Monday, April 1, 2013

Five Disney Princesses! Disney Princes sold seperately

I think I just read my 12th article about Disney Princesses and how they're leaving a negative effect on little girls in a week. That is excessive.

I can't blame the article writers either... well except for the Hyper-Feminist Disney Tumblr I just went past, that page goes beyond misandry to the point where it churns my stomach. Very hateful & anti-men. But I digress...

We are at a point in society where people are just plain waking up.

The era in which these tales were mostly written passed us several centuries ago, so the tales are no longer relevant to today's children, no matter how much merchandise Disney pumps into it. Girls need to be told that their worth should not be boiled down to these ancient ideals of feminine obedience.

But mostly, it's the boys this article is about. I feel that boys are getting every bit as bad an impression on the earlier films as girls, maybe worse. But first, let's go back in time a bit.

When I was a little girl, there wasn't a Disney Princess line at all. We had merchandise lines that were based on different movies, not genres. So instead of seeing (let's say) Jasmine front and center for a "Princess" towel, she was instead in the background, for the Aladdin line. There were no toys that said "Disney Princess Collection" but there were plenty that said "The Little Mermaid" or "Beauty and the Beast".

And while it seemed plentiful, the merchandise was only out for a limited time. Any time I wanted something that expressly had Belle on it, my mom had to drive cross-state to find it. Everything Disney Princess related felt rare, unique and special, because back then it really was.

Now it's just churned out. You can't even take a walk down the street without hitting Princess madness.

But more to the point, boys back then LIKED these films. Boys would beg their parents to take them to the toy store, just so they could get their hands on Aladdin figures, because Aladdin to them was the archetypal young man. Sassy, street smart, brave, every bit a courageous fighter who ultimately gets the girl ~ based on his unique skills.

Little boys today want nothing to do with Disney Princes. In fact, most people are not even aware that Disney has a toy line for the Princes, unless they go to the Disney store. Instead, boys have goofy Cars characters crammed down their little throats, while they are being told that Princes are something "only girls want" and they're being told that a Prince is nothing more than a Princess's accessory.

Being told you're nothing but an accessory is just as detrimental to a boy's mental health, as telling a little girl that her worth fades should she leave the house without makeup.

These kids are smart, they know something is off with the Disney Princes, but when it comes to Disney movies, the boys know they have a choice. They can either look to the menacing oaf characters, the goofy sideshow acts, the cocky jock characters that have some life lesson to learn, or the Disney Prince characters their future wives will want them to be when they grow up. Well, no boy wants to be the menacing oaf, a sideshow act, or the jock with the bad attitude nobody wants around them, so that does leave the Princes, and boy do the ladies love to push the Princes onto the boys.

But just as I'm not comfortable with little girls aspiring to be like most of the Disney Princesses, I'm also not okay with the idea of boys looking up to the Princes either.

So let's go down a list of the first five Disney Prince/Princess couples, and see where exactly the problems start.

Why just the first five? Because they're on the most merchandise and have had their movies, sequels and prequels re-released the absolute most, that's why.

Film: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Couple: Prince (Charming?) and Snow White
Debut: 1937
In recent years, people who once adored this film now forbid their children to see it, not just because of the very frightening scenes with Snow in the forest or the Wicked Queen, but because Snow White is not really someone parents want their little girls idolizing. (Bear with me here.)

Snow White is obedient to a fault, taking orders from a wicked queen, who ~ if you watch closely ~ is likely responsible for the death of Snow White's father. The queen wants her to die, only because Snow is more beautiful than she is. Is Snow's beauty a threat? No actually, as obviously her beauty has yet to overthrow the queen, but the queen feels threatened anyway. You are pretty, ergo you must die. Snow has no problems talking to strangers and accepting strange foods from them, and the only time in the film where she shows any kind of gumption, is when she's bossing about the 7 Little People ~ in their own home ~ that they built and own legally. So the lesson here is that it's not okay to stand up to the woman that has taken over YOUR house, but it's okay to boss about little people in theirs. Also, obey what strangers tell you. Um, I have a problem with that.

But more, I see the damage the Prince has on little boys. First and foremost, he's an accessory ~ right to the point where his name is NEVER REVEALED!! In some of the film's posters, he's listed as "Prince Charming" but in most of the merchandise, he's known only as "The Prince". He's actually so useless in this film, that Walt Disney himself could not be bothered to dignify his existence with a basic NAME.

Codename: Prince is only seen twice in the film. The first time, the over-20-something just waltzes onto Snow's property, scaring the crap out of her, but then playfully sings to her, as she hides behind a curtain. That totally doesn't sound creepy, right? She fawns all about him later on in the film, but he doesn't see her again for a YEAR. The second and final time we see him, he's randomly walking through the forest, finds Snow in a casket and kisses her, thus bringing the corpse back to life (let's not imagine what she smells like) and then he puts her on a horse and just walks off with her. No conversation, no questions, just runs away with some strange, underage girl you found in a casket. He doesn't even ask her name!!

What does this teach little boys? Well it teaches them that it's perfectly fine to trespass onto private property to make advances on underage girls (Snow White by the end of the film is only 14) and it teaches them that both this and kissing corpses in the woods is fine. As long as they have good makeup and money, they can do as they please and still get the girl. It also teaches boys that they are an afterthought, and about as useful to her as a handbag.

As for the 7 hard working, extremely kind and gracious dwarfs? You know, the seven little men that let her take control of their cottage, eat their food and took advantage of them all movie long? Well... screw them. They're short, ugly and broke, so Disney didn't view them as being important enough for a "Happily Ever After" of their own. While Snow White and Prince Forgettable ride off to a castle in the sky (OMG IS THEY DEADIES??) the Dwarfs only make one more appearance ~ putting all of their jewels into War Bonds in a forgotten, public domain short from the early 1940's:

Oh, you thought I was kidding, didn't you? 

Film: Cinderella
Couple: Prince Charming and Cinderella
Debut: 1950
A second Prince Charming? is this guy a Disney Gigolo?? Let's see, wears makeup, is largely absent from a Disney film in which a princess fawns over him after he's contributed practically NOTHING to her life, no personality, dark hair, cinnamon lips, holy crap it IS the same guy. What are we saying, Disney?? How many baby boys are now named "Charming" because Disney warped they're mothers?

Well all joking aside, this film has also had it's share of criticism, and much of it is deserved. The film is rife with scenes of violent bullying, as Cinderella is tortured by her evil step family. But let's focus on the couple.

Cinderella does seem to have a flicker of an attitude during the initial "wake-up" scenes, but unfortunately she keeps it to herself, instead of unleashing it onto the woman who took control of HER house, HER inheritance, and won't go away. This is the second film here where the rightful heir to the house is playing maid and obedient house slave to a woman suspected of ~ ONCE AGAIN ~ killing said heir's father. Check the scene where Cinderella is weeping beside her father's body. Lady Tremaine is SMILING. But rather than use her status as a well-to-do heiress to obtain help, Cinderella obeys this psycho control freak and her two ugly crotch spawn, and spends the rest of her tween and teen years as a servant to the Tremaines.

Even for the day in which the film was to take place, this is very STUPID. Look Cindy, you're rich. This is YOUR house, GO GET HELP!!

Then there's Prince Charming. He has zero desire to see anybody remotely female, and only wants Cinderella for her glass shoes.

What does this say here? That he cares more about stripper heels than who's wearing them? Not exactly a winning start to "Happily Ever After" is it?

And he's fast. He doesn't even know her name, and won't remember her face, but he starts kissing on her and takes her to a "private" area of the castle. Ah... hmm...

Film: Sleeping Beauty
Couple: Prince Philip and Princess Aurora
Debut: 1959
So this is our first prince to be dignified with a regular name. At the start of the film, a 6 year old Philip is introduced to newborn Aurora, and informed ~ to his chagrin ~ that this is his future wife. He is in fact told that he has no options and no control over his life, and that his entire existence has been decided for him by his family, peers and by people he has never met before, in this instance, Aurora's parents. Look, I know about the historical significance of this scene, but I'm not sure how comfortable I am with it. Usually this leads to a rebellious scene in the film, but not here. Over the course of the film, he's reunited with 16 year old Aurora, and at the end, figures out that she is the same baby he was betrothed to when he was six, so he learns to just let other people control where his life leads and be happy about it.

In short, this film is teaching little boys to be totally obedient. That's disturbing.

But the consolation prize is that he's also the first prince to DO something, in that with the aid of the three fairies, he cuts through deadly vines and slays Maleficent, in order to save Aurora's kingdom.

Aurora ~ much like Snow White before her ~ is both admired and reviled for her beauty. The "Evil" fairy Maleficent (hmm, wonder if she knows Tinkerbell?) gets butthurt that she was ~ on purpose ~ not invited to a party, based around Aurora's birth. So she casts a spell on the baby, so that on her 16th birthday, she will randomly find a spinning wheel, prick her finger and die. Right, totally mature. So Aurora is sent to live in the forest with three women, and seems to grow up fine... except she doesn't really do anything. Everything happens to her, and she has no control over it. She is a perpetual victim.

And then of course there's the rescue scene. I'll let the graphic speak for me:
Moving on...

Film: The Little Mermaid
Couple: Prince Eric and Princess Ariel
Debut: 1989
Wow, where do I even start on this one?

First of all, I'd like to state that this film has made me respect and pity parents my mom's age and older, for they were all LIED to.

If you head to YouTube and look up Disney movie ads, you'll find that 99% of them are very misleading. All of the ads would have you believe that these films are innocent comedies, safe enough for a baby to enjoy.

With the exception of the Great Mouse Detective, there is not one 1980's Disney film that is 100% little kid safe, and this film from 1989 is high on the list.

I bet my mom had a "great" time with three year old me, when she was left to explain King Triton breaking everything Ariel owns, Ariel's sisters making fun of her, Sebastian trying to escape a French stereotype, Ariel naked on the beach and Ursula being stabbed to death with a boat, but the focus ~ and main issue ~ parents today have with the film, are with it's #1 couple.

Let's start with 16 year old Ariel. She is constantly sneaking out of the house to see the human world, and is always carting away "trinkets" she finds from above. Oh, lovely, our heroine is a curfew breaking pickpocket hoarder  Lovely. Well one day, she randomly finds a boat full of drunkards, and of course, Prince Eric, who is celebrating his 18th birthday.

Excusing Cinderella, who is 19 years old, there seems to be a pattern of underage princesses hooking up with adults. Hmm... anyway.

The ship is totaled in a sudden storm, and Ariel rescues him, making her the first princess to actually save someone and be heroic. Okay... step in the right direction... things are looking up-OH my God she's watching him sleep and is vowing to follow him. Aaaaaand now she's hording his stuff in a "secret grotto" under the sea. Oh crap, Ariel is now a curfew breaking, pickpocketting, hoarding STALKER, fighting with her dad, who she claims "doesn't understand" the importance of her obsession.

So over the course of the film, Ariel gets rid of everything that makes her special, permanently augments her body to please Eric, and then ditches her friends and family to live with him. Holy cow, how did this slip past the MPAA?? Oh, and don't get me started on the numerous sexual references.
Now we look at Eric. Much like Snow White and Aurora, Eric is obedient to a fault, and is a perpetual victim. Everything happens to him, and he lacks any type of control. He's stalked by Ariel, only to find her as a human on the beach later in the film, completely unaware that she's also been hoarding his stuff "Under the Sea". He is now responsible for her well-being, with little explanation as to WHY. And before he can even figure out what the crazy lady's name is, he's put under an evil spell by Ursula, and is nearly forced to marry her. Then when a flock of birds randomly appear to break the spell, Eric snaps out of the spell, just in time to see Ariel return to being a Mermaid, and get kidnapped.

Then what happens? He feels guilty. Not only does he feel compelled to stab Ursula with a boat for Ariel, he also feels obligated to marry Ariel... the psycho who's been stalking him all movie long.

I'm sorry... what?? How is this a strong film?? It's not bad enough we teach little girls with this movie that it's okay to ditch everything that makes you unique, drop your family and stalk people, but now we're telling little boys that it's okay to marry your stalker? NO!!!!

Film: Beauty and the Beast
Couple: Prince Adam and Belle
Debut: 1991
It should be noted that the Beast is never called Adam in the movie, but his name appears as such on most of the post 1997 merchandise.

So if you follow the first two movies, Prince Adam had a nasty temper and can't read. Ohhh, off to a jolly good start, aren't we, Disney?  One year on Christmas Eve, an Enchantress disguises herself as an old beggar woman, and tries to crash his pad. He refuses. She tries to give him a rose. He refuses. So she turns into a giant fairy woman. He tries to apologize for his behavior, but it's not good enough for her. So she curses everybody in his house. She never re-appears and at NO point does anybody ask who this crazy woman is or why she's trespassing on his property, trying to move in and just randomly cursing people.

Then it's revealed that while his flashbacks draw him as being older, he only has until his 21st year to learn how to love and be loved, in order to break the spell.

It's been 10 years.

That means this psycho didn't curse a random, mean spirited prince. She cursed an 11 year old boy, who likely had been hit by puberty. Did anybody else catch that?? Maybe that's why he's I dunno... a jerk?

Belle is really not much better off. She just moved to a town full of very stupid, rude and judgmental people, worst of the lot is Gaston, who spends 99% of the movie trying to force Belle to go to bed with him, going so far as to try an have her father tossed into the Looney bin. She winds up however living with The Beast as a bargain, after her father wound up lost there and was nearly killed for it.

The first half of the film is based around Belle sneaking around, and The Beast being controlling, threatening and abusive. For the rest of the film, she has her father, and all of the creatures in the castle, telling her to stay. "He's really not such a bad guy. He can change." they all chide, while on the flipside, everyone in town is telling her to shut up, stop reading books and marry Gaston. Belle is left with a choice between a furry abuser and a PSYCHO abuser. Nice one, Disney, let's tell every girl in the world that it's normal to stay with someone who treats you badly.

And the boys? Well the message here is that as long as you have lots of money, you can get away with murder... literally! And the richer you are, the less your looks matter.

It's hard not to appreciate these films for their animation style, and everyone reading this likely has a happy memory associated with these films, but overall, these first five Disney Princess features have very questionable underlying messages, and I can't say I could recommend them for impressionable kids. Even really smart kids could be damaged this way.

I have these films in my collection, and on occasion I study them for their art. But I have no desire to show them to a kid.

Maybe it's time we develop a new fairy-tale.

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