Monday, May 9, 2011

Forget the Princesses, It's the Disney Princes I Have a Problem With

 Many people like to complain about the pervasiveness of the Princess Culture. While those Disney princesses are everywhere, enticing us to buy our little girls everything from backpacks to Spaghetti-Os, my problem's not with them. Generally I find the princesses to be delightful, smart, kind, pretty and fashionable young ladies. There's no fault in Snow White's darling Jackie Kennedy-esque flip, or Cinderella's timeless ball gown. And her ability to accessorize with that black choker? Flawless. Not only are these gals beautiful but they're charming and witty to boot. Ideal role models. No, my problem's not with the ladies but with the loser princes Disney's created for these poor girls. Prince Charming? Prince Charmless, more like.

Recently, I was watching The Princess and the Frog with my daughter and I couldn't get over what a zero Prince Naveen was. Really, Disney? You pair a gorgeous, smart, talented and ambitious young girl with a rude jerk who has no job, money or marketable skills to his name? They only thing he seems to have going for him is his empty title of "Prince." Since this young girl lives in New Orleans, not Old Europe, what's a title going to do for her? Nothing. It won't be some grand entrance into society, allowing her to lead a life of happy luxury. No, Disney just saddled Tiana with a man who will need her to take care of him until the end of time. Blech! She would have been much better off with a hard-working chef or even a busboy to help her get the restaurant of her dreams up and running.

My reaction to Prince Naveen got me thinking about the other Disney princes though, and I realized he's just the latest in a long line of suitors with issues. Royal lineage aside, none of them is a young man I'd willingly give my daughter's hand in marriage to. Let's take a look, shall we?

Snow White. Here's another, delightful, fair, young woman who winds up with a very questionable suitor. Dealing with a witch of a step-mother, Miss White is run off from her home and finds herself charming woodland creatures and caring for a group of unkempt, coal-mining midgets. As if this fate weren't bad enough (surely she could have found someone to take her in that wouldn't treat her like an unpaid scullery maid), the Queen places a spell on her, making everyone think Snow White is dead. The Seven Dwarfs place her in a coffin for an extended wake --of course they're grieving, it's not like they're going to find anyone else who will perform slave labor for them. After a while, the prince shows up and kisses her, breaking the spell. I have two issues with this "happy ending." Number One: I'm sorry, but in real life, any guy who kisses a corpse in a casket is just downright creepy. I suspect that even Dexter would think that is the hallmark of a disturbed individual. Number Two: Where was this prince when she got run off and was caring for the little men? A real man would have helped out a lot earlier.

Cinderella. Again, a beautiful, sweet, charming gal who is able to happily converse with woodland creatures, despite the ill treatment she receives at the hands of her step-mother and ugly step-sisters. Our gal gets decked out to the nines, Pretty Woman-style and heads off to the ball. The prince, of course, falls in love with her. Except, this Prince has such bad eyesight or is otherwise so dim-witted that he can't remember his true love's face the next day. Seriously? She's the love of your life, dude, yet you can't remember what she looks like? Any gal wearing a size 6 1/2 in your Kingdom will have to do because you can't recall anything else about her - what you talked about that night, the sound of her voice, how she smelled, let alone what her general features were? Cindy, just dump him already - he's not worth your time.

Rapunzel. I'll keep this one short but any guy who's not bright or resourceful enough to bring a ladder with him when he goes to rescue his true love out of a tower is too dumb to bother with. He knew she was locked in a tower and his best plan was to climb up her hair? What if she'd recently gotten a bob or a pixie cut? Besides, I don't care how long and strong your locks are, it would hurt to support a grown man's body weight with your scalp. Rapunzel, it's time you let a real man appreciate your gorgeous tresses.

Ariel. If my memory serves me correctly, Ariel was the first of the "spunky" princesses. Beyond the sweetness and light characters before her, Ariel's a modern girl with some sass and spunk. Throw in her trademark red hair and you've got a gal I could be friends with. Prince Eric doesn't seem to be as bad as some of the other princes but I do question him falling in love with a girl who can't speak and doesn't seem to understand the basics of functioning human society. Honestly, she didn't even know what a fork was for. So, while he might not be as dumb as the others, he's definitely shallow as it's clear from her lack of speaking ability that he's only into her based on her looks.

Belle. This one's right there in the title. She's a beauty. He's a beast. Not only is he not human but he's beastly in both appearance and demeanor. Yeah, he'd had some rough breaks but so did Cinderella and Snow White and you didn't see them getting all pissy about it. No, they remained sweet and charming regardless of the crap life threw at them. Yet, once again, they force the lovely, charming, musically-inclined Belle to fall for this monster. Grr.

Jasmine. I think Jasmine seems to have fared the best of royal girls. Maybe it's because her suitor's the one who got top-billing in the movie or maybe it's because she had the good sense to fall for a commoner and not some worthless prince. Yeah, Aladdin has his ethical dilemmas but he comes through in the end and does the right thing by Genie. He's also resourceful and clever but again, this is probably because he's not actually a prince but a mere "street rat."

What gives, Disney?! Why would a corporation go through such trouble to create such wonderful (not to mention marketable) heroines and spend so little time developing worthwhile suitors for them? It also makes me wonder why it is that the princess debates are so off-track. Parents shouldn't be worrying that Disney's indoctrinating their daughters to want to become princesses, they should be worrying that Disney's somehow convincing their daughters that they should expect so little in a life partner.


  1. Fantastic post! You're so right (esp. about that fab black choker!) - Naveen IS a zero! I would never want my daughter to marry him! And I loved this movie and that princess was a good change-up from the "rescue me" princesses before her - but there was something wrong, and you've put your finger on it: Naveen was a big lame-o! Anyway after reading your post not sure I'll ever be able to watch a Disney princess movie again w./out analyzing the prince - and that's a good thing!

  2. Awesome post! What's your take on Sleeping Beauty's Prince Phillip? They randomly meet in the woods and fall in love, but neither Sleeping Beauty nor the prince seem to bother learning each other's names. Later, en route to meet the princess a 2nd time, the prince is kidnapped by the evil witch, fights said witch and wins, and wakes the princess with a kiss. I always thought he was one of the more proactive princes, as far as the rescue-me maidens are concerned. But honestly, all the Disney prince-princess relationships are sort of messed up.

  3. Thanks gals! Angela - I honestly don't remember Sleeping Beauty that well, which is why I didn't include it. I did look it up online and thought that on the face of it, he seemed to be better than the others. I might have to try and re-watch it though, I'm sure he has some flaw ;)

  4. LOVED this one!!! I hope you don't mind but I just posted to my fb wall. :)

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  6. January Dawn - Thank you! Not only do we not mind, we truly appreciate it!!!


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