap kids might assume that no matter what the ending is always happy.
Yeah, they rarely shows what happens AFTER the prince and the princess ride off together. 5 years later – this marriage is suffocating meeeee!
Exactly! And what of their demented offspring? Entitled little asshats.
Did you see the sequel to The Little Mermaid? Ariel’s little brat daughter is just as big a twit as she was. I want to be in the waterrrr, I want to be on lannnd oh sheesh. And how come she and Eric only had one kid? Did Ariel use the sponge?
Maybe salt water doubles as spermicide.
Let’s just hope no one gets crabs.
Right? Those things start singing annoying songs and whine all the time. They have weird accents, too.
I wonder if Ariel stuck to an all seaweed diet or if she caved and started eating her little ocean friends.
I wonder if she still dresses her hair using a fork.
Yeah and once she gets her voice back, Eric’s all wishing she’d lose it again.
Probably. She did seem a lot more intelligent when she couldn’t speak.
I never liked anything girly when I was young, so if princesses had been around, I probably wouldn’t have been impressed by them. That’s not to say I didn’t have Barbies. I did, and my brother and I often used them as kidnapping victims for GI Joe to save. So essentially, I was being equally sexist that way…
Haha! My girls enjoy tying their Barbies up in my honor cord from graduation and hanging them from the top bunkbed. Not sure what that means . . . .
Be afraid. Be very afraid…
You used to behead yours because it was easier than changing their outfits, as I recall…and you had a Disney princess on a part in your room until what, halfway through college?
On a poster. Not a part…
Nothing I can say would really add to this..lol
Did your daughter like princesses?
Yeah, but never remind her. 🙂
Haha! It could be fun ammunition someday if needed. Hey, honey, remember when you used to dress up in pink ruffles and tiaras?
So they outgrow the princess obsession? Really? Actually, I don’t even want that to happen, because I’m sure that whatever comes next will be worse.
Sometimes they outgrow it. Well, Thing One no longer likes pink or dresses, but she still is fairly princess-like. Chores? What? Oh I was just wandering off over here . . . And little sister likes dresses – with jeans underneath and a backwards hat on her head.
Or it factors into their choice of baby names…
It factors, but I also had to like the name.
Disney princesses never have to go to the bathroom, rarely eat (which partially explains the first part), and they are totally ok surviving in the wild by themselves (or maybe in a company of a cute talking animal)
And I’m pretty sure their clothes never get dirty and their hair never gets mussed.
Unless it’s sexy “I just rolled out of bed” mussed – which is still totally innocent cause Disney!
Could you imagine trying to pee or worse – that OTHER THING – in the woods in one of those dresses? Yikes.
And they don’t even carry toilet paper! They just have the dress and the cute furry sidekick animal…
The key is, no underwear. Then they can just squat down and no one knows what they’re doing.
I think you could guess.
If you haven’t you should look up Peggy Orenstein’s Cinderella Ate My Daughter. Made me look at the bright shiny princesses differently. As for the mother hate on – yeah – I figure it goes to giving kids something immediately understandable to be scared of – and no mom kind of sums it up.
Looking forward to reading more of this! I was never a Snow White fan – as a non blond, I didn’t like that I got the princess who mopped up after little guys like it was some sort of prize while waiting for my prince. No thanks.
Yeah – with two young daughters we’re pretty princess crazy at our house right now. And it’s mostly harmless – I think.
How old are your little girls? Mine are 13 and 9 and so far seem to have maintained definite I AM WOMAN personalities, so I think it’s okay.
I agree with you here and I look forward to your interpretations.
I like the original fairy stories. They’re delightfully gory.
So true. Did you see that Brothers Grimm movie? Yikes. That was a bit too much gore for me.
No, but I would like to at some point. I miss so many good films these days.