With the release of “Tangled” this week, Disney Animation Studio is kissing farewell to all princesses. The studio, widely known for the princess castle in all of its branding, has decided that in this day and age little girls no longer want to be princesses, preferring to be hip and cool rather than girly. This was seen with “The Princess and the Frog”, when it became apparent that the title alone marketed the movie to such a small group of children, and box office numbers plummeted. In fact, the flop they experienced with that movie influenced much of the Rapunzel movie, causing a rewrite of the story to focus more on Flynn Rider, the male costar, and giving it a more gender neutral name of “Tangled”. According to Pixar Animation Studios chief Ed Catmull (who oversees Disney Animation Studios with John Lasseter), the only surviving parts of the original story are “the hair, the tower and Rapunzel.” And plans they had for remaking “The Snow Queen” and “Jack and the Beanstalk” went down the tubes in favor of ending the princess saga once and for all.
But are young girls really over princesses?
There was a time when Disney princesses took over the toy stores, the shelves laden with beautiful women in gowns that were snatched up right and left. These days, the princesses are still there. But they are surrounded by the characters from Toy Story, Pirates of the Caribbean, Nightmare Before Christmas, superheroes, and many other characters that are anything but princess. And these are what kids are gravitating towards. And the heroines of little girls? They lie less in princesses, and more in cool teen stars like Miranda Cosgrove and Selena Gomez, who possess a vibe that is nowhere near princessy and lean more towards a trendy tomboy-girly essence.
Still, it’s sad to know that the story of Rapunzel ends the stories of Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Ariel, Jasmine, Mulan, and all the other princesses who little girls once wanted to be. Sure, princesses were put forth as delicate creatures with great beauty. But these princesses empowered girls, giving the spotlight to women in stories, and eventually evolving to make them the real heroes of the story – saving rather than being saved, a trend that started with a little mermaid (my personal favorite of all the rebelling princesses) who wanted feet instead of flippers.
How do you feel about the demise of the princess? And do you have a favorite Disney Princess?