Disney. The name is a synonym for wholesome family fun. Disneyland, Disney World, Disney Cruises, Disney Movies, the Disney Channel on TV … they all conjure up the suburban middle-class, middle-brow, middle-American ideal. And yet, there is evil afoot coming from the people behind The Mouse. I am speaking, of course, of the Disney Princess franchise.
“He’s not going to attack Snow White, is he?” I hear some of you cry.
Hell, yes, I am.
Here’s what Disney has to say about the whole thing, “Disney Princess is a media franchise owned by The Walt Disney Company. Created by Disney Consumer Products chairman Andy Mooney in the late 1990s, the franchise spotlights a line-up of fictional female heroines who have appeared in various Disney animated feature films. The franchise is currently comprised of eleven female protagonists from ten different Walt Disney Animation Studios films and one Pixar film who are either royal by birth, royal by marriage or considered a ‘princess’ due to their significant portrayal of heroism in their film. Most of the unofficial Disney Princesses don’t join the line-up either because marketing is not successful, their film’s box office gross did not fare well, or they are too young.”
And here’s where I have a problem with them. Being a princess is NOT COOL. I have a grown daughter and a very new granddaughter, and I do understand the whole girly-girl thing. Dressing up, playing tea party and taking dance classes are perfectly fine. There’s nothing wrong with being a girly-boy either. The feminine side of every human is really quite fascinating. But that isn’t what being a princess is.
Disney has tried to instill, especially in the more recent films, a sense that these characters are self-reliant, brave, kind-hearted and lots of other virtuous things. And I wholly approve. It’s the 21st century, and these are good things for either sex to possess. But that isn’t what being a princess is.
Being a princess is being a social parasite. It’s not a job, not a profession. It’s a social position acquired through birth or marriage (and not, despite what Disney’s marketing people will say due to “significant portrayal of heroism”). A princess, or a prince, doesn’t actually contribute a thing to society. Quick, what did Princess Margaret or Princess Anne actually ever do for Britain? On second thought, take your time, use Google, I don’t think you’ll find anything at all.
Yet we have a multimillion dollar operation out there telling our little girls that it is not only OK to be a useless ornament socially, but also that it is something to which one ought to aspire. I find it particularly appalling in America, which was founded on an anti-monarchical basis. We have no kings nor princes, no queens nor princesses (although Duke Ellington and Earl Warren did make an impact).
Nor are the Mouse’s Minions the only ones to blame. The Brothers Grimm set up a lot of this nonsense with their very medieval fairy tales, as Thomas Pynchon put it, “Slaves dream not of freedom, but of becoming masters.”
Cinderella doesn’t just tell her stepmother and stepsisters to go to hell and leave. Oh, no. She finds a prince, marries him and escapes thanks to the unearned social status of her new husband.
If I were telling the story, Cinderella gets married, but the taxes the prince must impose to pay for the ball and the wedding are so heavy the people rise up and overthrow the social order. After a quick trial, the prince is executed as an enemy of the nation, and Cinderella gets the same treatment as a class traitor (the sexes are equal henceforth). The people establish a republic, and they live, not happily ever after, but rather as free men and women who decide their own fates.
Now, there’s a fairy tale for you.
Jeff Myhre is a contributing journalist for TheBlot Magazine.