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Monday, November 11, 2013

Taking Aim at Disney Princes

Yep, you read that right. Princes, as in the male half of the Twoo-Wuv equation.

I've seen scads of articles about Disney princesses and the problem with holding them up as role models. Besides the psychiatric disorders most of them exhibit (see this article and this one), people love to tear apart the defects in their characters (see this, this, and this for examples). I don't disagree. Most of those Disney princesses make me want to beat my head on the wall. Repeatedly.

How come we never pick apart the princes? I googled "problem with Disney princesses" and came up a boatload of articles dissecting their characters and (usually) pointing out why they are horrible role models for our girls. Google "problem with Disney princes" and I got back one, ONE, article and then a whole list of princess links. This articles is titled, "10 Disney Princes and Whether You Should Marry Them". I have issues with the article. Go read it and then we'll discuss.

Ready? Okay. My biggest complaint about the article is that marriage rate-ability is measured by physical hotness, which is no different than choosing a princess based on looks and we all know that judging women by their physical appearance is BAD and EVIL and WRONG. Why is it okay to do it to the men?

So here's my rundown of some Disney Princes.

Beast from Beauty and the Beast - Belle is one princess most everyone says is one of the better Disney princesses. But what about her Beast? He's selfish, abusive, and has massive anger-management issues. But the message of the movie is that if we just believe the best about them, they'll change. We can love them into becoming kind and gentle. Not a healthy relationship here. Belle would be better off marrying Gaston. He's a good provider, even if he is arrogant and self-centered. He at least offers her a nice house and a good living, instead of throwing her in a dungeon.

But what about Mulan? Chang is a great guy, right? Not so much. He's bossy, demanding, and a male chauvinist. But he's a product of his culture, you say. Yeah? So are all the princesses. Chang isn't that bad. Yao, Chien-Po, and what's-his-name are frat boys on a road trip. Turn the characters around here. If Chang and the gang were women, we'd be jabbing them with sticks, not making excuses for their prejudiced, immature behavior.

Eric, from Little Mermaid, was okay, wasn't he? I mean he plays a flute and has a dog. He also has no real character. He's a piece of moving scenery, just like most Disney princes. He's only there so the princess can have twoo wuv. Most of them have all the personality of a piece of cardboard. Prince Charming from Cinderella, Prince what-the-heck-was-his-name? from Snow White, Prince fill-in-the-blank from most Disney Princess movies. Most of them are so bland and forgettable that no one even notices them.

The Prince in Sleeping Beauty was a little better. He at least got to fight for his love, with the help of three little old lady fairies. Aladdin wasn't too bad, I'll give you that one, but overall the Disney princes are Ken dolls with just about as much personality.

The relationships are just plain unhealthy in most Disney movies. Insta-love abounds. Those relationships that they take the time to build are pretty unhealthy overall. Take some time and watch the movies. How many of them portray a prince and princess who take time to get to know each other, even a little, and when they do, have a balanced, mutually respectful relationship?

I can think of one shining example where the princess isn't a ninny with massive psychological issues, the prince isn't a selfish jerk, and their relationship is more than a glance across a crowded room. Robin Hood. Maid Marian is an accomplished woman with skills and intelligence. She's resourceful and strong in her own right. Robin Hood is an insurgent, but he's fighting for truth, justice, and King Richard. He's kind to orphans and widows. He only steals from bullies. He treats Maid Marian as a person and an equal. Let me repeat that: He treats Marian as his equal.

Yep, we finally have a Disney princess movie with a healthy relationship and role models of both sexes that are worth emulating. And they're animals, foxes to be exact. I guess we can't have everything.