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Is Princess Culture Redeemable?

Women and Hollywood By Melissa Silverstein | Women and Hollywood March 27, 2012 at 10:57AM

I am extremely ambivalent about the whole princess thing.  If I never saw another princess anywhere it would be too soon.  But I live in the real world and write about Hollywood and Hollywood is infused with princesses.  In fact,  we've got two big princess movies coming down the pike this year.  This week's Mirror, Mirror and this summer's Snow White and the Huntsman.  I will never forget when I heard Geena Davis talk about her research on girls and the media, and how the research showed the most girls believe they can be princesses because that is basically all that they see girls doing onscreen.  Of course we all know that princess is not a job description and while there are very few princesses in real life, they seem to dominate girls lives on film.
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Maleficent

I am extremely ambivalent about the whole princess thing.  If I never saw another princess anywhere it would be too soon.  But I live in the real world and write about Hollywood and Hollywood is infused with princesses.  In fact,  we've got two big princess movies coming down the pike this year.  This week's Mirror, Mirror and this summer's Snow White and the Huntsman.  I will never forget when I heard Geena Davis talk about her research on girls and the media, and how the research showed the most girls believe they can be princesses because that is basically all that they see girls doing onscreen.  Of course we all know that princess is not a job description and while there are very few princesses in real life, they seem to dominate girls lives on film.

That being said, should we be happy if we get newer princess stories that can get strong messages and strong characters out of of the princess culture?  Would it be possbile to subversively infuse our daughters with feminist messages while they celebrate the princess culture?

The reason why I bring this up at all is that two of our female stars -- Reese Witherspoon and Angelina Jolie are embarking on projects with princesses in them.  Jolie is about to start shooting Maleficent in June (written by Linda Woolverton) where she plays the "evil" nemesis of Sleeping Beauty.  It's a look at Sleeping Beauty from the perspective of Maleficent.  It's about humanizing the "witch." 

Angelina Jolie has gone on the record with EW about how this film could be good for girls:

It sounds really crazy to say that there will be something that’s good for young girls in this, because it sounds like you’re saying they should be a villain. [Maleficent] is actually a great person. But she’s not perfect. She’s far from perfect.

The other princess project in the news  (and I'm sure there are others I have no idea about) is the new children's book series Pennyroyal’s Princess Boot Camp by M.A. Larson which Reese Witherspoon and her production partner Bruna Papandrea have picked up to develop.  Here's the description:

Princess Boot Camp is described as is a modern fairy tale about a school that shapes girls into warrior princesses to battle against an ever-growing terror of wicked witches.

Here's what Reese said about why she picked up the series:

Finally, there is a princess story that reflects the values young women truly want to embody...These princesses are strong, independent and fierce, and the knights are their match.

So what do you think?  Is princess culture redeemable?  Should we trust that we could see powerful princesses onscreen or is this just to be another trend that just pisses us off?

Reese Witherspoon Picks Up 'Pennyroyal’s Princess Boot Camp' (Hollywood Reporter)

Angelina Jolie on 'Maleficent,' crying her eyes out in Sarajevo, and her Oscar leg pop -- EXCLUSIVE Q&A (EW)


 

This article is related to: Reese Witherspoon, Angelina Jolie, Linda Woolverton, Geena Davis


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