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Death of the Disney Princess

Storytime with Snow White at the Disney Princess Storytime and Royal Manners theater at the D23 Expophoto © 2009 Loren Javier | more info (via: Wylio)

I don’t know if any of you have already heard this juicy tidbit of news, but Tangled may be the last princess movie Disney will make for the indefinite future. The rationale behind this era-ending decision? Girls these days just don’t want to be princesses. Making the typical “Princess” movie is now a losing bargain.

Now, I don’t think little girls have ever stopped wanting to be princesses, but that isn’t the point. The point is that Disney’s princesses defined whole generations of girls’ childhoods. They survived the explosive growth of feminism. Princess movies were popular for decades. Why are they dying off now? What does that say about how women see ourselves and what we want out of life? Let’s engage in some rampant, groundless speculation.

First of all, Disney princesses could be becoming less popular because there is something wrong with them. Disney princesses all share a certain set of problem characteristics. They are excessively gorgeous, often blatantly and directly perpetuating the idea that “good = beautiful.” They often – by which I mean “practically always” – lack a positive mother figure in their lives. Most importantly, all of the Disney princesses share one single goal – finding a man. Even the recently-written princesses suffer this man-crazed myopia. For example, most of the drama of The Little Mermaid comes from the ultimatum that Ariel has to win her man’s love within an absurdly short period of time or spend her life as an ugly anemone on Ursula’s floor. Belle cannot achieve her grand dreams of exploring the world without marrying the ex-Beast. And Mulan, after spending an entire movie kicking serious butt, has a rather abrupt if not completely unforeseen romance unceremoniously thrust upon her. Maybe Disney princess movies are less popular now because they don’t represent what women hope for anymore.

Of course this begs the question, is the princess storyline dead? Have we outgrown our princess love? Let’s ignore the slew of princess books for the under-seven set. What about books for us sophisticated types? Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to draw your attention to Exhibit A: the Twilight series. Continue reading Death of the Disney Princess