THE DISNEY PRINCESS MODERN CULTURE REFUSES TO SEE

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There’s rarely a week that goes by that I don’t discover something in culture that makes me pause and wonder, why? What we’re talking about today is the idea that cinematic heroines from millennial’s childhood are terrible influences. When it comes to the princesses some of us grew up knowing, they
tend to get the raw end of the deal. A Disney princess and modern culture don’t seem to get along. They’re made fun of and considered anything but a strong female. Thinking on this, I do wonder, why aren’t Disney princess characters considered strong women?

Clips have recently resurfaced of a dated interview Kiera Knightley gave about the films her daughter isn’t allowed to watch. Two of them being Cinderella and The Little Mermaid. I’m not dissing Knightley’s choice to select what her daughter watches. That’s being a good parent. It’s not even that these are two films her daughter cannot watch. What I do take issue with is the reasons why her daughter cannot see Cinderella or The Little Mermaid. The former is “banned” because our heroine waits around for a rich dude to save her – gasp! The latter isn’t allowed because Ariel gives up her voice for a man, and that’s a no-no.

DISCUSSION | IN DEFENSE OF ROMANTIC COMEDIES THAT ARE DIFFICULT TO COME BY

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Since when is this all we see in a story? There is a great deal more to these stories. Do these films gloss over the romance? Sure. It doesn’t develop so that we see the progression of the love story. That is a
flaw.

Irrespective of this, the idea that all Ariel or Cinderella wants is a man is strange. Yes the movies depict a romance and yes, both girls’ crush on a cute dude. Still where is this idea that this is all they want come from?

Ariel wants adventure and to explore and to experience life outside of what she knows.

Cinderella too wants an experience and to be able to go to the ball. She wants to dress up and enjoy a night out.

Both girls have dreams.

Someone said to me once, “I don’t know, Cinderella, you know she needed a man in her life to get along.”

I think all girls identify with her in a certain way. She was kind of funky, she accepted life as it was, and went after things she wanted. I think she was a spirited girl and I don’t think she needed the prince. I think she wanted to go to the ball. – Ilene Woods on Cinderella

Ariel does crush on a boy and yes this likely in part shapes her decision to spend time on land, but where are we getting this is her sole motivator? The entire film shows her joy at the discovery of this other world. She experiences everything uniquely while also falling in love.

When did we start to say the dream of one thing has to come at the expense of the other? I think that’s sadder than having an objection to a character’s romance. One dream doesn’t always have to cancel out the other. Let’s also not forget that Ariel saves her “rich” dude.

It’s so odd to me to be so opinionated and determined to uphold women in one way but refuse to uphold them in another. It’s also strange to see someone finding Ariel and Cinderella offensive as examples of strong females. Especially since they aren’t bad caricatures. No matter where we fall, one thing I do know is as far as elevated and cultural female characters or voices go, neither of them are anywhere close to the worst example of championed examples of women.

What are your thoughts on this? Do you think any of this is worth talking about? Did you see Knightley’s interview back in the day? What is your opinion on Ariel and Cinderella? Do you thing the Disney princess and modern culture gets it? Do you think Disney created them as romance obsessed? Comment all the opinions. Let’s talk about these things.

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About Rissi JC

amateur graphic designer. confirmed bookaholic. bubbl’r enthusiast. critical thinker. miswesterner. social media coordinator. writer.

2 comments

  1. I recently watched The Little Mermaid and I actually did realize how weak she is in general. Like during the final fight, she literally just sits on a rock and stares at everything happening. It made me laugh how useless she was during it …. but I still loved that movie as a kid. If I had a daughter, I would let her watch it because there’s also friendship in there and a lesson of “hey, don’t make stupid deals because you’re going to hurt the people you love” lol

    What I don’t like is this trend of kind of shitting on the housewife. Which I feel criticisms of these type of movies kind of do…and then it bleeds into other areas. I’m a stay at home mom. It’s something that I’ve had to defend to others throughout the years even though I’m incredibly proud to be a SAHM and homemaker. And it doesn’t make me weak.

    anyway, just a mini almost incoherent rant from me lol hope it made sense!

    Molly @ Molly's Book Nook recently posted: 7 Books I Want To Read To My Son
    1. I appreciate the thoughts and comments, Molly and don’t think it’s incoherent at all. :) I didn’t re-watch the film (and I know I probably should have but I have seen it MULTIPLE times through the years) but did rewatch the clips of the beginning and Eric’s rescue. I don’t remember the final fight honestly. Well, other than Ursula being wicked. ;) I do think that there may be some instances I would agree that Ariel has issues as heroine but I don’t think she’s the worst heroine in “children’s” movies. Just as she also isn’t the strongest. Many Disney movies have good lessons and I think some of them are actually better than what they produce today. And I agree. I don’t like the critical voices against women who make a choice to raise their kids. That is a BIG job and for some, it’s also the RIGHT job. I love that you’re proud to be a homemaker and mom, and 100% agree. Anyone choosing this isn’t weak. <3

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