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Degenderizing Disney

by Melissa Silverstein
March 17, 2010 3:06 AM
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I find it pretty hysterical that the folks at Disney are freaking out and changing the names of their movies so they don't alienate boys who won't come and see a movie with the name princess in the title. Of course they would never freak out if girls weren't coming to the movies. Disney believes that The Princess and the Frog did not do the numbers it should have is because boys won't go see a movie with a princess.

But keep in mind that girls will see a movie with a prince in it because, you know, he is a hero. So even five year olds know that girls in movies aka princesses are not as worthy as princes.

So folks Rapunzel, is now Tangled. Last time I checked the word Rapunzel is not princess. So what's the problem? I guess it's more that the titles. It seems that there were too many films with girl leads. We can't have that. Now that Pixar is fully integrated into Disney it didn't take too long for the girls to be toned down and the boys to be given higher visibility. Pixar has never been known as a girl focused studio. They hadn't hired a single female director of their films until this year when Brenda Chapman was hired to helm The Princess and the Bow which will be voiced by Reese Witherspoon.

Concluding it had too many animated girl flicks in its lineup, Disney has shelved its long-gestating project The Snow Queen, based on the Hans Christian Andersen story. Snow Queen would have marked the company's fourth animated film with a female protagonist, following The Princess and the Frog, Tangled and Pixar's forthcoming The Bear and the Bow, directed by Pixar's first female director, Brenda Chapman, and starring Reese Witherspoon.

The Disney folks only have themselves to blame. They are the ones who took all the female characters from their films and repackaged them in a pink box with a pink bow and set girls afire. And they made a ton of money. Walk by the Disney store and you can't help but be overwhelmed by the princesses that are everywhere.

I for one am happy that princesses are banished from the titles. Princesses make moms of girls who don't want their daughters to be so focused on those types of things crazy. I know, my sister is one of them. She is fighting with all her might to free her daughter, my niece, from the pink box that so many girls live in. (Don't get her started on the pink Dora softball mitts that the girls play with.) But I don't want to see strong, smart and independent girls to disappear along with the princess titles, because we know that girls are so much more than princesses.

One good thing that could come out of this is to socialize boys at an early age to see films with feisty female characters -- what ever the title. If they start to see and respect girls and women from an early age on film, maybe 20 years later when they are buying a movie ticket on a Friday night they might look at a film with women a bit differently.

Disney Wrings the Pink out of Rapunzel (LA Times)

h/t Margot Magowan

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