Disney kills off the princess

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?


7 thoughts on “Disney kills off the princess

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  1. My daughter loves disney movies, especially anything PRINCESS. I think that would be a horrible decision to follow through with ending the princess movies!!

  2. This makes me upset, girls should still be trying to be girlie and act like ladies. I know that people don’t want to put these stereotypes on them, but thats how girls learn to be girls. And I would rather have my daughter dancing around in a princes gown and lipstick. Then have her singing Miley Cirus songs and showing off her belly and crying over Justin Beiber like the three year old on you tube that I just saw a few days ago.
    Princesses have worked for a long time and I wonder where we will draw the line because slowly kids are becoming less kid-like. Little girls imitating princesses is a lot different then them imitating teenagers with sex appeal. But I guess Disney will make money either way because they market and breed just as many pop stars as they do princesses

    Personally, I’ll be turning off Nickeloden and searching e-bay for a VHS and some Princess dresses.

  3. Most of the little girls I know still want to be princesses/fairies/fairy princesses. I see no problem with mixing it up a little and maybe throwing something different in now and then, but I disagree with doing away with princesses all together, and I think that the success of future endeavors might reflect that this move is a mistake.
    Furthermore, I think Princess and the Frog or Frog Prince or whatever it was called failed because it WASN’T A VERY GOOD MOVIE, not because girls don’t want to wear floofy dresses anymore.

  4. I say good riddance. There is enough insecurity and vanity pushed on girls and women. The ‘princess complex’ creates unrealistic expectations while promoting patriarchy. Of course, I’d far prefer cartoon princesses to Miley Cyrus and Justin Beiber, but I don’t think princesses are part of a long-term solution. I’m glad we are moving toward a more gender neutral society.

  5. Disney does not always get it right: Black Hole, Tron etc.

    They are good at the basics and I, a guy, appreciate the P’s and knights and other types. I also like the tom-boy and gentler side of males too.

    Characters like parent trap or Pollyanna[sic] or nerdy guys translate.

    Disney will be back to the four squares. I doubt anyone would engage in a ride featuring the latest character, as compared to Pirates of the C rides or Princess rides…… there is a bit of old fashioned-ness that stays. EVEN if translated into moder day equiv. like Star Wars or whatever.

  6. srstudent — the Disney princess, IMHO aren’t, in general, particularly insecure or vain. Okay, yes, the ultimate end to the story is generally Getting Their Man…but there’s nothing wrong with a love story. Over all, the Princesses tend to be tough, smart and ambitious, girls who know what they want and are determined to fight for it, even if convention says that they shouldn’t — whether it be a chance to live away from home and try something new, the opportunity to use her brains and seek out adventure, or to avoid an arranged royal marriage and spend her life with someone that she actually has a connection with…just because they wear pretty dresses doesn’t mean they aren’t tough cookies.

    Now, I’m not saying that there is anything wrong with a little girl wanting a Buzz Lightyear backpack instead of a Pocahontas one (lets be fair…her movie wasn’t very good either) but a lot of little girls DO like princesses…and not because they have had pink pushed on them, but because they just LIKE princesses. I think Disney is going to realize it has made a bit of a mistake a few years down the line (or a genius moneymaking plan based on witholding and re-releasing, as one FB reader theorized) because a lot of girls want to rescue a dude in distress on a charging stallion…but they want to do it while wearing yards of taffeta. And some want to have tea parties and play with dolls and don tiaras, which is also perfectly fine.

  7. I am a feminist and yet my 2 little girls just love the princesses. My hat goes off to Disney for making movies all these years where a female character is the MAIN role. I have yet to see Pixar take this route. Sure, Jessie is fabulous, but she takes a back seat to the antics of Woody and Buzz. As society has changed, so has the roles of the princesses, hence Ariel and Tiana. Maybe Princes and the Frog didn’t bring in the cash (funny that it was also an African-American role, maybe some racist parents just didn’t want their kid to see it), but it portrayed a strong female who earns her way in this world through hard work, not by being saved. She teaches little girls that their dream can be something other than a man to marry. I thought it was a movie with a great message for my girls. I find it interesting that an exec of Pixar is making this choice for Disney – maybe Pixar can start making pictures that place female in the main role of the film. The Old Boys club don’t have to be that old, you know?

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