Friday, July 18, 2008
[got this off a spanish blog...I think it says "the frog princess...]
A long time ago I heard a rumor about a Disney movie that was going to feature a black princess, mercenarily because Disney had no African-American doll in its arsenal of "Princesses." Now I'm finding out that, yes Virginia, this movie is being made, but it's already starting to pick up a lot of controversy, because the story might be considered somewhat racist. Me, I'm waiting until it comes out in theatres, but if you want to read more, here's an excellent article about it. Basically, the story takes place in New Orleans in the 1920s and revolves around a black chambermaid and a white debutante, some voodoo, jazz music (of course) and apparently a prince of Middle-Eastern origin. Sounds interesting.
My biggest problem with the movie is not any of the ideas outlined in the articles I've read, but the whole idea that Disney is creating another "princess." I was madd as hell when they started marketing their heroines in a bunch, making Cinderella and Mulan hang out at the Princess Beach House and give each other pedicures. To me, the heroines of the Disney movies are unique, individual people, but Disney has, well, Disnefied them--actually, Barbified them might be a better term--so that they have zero individuality. A girl's favourite doll might be chosen simply because of the color of her hair.
Okay, full disclosure, part of the reason I liked Belle so much growing up was because she had brown hair--but also because she was smart, liked to read and walked around singing. Kind of like me. And brown hair influenced a lot of my decisions when I was younger, that's how I picked out my dog. Besides, Belle isn't even a princess. She's a commoner, one of us, who clearly is not going to let a royal marriage go to her head. My other favourite Disney princess, Ariel, is the same way--her royal birthright is hardly a factor in the movie. She certainly doesn't act like a princess, and the only time it comes in handy is when her father uses his kingly magic to give her legs. Both women were strong and independent and didn't spend their whole lives waiting around for prince charming.
My point is--I wish that Disney would stop turning their amazing heroines into mass-marketed junk. Even the dolls they sell today are wide-eyed, vapid shadows of their former selves. Don't believe me? Scan your nearest toy shelf the next time you're in Target. I don't remember Belle having doe-eyes. Disney should stick to what it did best and make good movies, great, strong female characters, and leave the rest of it alone. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go get my dinglehopper and sort out this mess on my head...