CAROLINE SMAILES

The end of Disney princesses?

I am rather shocked by this one, but it appears that it’s going to be the end of an era, as Disney bosses have announced that they’re to stop making Disney princess animations! Apparently, it’s to do with not wanting to give a romanticised idea that the ‘man of your dreams’ can be out there.

I know that we live in a cynical, materialistic world, but are we now denying romantic dreams? Maybe I’m missing something here, but fairy tales have influenced my entire life. I believe in ‘the one’ (I know it’s not that straight forward and that it’s never Disney). I believe in a ‘prince’ rescuing me (in an utterly modern way). I really do believe and I’d quite like Littlest to believe too.

‘Beauty and the Beast’ is my most favourite Disney princess film. For one, Belle has brown hair and brown eyes (praise be for a non-blonde princess!), but also she’s different. I know that technically she isn’t initially a princess but her ability to see beyond appearance made me happy during some difficult years .

Maybe I see things differently, but the world of Disney gave me an escape from a really really crappy reality. I had hope that one day someone would love me for who I was. I know I’m simplifying matters here, but I do think that the strong messages behind some of the Disney films have really offered hope to a number of little girls and boys. Believe me, I have kissed MANY a frog in my days… (which is an entirely different blog post)

For those who don’t know the story of  ‘Beauty and the Beast, it’s set in and around a quaint French village during the late 18th century and follows the adventures of Belle. Belle is a bright and beautiful young woman who finds escape from her ordinary life, and the advances of a boorish suitor, Gaston, by reading books.

Meanwhile, off in a castle in the distance, a cruel young prince has been cast under the spell of an enchantress who has turned him into a tormented beast, while transforming his servants into animated household objects. In order to remove the curse, the Beast must discover a true love who will return his affection before the last petal falls from an enchanted rose.

When Belle’s inventor father stumbles upon the Beast’s castle and is taken prisoner, Belle comes to the rescue and agrees to take her father’s place. With the help of the castle’s enchanted staff, she sees beneath the Beast’s exterior and discovers the heart and soul of a human prince.***

SPOILER ALERT, Belle teaches the Beast to love!

Is this why the cynical Disney bosses are stopping princess stories? Do they no longer believe in love? Gosh, that’s a film waiting to be made, isn’t it?

So, come on then, help me out here:

  • Do you think that the search for a ‘prince’ and romantic dreams are outdated in this super cynical society of ours?

Because if you all do, then really, I think I’ll stick to making up my own realities (and possibly not killing off quite so many people). Oh, but don’t get me wrong, I don’t think that everyone ends up with ‘the one’, I’m not known for my happily ever afters, and I’m not talking about financial gain and security. This is about a moment when someone takes your breath away. I honestly believe that at some point in our lives our paths will cross with ‘the one’…

Discuss.

***And for you Disney-Geeks out there, the Blu-ray features of ‘Beauty and the Beast’ are a lot special (Beyond Beauty: The Untold Stories Behind The Beauty and the Beast, Composing a Classic: A Musical Conversation with Alan Menken, Don Hahn and Richard Kraft, Deleted Scenes, Enchanted Challenge: A Disney Quest Game and Bon Jour, Who is This? A Disney TelePlay Game and many more) and yes, I did watch ‘Beauty and the Beast’ AGAIN last weekend.

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19 Comments

  • Posted December 6, 2010 at 10:16 am | Permalink

    No. Not outdated. We need more dreamers and less cynicism. Male or female, prince or princess. Disney bosses may be thinking that dreaming is over, and that’s sad; for them – guess I’ll be buying all the old ones for my daughter. Took me a few goes ;), but eventually this beast found his princess…

  • Peters Sillett
    Posted December 6, 2010 at 10:52 am | Permalink

    I very I think it is a travesty that Disney are doing away with the fairytale princess concept I think every little girl needs a fairytale princess as a role model with the fantastic virtues that Disney always portrays in them.

  • Posted December 6, 2010 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

    They believed they made a masterpiece. But the public and awards disagreed so they blame the genre for the failure. Truth is, when you get the Princess story right it can make a lot of money….Shrek for example.

    At the weekend, Disney’s “Tangled” featuring Princess Rapunzel opened VERY BIG in the States with $50 million opening weekend, ousting Harry Potter from the number one slot, and gaining rave reviews across Hollywood.

    So maybe they will now change their tune about the genre…..

    • Posted December 6, 2010 at 11:05 pm | Permalink

      I wonder if she’s a strong female figure? Here’s hoping! And thanks so much for your intelligent take on it all.

  • Posted December 6, 2010 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

    I think this is really sad, but maybe not a surprise. The last few Disney films have been more and more geared towards adults and have lost a lot of innocence. And adults generally don’t believe in fairy tales anymore; they want fast and furious. Very cynical and money-orientated move by Disney. :(

    • Posted December 6, 2010 at 10:58 pm | Permalink

      You’re right – Up was devastating! I did love Toy Story 3 very much though. It’s all about money, it always is… it makes the world go around or something like that. And, for what it’s worth, I still believe in fairy tales.

  • Angela Powers
    Posted December 6, 2010 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    Fantasy and imagination are as important as any life skill a child should develop. Belle (of the Beast) takes charge of her own destiny and comes to the rescue. However, too many Disney films have the passive heroine, the Sleeping Beauty/Snow White/Cinderella waiting for the man to come and save her. It’s an outdated concept but equally unattractive is the Jordan and Rhianna template as a female role model.. Films like Shrek allow for fantasy AND the concept of ‘the one’ without making the female lead a swooning, subservient doll. More like that please!

    • Posted December 6, 2010 at 10:55 pm | Permalink

      Snow White lives with scary small men – it’s terrifying! I do hear what you’re saying. Littlest loves Belle and Pocohontas… it’s about role models, you’re right. I also think that Enchanted is ace, as it’s a spoof on the traditional princesses. I think we need to look at the more recent Disney princesses and how they’ve reacted to the changes in society. Feisty females are kicking back… I just wish the Disney bosses would embrace it instead of stopping creating new role models for children. I mean, seriously, we live in a society wear 7 year old little girls can buy padded bras… don’t get me started!

  • Posted December 6, 2010 at 10:28 pm | Permalink

    You’re going to hate me Caroline (please don’t hate me!), but I like my fairytales more Angela Carter and less Disney. This is nothing to with the sheer glorious explosion which can be falling in love, but there is definitely something unsettling for me in the idea of waiting to be rescued by a man. Plus it’s all about being pretty, which is a bit boring. Ugly sisters and wicked queens are way more exciting.

    I shall ready myself for the backlash,
    megan xx

    • Posted December 6, 2010 at 10:48 pm | Permalink

      Megs – Like I could ever hate you! And I think you’re assuming that I’m seeing things in a non-twisty way. I love Angela Carter very much and the Brothers Grimm (all my novels are twisted fairy tales)… I think the point with Belle is that it isn’t about being beautiful or falling in love with beautiful, it’s about embracing difference and being a strong independent woman. She steps forward to protect her father and she teaches the Beast about inner beauty and strength… it’s not at all about being pretty. I never really understood Cinderella, but I did love the darkness of Snow White (I mean, really it’s terrifying) and although without the depth of darkness, I think that Beauty and the Beast embraces difference and that’s somethign I’d quite like my daughter to do too.
      See, no backlash :) xxx

      • Posted December 10, 2010 at 7:38 pm | Permalink

        you’re right Caroline, that Belle is the best of the bunch, she’s got that great camp Julie Andrews thing going on for a start.
        And I do understand the fairytale undertones to your brilliant books, which doesn’t come anywhere close to Disney (it’s partly just the hugely corporate packaging nature of Disney that puts me off)

        But besides any of this, you’ll always be a bit fairy godmother to me,
        megs
        xx

  • Posted December 10, 2010 at 10:09 pm | Permalink

    I have to admit I am relieved my daughter is starting to grow out of the Disney Princesses stage and moving on to Horrid Henry, believe it or not. They are fabulous films but there is only so much Disney happy-ever-after I can take. Call me near middle-aged! My favourite is Enchanted where Disney takes the mickey out of itself by putting a typical Disney princess in modern day New York. Just brilliant!

  • Posted December 11, 2010 at 11:00 am | Permalink

    I’m really surprised to read this post because I was certain that the next Disney Princess would be modeled on our new Princess in Waiting. Disney please keep making Princesses for us all to enjoy watching with our children.

  • Posted December 21, 2010 at 10:28 pm | Permalink

    I so agree! And thanks so much for your comment.

  • Posted December 23, 2010 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

    My nieces are now 24 and 19 and we have been going as a family to Disney World, Florida, every December for the last 20 years (not this year, finances do not allow).

    Even now, they would not dream of NOT going to see ‘The Little Mermaid’,or ‘Beauty And The Beast’ shows, plus anything else going that includes any other character, Princess, or not.

    What an absolute load of rubbish these Marketing people spout. The Disney classics have always been built on Princesses and Heroes and I am sure that they are a lot more of a positive influence on the youngsters, than some of the stuff they obviously plan on churning out to replace it (The likes of ‘High School Musical’ etc.)

    Disney are certainly putting their reputation on the line here!!!

    Rant over, hope you have a great Christmas

  • Posted December 25, 2010 at 10:12 pm | Permalink

    You’re right – Up was devastating! I did love Toy Story 3 very much though. It’s all about money, it always is… it makes the world go around or something like that. And, for what it’s worth, I still believe in fairy tales.

  • Sheryl
    Posted December 1, 2011 at 9:38 am | Permalink

    You know they still haven’t done Thumbelina as one

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