Disney Princesses

Posted: October 4, 2013 in Movie Rants
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Hey everyone, and welcome back to another exciting installment of Then Ninja Jedi. Expanding on a Facebook conversation I had last week, today’s subject is: Disney Princesses. You may be asking, “Robert, why do you, a 28-year old man with no children, care about Disney princesses?” Well the answer of course is “Shut your face, Disney is a cultural icon, and there are some major inconsistencies in the Disney Princess line that need addressing.”

Before I proceed, I’m going to put a pin in the obvious. The Disney Princess brand is thoroughly researched and vetted by a brain trust of marketing gurus and child psychologists, and is engineered by these soulless executive types to make the most money possible through sales of toys, clothes, lunchboxes, and anything else pink. So I don’t want to hear any comments about that being the reasoning for the lineup, I already know it.

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s first look at the current lineup of Disney Princesses.

The official list is Snow White, Cinderella, Aurora, Ariel, Belle, Jasmine, Pocahontas, Mulan, Tiana, Rapunzel and Merida. But there are some real issues with this list. Some of these girls are not in fact princesses, and one is not properly a Disney character. I’d say of this list, the percentage that should be on the list is about 2/3.

“What do you mean they’re not all princesses?” Here’s my reasoning: Snow White, Cinderella, Aurora, Ariel, Belle, Jasmine, and Rapunzel can stay. Snow White, Aurora, Ariel, Jasmine and Rapunzel are shoe-ins because they are royal by birth. And despite being mundane things like scullery maids and bibliophile inventor’s daughters throughout their films, Cinderella, and Belle can stay because they married princes, either during or canonically after their films.

Pocahontas, Mulan, and Tiana, get kicked out for never being princesses; Pocahontas was a chieftain’s daughter, which isn’t the same thing, Mulan was never remotely considered a princess, and Tiana married a prince who abdicated his position. Merida shouldn’t even be in the conversation because she’s a Pixar princess, not Disney. Yes, Disney owns Pixar, but to be a Disney Princess, you should have to be in an official Disney theatrical animated feature.

What I take issue with even more than the non-princesses in the lineup is the legitimate princesses from Disney features that aren’t included, most notably Eilonwy from The Black Cauldron, and Kida from Atlantis: The Lost Empire. Two actual, royal-born princesses that are never mentioned.

What about Maid Marian? Well, that’s a different issue as well, but I think we’re getting ahead of ourselves. What we need to do is first set some ground rules for who is and isn’t a princess, and then look through the list of films and determine if each female lead should be included or not.

Here’s my proposal: “Official Disney Princesses” should include female characters from Disney theatrical animated features, who either by birth or by marriage, legitimately hold the title of princess at some point. Simple enough. Now to determine who’s in and who’s out, let’s go down the list:

 

Film: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Release Date: 2/4/1938
Female Lead: Snow White
Is she a Disney Princess? Yes
Should she be Disney Princess? Yes
Notes: Officially, Snow is the evil queen’s stepdaughter, making her royal by birth. She also presumably marries the unnamed prince in her “happily ever after” as was the cultural expectation of the time.

Film: Pinocchio
Release Date: 2/9/1940
Female Lead: N/A

Film: Fantasia
Release Date: 1/29/1941
Female Lead: N/A

Film: Dumbo
Release Date: 10/23/1941
Female Lead: N/A

Film: Bambi
Release Date: 8/12/1942
Female Lead: N/A

Film: Saludos Amigos
Release Date: 8/24/1942
Female Lead: N/A

Film: The Three Caballeros
Release Date: 12/21/1944
Female Lead: N/A

Film: Make Mine Music
Release Date: 4/20/1946
Female Lead: N/A

Film: Fun and Fancy Free
Release Date: 9/27/1947
Female Lead: N/A

Film: Melody Time
Release Date: 5/27/1948
Female Lead: N/A

Film: The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad
Release Date: 10/5/1949
Female Lead: N/A

Film: Cinderella
Release Date: 3/4/1950
Female Lead: Cinderella
Is she a Disney Princess? Yes
Should she be Disney Princess? Yes
Notes: She was a scullery maid throughout most of her life and the film, but in supplemental material, it is confirmed that she weds Prince Charming, making her a princess by marriage.

Film: Alice in Wonderland
Release Date: 7/26/1951
Female Lead: Alice
Is she a Disney Princess? No
Should she be Disney Princess? No
Notes: She was a repressed Victorian schoolgirl on an acid trip. Presumably of a higher social status, based on her manners, but never a princess.

Film: Peter Pan
Release Date: 2/5/1953
Female Lead: Wendy
Is she a Disney Princess? No
Should she be Disney Princess? No
Notes: Upper class Edwardian-era girl, being raised to be a proper woman with motherly ambitions. Again, never a princess.

Film: Lady and the Tramp
Release Date: 6/16/1955
Female Lead: Lady
Is she a Disney Princess? No
Should she be Disney Princess? No
Notes: I don’t think dogs count.

Film: Sleeping Beauty
Release Date: 1/29/1959
Female Lead: Princess Aurora
Is she a Disney Princess? Yes
Should she be Disney Princess? Yes
Notes: Royal by birth. Easy.

Film: One Hundred and One Dalmatians
Release Date: 1/25/1961
Female Lead: Perdita
Is she a Disney Princess? No
Should she be Disney Princess? No
Notes: I ALREADY SAID DOGS DON’T COUNT.

Film: The Sword in the Stone
Release Date: 12/25/1963
Female Lead: N/A

Film: The Jungle Book
Release Date: 10/18/1967
Female Lead: N/A

Film: The Aristocats
Release Date: 12/24/1970
Female Lead: Duchess
Is she a Disney Princess? No
Should she be Disney Princess? No
Notes: Cats don’t count either. Even if she weren’t a cat, her name is not a title of nobility.

Film: Robin Hood
Release Date: 11/8/1973
Female Lead: Maid Marian
Is she a Disney Princess? No
Should she be Disney Princess? Probably not
Notes: Despite Robin Hood being fairly popular, she may or may not be an actual princess. Canonically, she is King Richard’s niece (though obviously not Prince John’s daughter), but she’s never referred to as a princess in the film. If we look at actual history, King Richard the Lionheart never wed or had an heir (which is why the ‘evil’ Prince John eventually became King John). If Marian isn’t niece by marriage, she must be the daughter of one of King Henry II’s other children, of which there are several. Were Marian the daughter of, for example, Matilda, Duchess of Saxony, she wouldn’t be in the direct line of the throne, as regency was still passed solely to male heirs at that point, making her intelligible for the title of “princess”. However, we are discussing anthropomorphic cartoon foxes, so I’m not sure what bearing British history would actually have.

Film: The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
Release Date: 3/11/1977
Female Lead: N/A

Film: The Rescuers
Release Date: 6/22/1977
Female Lead: Miss Bianca
Is she a Disney Princess? No
Should she be Disney Princess? No
Notes: She’s the Hungarian representative of the Rescue Aid Society, not even remotely a princess.

Film: The Fox and the Hound
Release Date: 7/10/1981
Female Lead: N/A

Film: The Black Cauldron
Release Date: 7/24/1985
Female Lead: Eilonwy
Is she a Disney Princess? No
Should she be Disney Princess? YES, Definitely.
Notes: She is LEGITIMATELY A PRINCESS. Royal born, full title: Eilonwy, Princess of Prydain. I don’t care if it sucked in the box office, this was a great film, darker than most Disney fare, but worth watching, and Eilonwy should make the cut.

Film: The Great Mouse Detective
Release Date: 7/2/1986
Female Lead: N/A

Film: Oliver & Company
Release Date: 11/13/1988
Female Lead: N/A

Film: The Little Mermaid
Release Date: 11/15/1989
Female Lead: Ariel
Is she a Disney Princess? Yes
Should she be Disney Princess? Yes
Notes: PART OF YOUR WOOOOOOORLD – Now we’re getting into the modern era of Disney. The little Mermaid was an important turning point in animation history; it was the first film Disney made with the now-familiar Broadway musical structure, and it was the first film that was edited after animation. Previously, the films were all scripted and storyboarded shot for shot so there would be no wasted animation, but the director knew the film would work better with some tweaks, which pissed off the animators, but made the film an instant classic. Regarding Ariel, she’s King Triton’s daughter. Obviously a legit princess. Likely also the reason for my affinity for redheads.

Film: The Rescuers Down Under
Release Date: 11/16/1990
Female Lead: Miss Bianca
Is she a Disney Princess? No
Should she be Disney Princess? No
Notes: Sequel to The Rescuers. Bianca’s still not a princess.

Film: Beauty and the Beast
Release Date: 11/13/1991
Female Lead: Belle
Is she a Disney Princess? Yes
Should she be Disney Princess? Yes
Notes: Though never mentioned by name on-screen, the beast is referred to in supplemental materials as Prince Adam. And since Disney’s conservative-values-friendly “happily ever after” equates to marriage, Belle is a princess by proxy.

Film: Aladdin
Release Date: 11/11/1992
Female Lead: Jasmine
Is she a Disney Princess? Yes
Should she be Disney Princess? Yes
Notes: She’s the Sultan’s daughter; I’m not sure if princess should really be an accurate term for medieval Persian leadership, but she’s referred to in dialogue and in plot device as Princess Jasmine.

Film: The Lion King
Release Date: 6/15/1994
Female Lead: Nala
Is she a Disney Princess? No
Should she be Disney Princess? Maybe
Notes: This is tricky. First off, within a pride of lions, there is usually one alpha male, several females, and their cubs. Theoretically, all the females should have been Mufasa’s “wives”, and if Mufasa is “King” then, Nala should be a princess by birth. However, I don’t think Disney is too keen on the incest angle with Nala and Simba, so let’s put that aside for the moment. If Nala isn’t Mufasa’s daughter, then she would never have been a princess. Simba became the king by right when Mufasa was killed, so if Nala “married” Simba at the end of the film, she would go from nothing to queen immediately. Overall, I’m going to lean toward the LIONS DON’T HAVE A MONARCHIAL STRUCTURE OF GOVERNMENT.

Film: Pocahontas
Release Date: 7/16/1995
Female Lead: Pocahontas
Is she a Disney Princess? Yes
Should she be Disney Princess? NO.
Notes: She’s never referred to as “princess” in the film, never maries a prince, and despite being the Chief’s daughter, native American tribal leadership doesn’t really fall into the same bailiwick as feudal-to-renaissance European monarchies, so nope.

Film: The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Release Date: 6/19/1996
Female Lead: Esmeralda
Is she a Disney Princess? No
Should she be Disney Princess? No
Notes: She’s a gypsy entertainer, not a princess. Fun fact: She was in the Disney Princess club for a while, but parents complained about her being too sexy for kids, so she was dropped.

Film: Hercules
Release Date: 6/14/1997
Female Lead: Megara
Is she a Disney Princess? No
Should she be Disney Princess? No
Notes: She’s a plot device, being used by Hades. Never a princess.

Film: Mulan
Release Date: 6/5/1998
Female Lead: Mulan
Is she a Disney Princess? Yes
Should she be Disney Princess? No! NO NO NO!
Notes: She’s way better than a princess, she’s a warrior badass. At no time though is she a princess. Not born royal, not married royal.

Film: Tarzan
Release Date: 6/12/1999
Female Lead: Jane
Is she a Disney Princess? No
Should she be Disney Princess? No
Notes: Explorer, not princess.

Film: Fantasia 2000
Release Date: 12/17/1999
Female Lead: N/A

Film: Dinosaur
Release Date: 5/19/2000
Female Lead: Neera
Is she a Disney Princess? No
Should she be Disney Princess? No
Notes: DINOSAURS ARE LIKE DOGS, THEY DON’T COUNT

Film: The Emperor’s New Groove
Release Date: 12/15/2000
Female Lead: N/A

Film: Atlantis: The Lost Empire
Release Date: 6/3/2001
Female Lead: Kidagakash “Kida” Nedakh
Is she a Disney Princess? No
Should she be Disney Princess? YES.
Notes: Same as Black Cauldron. She’s a born royal, box office gross shouldn’t count.

Film: Lilo & Stitch
Release Date: 6/16/2002
Female Lead: Lilo
Is she a Disney Princess? No
Should she be Disney Princess? No
Notes: Modern-era Hawaii doesn’t have princesses.

Film: Treasure Planet
Release Date: 11/17/2002
Female Lead: N/A

Film: Brother Bear
Release Date: 10/20/2003
Female Lead: N/A

Film: Home on the Range
Release Date: 3/21/2004
Female Lead: Maggie
Is she a Disney Princess? No
Should she be Disney Princess? No
Notes: COWS DON’T COUNT EITHER WHY DO I KEEP REPEATING MYSELF

Film: Chicken Little
Release Date: 10/30/2005
Female Lead: N/A

Film: Meet the Robinsons
Release Date: 3/30/2007
Female Lead: N/A

Film: Bolt
Release Date: 11/21/2008
Female Lead: N/A

Film: The Princess and the Frog
Release Date: 11/25/2009
Female Lead: Tiana
Is she a Disney Princess? Yes
Should she be Disney Princess? Kinda, sorta, not really.
Notes: Despite the fact that the title of the film is “The Princess” and the Frog, and despite the fact that she actually does marry a prince, I’m booting her on a technicality. Prince Naveen abdicated his position. At the end of the movie, Tiana starts a restaurant, and Naveen gets a job as head waiter. They don’t move back to Maldonia and assume the throne, they live happily ever after in New Orleans. By abdicating his position, Naveen nullifies Tiana’s claim to being a Disney Princess. You could make the argument that she was a princess for a short while after becoming human again but before Naveen took his waiter job, but that’s kind of a thin justification for inclusion.

Film: Tangled
Release Date: 11/24/2010
Female Lead: Rapunzel
Is she a Disney Princess? Yes
Should she be Disney Princess? Yes
Notes: Royal by birth. No way to argue otherwise.

Film: Winnie the Pooh
Release Date: 7/15/2011
Female Lead: N/A

Film: Wreck-It Ralph
Release Date: 11/2/2012
Female Lead: Vanellope von Schweetz
Is she a Disney Princess? No
Should she be Disney Princess? Maybe, but I’d say no.
Notes: Yes, she was referred to in the film as Princess Vanellope, she does abdicate her position and form a democratic society within Sugar Rush by taking on the title of President. As with the circumstances of Tiana’s removal, Vanellope stays out.

 

Alright, that took a while, but here’s what we’re looking at.

New Disney Princess Lineup: Snow White, Cinderella, Aurora, Eilonwy, Ariel, Belle, Jasmine, Kida, and Rapunzel. (Feel free to use the above image as a wallpaper.)

 

That’s the ideal situation. Now if we alter the rules and include Pixar films, we can include Merida, But if we do, we also have to include Atta and Dot from A Bug’s Life. And if Pixar gets in, then we need to include all Disney-owned properties. Lucasfilm gives us Princess Leia. If we include Marvel, we get a whole mess of princesses including Clea, Princess of the Dark Dimension, Atlantean princess Fen, Lemurian princess Llyra, Princess-Majestrix Lilandra Neramani of the Shi’ar Empire, Princess Pearla of Sub-Atomica, Power Princess of Squadron Supreme, Molly Hayes AKA Princess Powerful, Princess Python of the Circus of Crime and Serpent Society, Viper, Warrior White Princess of the Hellfire Club, and Skrull Princess Anelle… Did I miss anyone?

Also, Disney (through Buena Vista) released dubs of most of Miyazaki’s films in America. Should Princess Mononoke get in? Plus, I’m not sure if Miramax ever had any princess characters in any films, but they should count too if we’re going all out.

 

See this is how things get out of control. Stick with the core Disney Animated Features. Less confusing that way.

 

What are your thoughts? Any princesses you’d like to see gone? Others you think should be included? Leave your comments below!

 

EDIT: I forgot to mention Giselle from Enchanted. She might fit in the category with the Pixar girls, IF she were ever a princess. She wasn’t. She was going to marry the prince, but hooked up with a divorce lawyer instead. NOT A PRINCESS.

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