What Disney Taught Me About Gender Roles

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I don’t write about patriarchy as often as I could, or should. Male privilege is still a constant force in our society and one that needs to be called out and addressed as much as ever.

Say what you want about Disney these days. The company is so big, it’s hard to even hammer down a real identity. It seems like they’re doing good things. I met Bob Iger once; he seems like a swell guy. But for as different as Disney may be today as compared to the past, one thing hasn’t changed: the princesses.

Despite all the new movies that have come out over the decades, the Disney princesses reign supreme over the Magic Kingdom. Heck, they even showed up in the Kingdom Hearts video game! I mean, I think the mere fact that I can say “Disney princesses” and you know pretty much exactly which characters I’m talking about is telling. In fact, we know them by name: Cinderella, Belle, Ariel, Snow White, Jasmine, and Aurora (aka “the one from Sleeping Beauty”). Disney also counts Pocahontas, Mulan, and Tiana (from that new frog movie). Oh, and if you’re curious, Mandy Moore will be providing the voice to Rapunzel later this year. All we need is another damsel in distress.

Disney makes a lot of money off of these princesses, and I think it’s disgusting and awful. I’ll let this wonderfully snarky image (hat-tip Boing, Boing) do the explaining:

The image is funny, but only because the statements are true.

The Disney Princesses are, in my opinion, horrible role models, but they unabashedly reign supreme! Just take a look at Disney’s Parenting a Princess page. It’s pink and purple and submissive all over.

A lot of people think we’re way past gender roles, and the truth is we’re holding onto them tighter than ever. It’s like we want gender equity, so long as women can still be dainty and men can still get away with rape. Sound a bit too drastic?

Think about the prince’s messages:

Mmmmmmmmmmm, Stockholm syndrome!

It’s no wonder Disney doesn’t have a franchise for its princes. They’re entirely unappealing characters; it’s much harder to hide the fact that they are contributing to the oppression of women. They’re often called the “hero,” which seems to imply that if they save the woman, they deserve her. The only real thing I think they have going for them is that they’re hunky.

So, to all you Disney aficionados out there. I know. Disney is magical and awesome. I’m with you.

But can we stop endorsing such archaic gender roles as ideal models for youngsters? I feel like they deserve better.

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There are 32 Comments to "What Disney Taught Me About Gender Roles"

  • Jen Galbraith says:

    Well said.  You have my total agreement.  And I both gagged and had to get a quick insulin shot when I checked out that ‘how to parent a princess’ page.  You probably ought to have a disclaimer, something like ‘this link is safest if opened only with a side of Glucotrol’.
    I’m no freaking princess and very glad of it!

  • Angela says:

    I really should have known better but I couldn’t help myself….I went to the Disney Princesses site. And found numerous comments there about the “independence and strength” of the princesses and how they “are all very strong and determined women.” Ugh! Do these parents seriously think these are great role models? Clearly they don’t understand what is really being modeled here.

  • Meee says:

    The princes aren’t bad characters, they’re non-characters. Aside from Alladin, can you even remember the names of any of those characters without looking them up? “The Beast” isn’t his name, either. Hell I can’t even remember if his name is ever actually revealed.
    Disney doesn’t just have the princesses as bad role models, basically all the characters are.

  • ZackFord says:

    I think a few of them are memorable and a few others aren’t.

    I think most people remember Prince Eric from The Little Mermaid and Prince Phillip from Sleeping Beauty. Cinderella’s Prince is not named, but is sort of code-named Prince Charming, and Snow White’s prince is totally nameless.

    The Beast is apparently Prince Adam, according to a CD-ROM tie-in game called The D Show.

    Don’t you think it’s also odd that all of the princes except Aladdin are named “Prince ____” and Jasmine is the only princess commonly referred to as “Princess _______”? I guess it’s because all the others had to be saved by the man before they could become princesses. They’re only princesses thanks to marrying into wealth and royalty.

  • Meee says:

    I’m not saying both sexes are equally dumbed down/stereotyped in the films. The “princesses” are always kinda stupid, moreso than the male characters. I just dislike it when the princes, or the male characters in general, are glossed over. They’re also stereotypes, ridiculous ones, and not just in their interactions with the princesses. The point I was making about their names is highlighted in your response. The male characters are so unimportant that they don’t even get a name. They’re a prince, they’re hot, they’re manly as hell and they’re rich. That’s all you need to know.
     
    That said, the princesses characters are not likely to change. They’ve built up a pretty big empire around the concept, and they’ve done it because it works. The princesses aren’t the way they are simply out of sexual or gender stereotypes (although that *is* a lot of it), the princesses are generally kind of bland and subservient also because it makes them a better hole for girls to project themselves into. The same way Bella from the Twilight novels is basically there simply to react to Edward; it lets women/girls/probably some men project themselves into the role easier because the characters themselves actually *do* very little. They set up the situation then just ride on a wave of reactions. If the princesses were the dominant ones, they’d have to be written making loads of decisions and being in charge and such, which makes it far harder for someone to fantasise about being in their position. It’s not just a sexist “women mean nothing without men” thing.
     
    It’s still kinda crap, though.

  • Muffins says:

    I find your opinion pretty frustrating. I think you are trying to stir up conflict just for the hell of it.
    There is a reason that Disney has continued to use these characters for marketing purposes despite the release of many other movies. These are characters from five of the best Disney films of all time, and they also rank as some of the best Disney movie characters there are. Snow White was the first full-length animated feature that Disney produced, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty were created during the golden years of the Disney studio before Walt Disney died, and The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast are from the second golden age. These are films that are important to both Disney and cinematic history. Frankly, I can’t name a really good Disney film past The Lion King. I would rather have my kids watch Snow White and Cinderella over Lilo and Stitch and Tarzan. I think you’ve overlooked the fact that these are multi-dimensional characters who are courageous, talented, resourceful, caring, and beautiful. Let’s not forget that these are centuries-old stories, and not all great literature is kid-appropriate, and I think Disney has done a good job of softening theses fairy tales. I think your opinion is way off, and it’s neither here nor there.
    On another note, I think America would be a better place if MORE girls and women wanted to look like Disney princesses and less like Ursula. I find obese people very unpleasant to look at.

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  • ZackFord says:

    Cinematic history? Sure. Important for young children to see? NO.

    I think they are some of the most simple and shallow characters ever written. They are not courageous (they all need saved because of trouble they get themselves into), their talent is cleaning, and all they care about is their looks.

    I think you have no foundation to paint them as good role models for anybody, but you know what? I appreciate your comment. We’re allowed to disagree.

    I do agree that obesity is a problem, but so are eating disorders. Those princesses tend to be pretty damn thin. Again, I question the value.

  • Muffins says:

    I’m interested to hear what movies you think would be good for kids to see. I still think you are off with your estimations of their characters. Watch the movies again with an unbiased outlook and try to see how well-written they are. The movies are worthwhile because they are good stories, feature great characters (villains and supporting characters included), and are fantastic works of visual art. As a musician, I hope that you can appreciate the quality and subtlety of the musical scores, including the use of Tchaikovsky’s ballet music in Sleeping Beauty and the enjoyable blend of classical and popular styles in the scores of Alan Mencken, which I think are the best Disney scores there are.

  • ZackFord says:

    Listen, I have no problem agreeing that they are works of art and were even cinematically groundbreaking. I definitely appreciate all of the artistry you described, and I do think they deserve a proud pedestal in a movie museum. And of course, I grew up listening to Disney music and I still cherish it.

    All I’m saying is that those characters are bad role models for kids.

  • Shirley says:

    Hey all 🙂
    I am mother to a 5 year old girl. There’s no avoiding princessmania so I’ve stopped stressing about it. She loves Dora above all and that’s cool with me. But, I know what you mean. I try to put her off getting the princess magazine as often as I can. The stories are so utterly rubbish in those magazines and the big reward at the end is always something like getting to bake cookies for one’s prince (seriously).
    What I try to do is emphasize the good aspects of the films. For example, Belle is one of Ana’s favourite princesses and something boingboing didn’t point out was that a large part of her appeal is in her refusal to conform to what a woman ought to be in her community; she does not lust after the brainless prince Gaston (in fact she totally turns him down), she is thought of as ‘weird’ because she loves to read and wants to travel etc.  In the newest film (Princess and the Frog) Princess Tiana’s biggest ambition is to run her own business- this hasn’t escaped Ana who played ‘running my own restaurant’ for weeks after seeing it.
    So I think it’s right that the industry is sexist and I do have a major problem with the magazines (and this will only get worse as Ana gets older, magazines for tween and teen girls are generally really shit), but I think there are better aspects that can be emphasized if your little girl really loves to dress up and take part in the stories. Not sure what else choice there is really. We live in a society which has already caused my 5 year old some consternation when people have told her she can’t play with ‘boys toys’. I overheard my mother telling her that Toy Story was ‘for boys’ (really glad I heard that one as she loves Toy Story so I was able to voice dissent from that view immediately) and both her grannies constantly buy her pink outfits and stories about ballerinas because they are so freaked out that I like to buy her colourful clothing and let her watch Ben Ten. But it’s a constant thing from all angles. I wish Disney didn’t join in but I don’t think banning Disney princesses from our house would be feasible, even if they were the only company who did this. Bad role models are everywhere and I think maybe how we deal with this is to encourage the good.

  • ZackFord says:

    I definitely agree with your points about Belle.

    The problem that I see is the same old cycle of patriarchy: Disney Princess Sells. Disney markets princesses -> Girls want to be princesses -> Disney sells more princesses -> etc. And the cultural saturation is so severe that it’s inescapable. (Advertisements for Disney Princess products are now showing up on my blog!)

    Similar to the conclusions drawn in a big NYT piece from a few years ago, when Disney Princess is all you see, it feels like all you get. Girls get the message it’s the ideal and you have to push past it all to show her other options.

  • Muffins says:

    What’s wrong with girls wanting to be strong, feminine, and pretty individuals? I think most women are OK with being partnered to a stronger man, that’s just the way our society works. While a lot of women may disagree with that statement, look at the guys that they want to date/marry!
    Also, Pocahontas and Mulan are not included because those movies just were not that good.
    Zack, I’m still waiting to hear what movies you think children should be watching.

  • shirley says:

    Zack, I know what you mean and I agree. I hope I am trying to show Ana other role models. I do feel that while there are still so many real individuals who will make women feel like outsiders if they’re not ‘pretty’ or expect them conform to certain ‘feminine’ behaviours then we’re fighting a losing battle. But frankly, fuck it, we’ll fight on anyway. Ana loves Dora and she met a woman with purple hair the other day so she now wants purple hair, she loves writing and drawing and dinosaurs, cars, puppies, Lazytown, Winnie the Pooh, the spinny thing in the park, Toy Story, swimming, Scooby Doo, pantomimes, Erasure, candy floss and clowns. And princesses. So we’ll work on the princesses 🙂

  • Lisa Ansell says:

    My daughter is 3, in the middle of the ‘Princess Phase’ and I agree wholeheartedly.
    When I objected to the Disney Princess thing, I was accused of seeing things that aren’t there. My daughters father let her watch Snow WHite- I can’t think of another brand that would get a man to show his daughter a film so gruesome and misogynistic- and he regretted it soon after.
     
    She is in the middle of the Disney Princess phase-which by the way they are making a lot of money out- selling not much of value to children-and I am counting the days till it is done.

  • ZackFord says:

    Muffins, I still don’t think your argument is convincing. “Strong” does not describe the Princesses, femininity reinforces men’s power over women, and pretty reinforces body image issues and objectivity. The message that women need a stronger man is probably the most oppressive message young girls can get. (Also, check out the Princess page for yourself—Mulan and Pocahontas are considered princesses.)

    There are PLENTY of other good franchises for kids. I grew up on Sesame Street, Shining Time Station, Mr. Rogers, Nick Jr. shows like Eureka’s Castle, Muppet Babies/The Muppet Show, and The Elephant Show, and Nicktoons like Doug and Rugrats. Shirley gave some other great examples. There is also a lot to love about Disney without worshiping the weak, fragile, needy princesses whose stories end when they get the man. Ugh.

    Wouldn’t it be grand if princesses could be fierce instead of being so damn dainty all the time?

  • Shirley says:

    Oh scratch that. It’s here 😀
     
     

  • Muffins says:

    Zack,
    I would like to try to have a somewhat more respectful debate about this. Some of the things that I said I realize were not quite appropriate, and I would like to take time (while I am not under the influence of several beers) to discuss this point further.
    Firstly, I agree with your recommendations. They are all excellent franchises for children. However, these are all TV shows that you listed, and almost all of them are no longer in syndication. I had asked you to recommend movies. There is a difference; personally, I believe that watching films is better for improving children’s attention spans. Animated features are great because they are much longer than TV shows but still manageable for a young child to sit through. So, I would be interested to read your movie recommendations. I’m guessing you are probably on board with Pixar films? I think that Pixar has been quite successful at using innovative story telling that doesn’t rely on the classic fairy tale paradigms. However, (and the I know what follows is a very personal attitude and not the opinion of most of the general public) despite enjoying every Pixar movie I’ve seen, I’ve never really had the desire to watch any of them multiple times, like I have with the classic hand-drawn films. Personally, I just find the hand-drawn films to be more entertaining to watch. I guess it’s similar to the fact that there are great things that can be done with computers for music, but a computer still can’t quite replace a real person making music with the real instrument; like the hand-drawn movies, it just seems more human to me. (I know this isn’t quite parallel to animation) That’s why I am glad that the hand-drawn films are still very much a part of our culture. As a side note, while I agree that eating disorders are also a big problem, don’t you agree that obesity is a much more far-reaching and severe problem? Also to Lisa: do you think that maybe you and your ex-husband’s (I assume that you are either divorced or were never married since you say “daughter’s father”) huge discrepancies in your parenting styles are a bit more damaging to your three year-old than watching Snow White? Just sayin’.
    Now on to both of our points about the characters of the princesses and their strength as role models. I would like to point out that after your responses, I actually sat down and thought about each character and film. I did take your opinions into account, and yes, I agree with you that Disney often has a tendency to reinforce certain gender stereotypes. I do hope you notice, though, that from the 30s to the 90s, there has been a change in the treatment of the princess characters. Ariel, Belle, and Jasmine are a lot stronger characters than Snow White, Cinderella and Aurora. Here is a summary of my findings:
    Snow White- Snow White is banished from her home for being pretty. Her evil stepmother is vain, jealous, and obsessed with being the prettiest. (Wait, does that mean that the villain in the story is the one who only cares about being pretty? Is Disney telling us that only being interested in your looks is BAD??) She befriends a group of social rejects who live isolated from everyone else, and in return for their kindness to her, looks after their house and entertains them. She also enjoys singing and dancing.
    Cinderella- She is also punished for being pretty and kind. Again, her stepsisters are the ones only concerned with looks. Cinderella tries to make the best out of a bad situation by singing and dreaming about things being better. She meets the prince at the ball, and they fall in love because they connect with each other.
    Aurora- Aurora does not grow up like a princess. She grows up humble, and has to learn to cook and clean like a normal person. She cares about the three fairies and helps them out. She comes a across someone that she likes, and when she finds out she is a princess, she rejects the idea of having an arranged marriage.
    Ariel- Ariel is adventurous and curious. She wants to learn about things beyond her world, and keeps a huge collection of artifacts from that world. She wants to discover the world beyond the sea, and also wants to fall in love. In fact, Ariel saves the prince first in the movie before he returns the favor at the end. Ariel is also a talented singer and performer, and at no point is she shown cleaning anything.
    Belle- I think you and Shirley have both covered a bit about Belle. Let’s not forget that she is also takes care of her father, and sacrifices herself to save them from the beast. Also, she falls in love with the beast because she learns to see his inner beauty, and in the end it is she that saves him.
    Jasmine- Like Aurora, she also rejects the idea of an arranged marriage; in fact, she sends her pet tiger after her suitors! She runs away to escape the oppression of the palace. She also tells Aladdin that he doesn’t need to pretend to be someone more important for her to like him, and is upset when she finds out he has lied to her. In the end, it is Jasmine who marries Aladdin and saves him from his destitute life on the streets.
    So, I hope you can understand how there is more to these characters than cleaning and being pretty. Maybe they are the best role models, but I find the opinion that these films should not be shown to children to be ignorant and ill-informed.

  • ZackFord says:

    Hey, Muffins, Thanks for your detailed comment.

    I want to start by reminding you I’m a single 24-year-old man, so I am not actively tuned into what is being marketed to young kids, especially girls. I think both Pixar and Dreamworks offer some great movies for young kids, and I agree there is value to the attention span of a film.

    When it comes to Pixar vs. hand-drawn, I have to say I’m the complete opposite. I find that Pixar films have deeper and more compelling plots. I have many of them on DVD and even at my age enjoy watching them over and over again. My personal favorites are Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, and Wall-E. I don’t remember the last time I watched one of the hand-drawn ones, and even though I could sing you many of the songs from them, I have little interest in watching them again. It’s all a matter of taste, but I don’t think these distinctions make or break any argument in relation to the princesses.

    Having read your perspective on the characters, I am still not convinced that the princesses are worth upholding as models. My perspective is informed partly by the fact that we already live in a patriarchal culture, so I consider the films by whether they reinforce current patriarchal messages, an admittedly high—but fair and appropriate—standard.

    Snow White – Why do we care about Snow White? She’s already a princess, she’s the prettiest in the land (because that’s important), and she’s treated like crap by her stepmother. She cleans in the castle, then she cleans for the dwarves. She’s saved when a prince kisses her because she’s pretty. At no point in her life does she get to be an individual. She’s weak, she’s gullible, she’s virginal, and aside from her bubbly spirit, she has NO redeeming qualities or sense of independence. What is there to look up to her about?

    Cinderella – Just like Snow White, her only redeeming qualities are her bubbly spirit and her looks. She dreams of what? Going to a ball and meeting a prince. Such aspiration! Of course, she gets there (but not even by her own determination—she needs help from animals and fairies), and the prince is smitten, but as I recall they don’t even exchange a word. Yeah, he likes her for her brain. And her redemption for being victimized, like Snow White, is she gets the man in the end. Shouldn’t every girl dream of a Prince Charming who’ll sweep them off their feet (for their looks) so they never have to work or think? That’s what “happier ever after” is all about! What is there to look up to about her?

    Aurora – As you say, she grows up cooking and cleaning, like a proper woman should. She and the prince fall instantly in love, which means even though they knew nothing about each other, they were ready to screw (except it’s a Disney movie). Phillip actually has to work it to save her (he must’ve REALLY wanted to get his piece), and of course, her prize for being a gullible twit like Snow White is a handsome prince to marry. And it’s okay that it’s an arranged marriage, because they met for five minutes in the woods and fell in love, so they choose to marry each other anyway. How convenient. Oh, and she’s in the film for about 18 of its 75 minutes, but she’s the one we look up to? Why?

    Ariel – Ariel has to be the worst. Yeah, her curiosity’s nice, but goes by the wayside once Eric’s on her mind. Falling in love is apparently SO important. (You gotta have a man to take care of you, right?) It’s so important that she gives up her most amazing talent for a chance to meet him. Then, she’s such a twit that she doesn’t even know how to play charades or write a note to communicate with him. (I guess princesses don’t really need to learn to read and write, right?) If that were me, I’d make it quite clear that an evil sea witch was after me. And in the end, she gives up everything from her life, including her body (Eric wouldn’t want to stick his dick in a fish vagina, now would he?) just to be with the man, because he’s THAT important. Ugh. Probably the only reason we don’t see her cleaning is because there isn’t dust underwater.

    Belle – We’ve covered her. She reads, she’s independent, and she doesn’t care about looks. She’s ok.

    Jasmine – You know what? I’ll give you some credit for your argument about Jasmine. Aladdin’s the worse role model, by far, although Jasmine is still presented as the aspiration and the prize and is not made a hero by her own accord. And lest we not forget her perfect hourglass figure and revealing garb. I’ll give you some points for Jasmine, but I still think there are some valid concerns.

    I still hold that these films are not good for children. None of these women represent anything close to the reality young girls will experience. They are all either born into wealth or acquire it through men they’ve barely met and because of their beauty; none actually work to achieve their goals. In a sense, the princesses are just objects—prizes—including the ones we even respect a little. Teaching young girls to want to be glamorous so men will want to claim them is a horrible message that in some ways is just as bad as it was 60 years ago. The films reinforce submission and dependence, and Disney makes a crap load of money off of it. It’s sad, and I think we can do much better by our young women.

  • Shirley says:

    Want to step in and offer a book recommendation here. Women and Desire not only offers feminist discussion of Freud’s ‘what do women want?’ question (Freud? Or Lacan? Anyway…) but it also does a great job of reimagining  Greek myths where originally the women were played out not unlike the Disney Princesses that Zack describes here. I would totally recommend it for anyone interested in feminist psychoanalytic perspectives on relationships.

  • X9 says:

    I just REALLY want to clear something up from the beginning of the paragraph at the bottom of [this] response. In NO way does the technique (hand drawn) or technology (computer reliant animation) affect a story’s plot or make it any more compelling. That’s like saying “the cooler it looks the better it is” – which is ironic considering your original post, given your stance on the need for substance over superficiality.

    I personally prefer Pixar’s films because they have superior plots but I also prefer Disney’s hand drawn, frame by frame, method. Pixar couldn’t do what it does if it’s animators did not know the basics of animation, which begin with the hand drawn method.

    Pixar is not better because it’s computer reliant. It’s better because the stories, on their own, are better. So in that regard, I agree.

    (As far as the princess debate, I am for the most part, on your side. All I can say is that Belle continues to be my favorite princess. Also, although the princesses may not be the best of role models there are still girls and women, like my sister, who adore these princesses but would never actually live or aim to emulate one. Also Pocahontas and Mulan actually are “new” princesses. They were only recently considered and now marketed AS princesses)

    “When it comes to Pixar vs. hand-drawn, I have to say I’m the complete opposite. I find that Pixar films have deeper and more compelling plots. I have many of them on DVD and even at my age enjoy watching them over and over again. My personal favorites are Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, and Wall-E. I don’t remember the last time I watched one of the hand-drawn ones, and even though I could sing you many of the songs from them, I have little interest in watching them again. It’s all a matter of taste, but I don’t think these distinctions make or break any argument in relation to the princesses.”

  • FeministHater says:

    You all just need to get over yourselves! You are overanalysing everything. I am curruntly conducting a study of gender roles in Disney films throughout history and I am getting sick and tired of stupid feminists arguing about everything and complaining about every minor detail! I am just sick of feminist all together! Men don’t complain nearly as much as women do about these things, and I am a female so I am not being biast. Plus, I grew up on Disney films, and I still watch and adore them, and I am not sitting, waiting for my prince. I also LOVE action films, so Disney has had little influence in shaping who I am today. Did you ever think of raging about romantic comedies, films that teenage girls watch and are heavily influenced by, probably more than little girls are influenced by Disney films. I’m just sick of all the Disney hate, the films are made for entertainment purposes, just enjoy them and stop analysing!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • ZackFord says:

      If you don’t think that Disney films, action films, and romantic comedies all promote patriarchy to pretty similar degrees, then I’m sure this study of yours will be totally informed and unbiased.

      If you hate women who stand p for themselves and don’t recognize the complete irony of pointing out that men don’t stand up for women, it sounds like these films influenced you just a bit more than you thought.

  • sherene says:

    Hello 🙂

    I love disney princessses but I believe they are not very good role models.

  • Agnete says:

    I’m totally pro-Disney. I have one thing to say. You all sound very bitter. And about Ariel and how horrible it is that she gives up everything for this man that she is in love with – I find it very beautiful. Why show kids a harsh immage of the real world and how misserable it is? They’ll understand that soon enough. I agree that the prince is a boring character but that is because the story is not primarilly about him. Ariel gives up everything to get what she wants – that’s pretty daring.

    Now I understand completely you cynics. If you’ve never fell in love and risked everything and got the boy/girl you loved I totally understand your bitterness. But it does happend. And I think Disney movies are great espessially for kids to watch.

    But you gyes go on and agree on how horrible it all is. Doesn’t make you happy.

  • claire says:

    hi guys i’m doing a research project in how disney movies reinforce negative gender and racial stereotypes and would love to hear you feedback and if you had time if you could fill out my survey i would so appreciate it
    thanks
    https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/viewform?formkey=dHlvcHR6ODFQWkVuZVJOVi1tdHlla3c6MQ

  • Joseph says:

    What is with the “Disney Princesses are bad role models” crap? They’re fictional characters; they shouldn’t be role models. Go teach your kids ethics and morals or, at least, find a real role model they can look up to…or would that be way too difficult for parents? I guess shoving a kid in front of the TV is a lot easier than having to deal with them.

    The statements are also exaggerations and even untrue for these characters. I’ll just use Ariel and Eric as examples:

    * “It’s ok to abandon your family” – Her father was a racist asshole who nuked her belongings. I don’t think he’s a bad character; in fact, I think he’s one of the most interesting characters in a Disney film, but he did push Ariel to the edge. It’s not like she intended to leave her family forever either.
    * “drastically change your body” – Does anyone expect a mermaid to just drag herself everywhere? A mermaid becoming a human, so she can walk on land, is in no way comparable to plastic surgery. Don’t even try to pull that one off…
    * “and give up your strongest talent” – She never seemed particularly happy being forced to sing. Just because her greatest known talent was singing doesn’t mean she had to become a singer. She was far more interested being an “archaeologist/anthropologist” anyway.
    * “Once he sees your pretty face, only a witch’s spell could draw his eyes away from you” – At their first meeting, when Ariel is a human, Eric is only drawn to her because she looks like the girl who saved his life. The second he finds out she can’t speak, and thus not the girl he wants to find, he loses interest but does grow to love Ariel as he realizes that waiting for the mystery girl just isn’t going to work.

    Now for Eric: “Women have nothing important to say.” OK, this right here proves that whoever made this has not watched the film. The fact that Ariel can’t speak is the main reason Eric doesn’t instantly fall for her. He believes that she isn’t the girl who saved his life and, like I mentioned earlier, he grows fond of Ariel because waiting for the mystery girl is a waste of time when there’s this really great girl living in his castle.

    These films have flaws, like any other film, and you can freely criticize them for those flaws. Just don’t make up crap so you can complain about Disney and our “poor, helpless children.” It makes you sound like one of those religious fanatics who will criticize anything by saying “What about the children?!”

  • Caitlin says:

    First of all, Disney owns Pixar. They are the same thing. So any thing Pixar makes is Disney-made.
    Second of all, I love Disney. I love the songs and the characters and the stories and the magic. I have always loved Disney. Never have I ever noticed any of the negative things you guys have pointed out until the last few years when everyone decided to jump on the Disney-hating bandwagon.
    I never hear people up-in-arms about Kesha’s “Get Sleazy” Tour, or the guys on Jersey Shore wanting to find girls who are “down to fuck” or that models weight 23% less than the average woman or that all of Rihanna’s songs are about how she likes rough sex and most (definitely not all) rap music played on the radio are about strippers and weed.
    There are SO many more important things that are fed to kids and teens every day, all the time and are so much more detramental to how they view themselves and their worth.
    Disney is about magic, about dreams coming true. I think every girl should marry a prince, no girl deserves to be stuck with anything less than someone who adores her. I know what you’re going to say, “But they only love them for their beauty!” Yes, this is true, but I understood, even from a young age, that beauty is not what counts, it’s what’s on the inside. That is a value that should be tought by parents, not movies.
    Also, I would also like to point out that none of these princesses got their princes because they were slutty or easy or hooked up with every guy in the kindom or wore tons of whoreish make-up. None of them obsessed about their beauty or tried to be beautiful. I think society made beauty being skinny and provactative and trashy and Disney made beauty something that resonated from the characters’ kind, gentle personalities.
    Also, these movies were made in the freaking 1950s, 60s, and 70s. EVERYTHING was sexist and objecitfying to women back then, not just Disney. And these movies weren’t made for that purpose or as some kind of propoganda.
    I’m so glad you said Mulan is a princess. She has and always will be my role model. My children will watch that movie. She is such a strong, powerful, independent, smart, woman in a time period and place where behavior like hers was punishable by death.
    Of all the little girls I have ever known and of all my femals friends, not one of them has ever said that these princesses taught them to be submissive, to wait around for their prince, or that beauty is the key to everything. Not one. And these girls are different weights, heights, races, and backgrounds, What we got from these movies was that magic can exist in the real world for anybody and that dreams to come true. So while your points are valid and true, that’s not what any girl I know ever got out of a Disney movie. Why souldn’t every girl consider herself a princess? I believe that is what Disney is out to teach, every girl is a princess.

  • Jay says:

    princess and the frog? Pocahontas?

  • Yumpo says:

    @Caitlin I watched from some documentary that even though Disney owns Pixar, Pixar apparently do their story independently. The only thing Disney does is reject or accept the works Pixar submits. So it’s basically just Disney-trademarked-sponsored and as far as I recall, they don’t touch Pixar works. That’s why X9 and Zackford said they preferred Pixar because they make their own story without Disney having a hand on it. Though that’s how I remember it. I could be wrong.

    Documentary: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1059955/
    -It’s available in Netflix if you have an account- XDD

  • MAry says:

    Lima Syndrome…beauty and the beast. (:

  • Anne says:

    I need to point out that Snow White(1937), and Cinderella (1950) and Sleeping Beauty (1959) were made back during the time that woman’s role was to cook/clean/get married/have kids. I mean just look at Peter Pan the entire story is about “mothering”

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