Since the completion of that last period, Disney has gone back to the drawing board for their princess stories, releasing modernized tales such as The Princess and the Frog (2009), Rapunzel (2010), Brave (2012), and Frozen (2013). There was something remarkable and individually surprising about each of these princesses. Tiana has big dreams and the work ethic to reach them. She completes her dream even after getting the guy, giving viewable proof that marriage is not the end-all, be-all of happily ever afters. Rapunzel has an immense curiosity of the world, and doesn’t let being locked away in a tower keep her from learning a little about everything and having dreams. She defends herself with a frying pan of doom, magically heals some people with her hair, and experiences those floating lanterns she’d dreamed about… before smacking a kiss on her “new dream” (*wink, wink*). Brave focuses on Merida’s tumultuous relationship with her mother, instead of on the more conventional marriage plot. Merida ends up competing for her own hand, avoiding marriage, and giving an inspiringly diplomatic speech about love and choice that proves she’ll make a wonderful queen (and keeps the other kingdoms from feeling slighted over her lacking nuptials). Frozen tells the story of two princesses, sisters, and the magical secret that keeps them apart. Elsa has the power to control winter… or she would, if she wasn’t so afraid of herself. Anna is down to earth, more relatably clumsy, goofy, and giddy than any of the other princess movies my younger cousin and I have seen together thus far (no, really. We went to see the movie on opening day and kept hitting each other to hiss, “she is us!”). I shan’t say any more for fear of spoilers! This most recent generation of princesses is the culmination of a long line of predecessors who paved their way.
Tiana, Rapunzel, Merida, Elsa, and Anna could not have become the developed and inspiring role models for young girls without the trial and error that came before them. They aren’t perfect; to be so would undermine their ability to relate to their young audience. That’s why the extreme opinions of parents and academics drive me a bit nuts, they either make the princesses out as unable to do a single wrong or similarly unable to do any right. Neither the fanatics nor the nay-sayers leave room for the nuances of reality. Why are we applying adults’ ideals to children’s films, anyways? We should just let them enjoy the magic, and choose their own role models along the way. Find the middle ground and let every girl be a princess of her own creation.
Now, y'all know this isn't the end of my Disney obsession! You can be sure to see some more youtube video shares, princess analysis (hey, future roomie Colleen!), and themed parties/costumes...don't worry! (I know you got nervous for a second there) Besides, I haven't gotten to discuss Disney's badass not-princesses yet! If you don't know of whom I speak... you have some Disney films to watch!