Wednesday, March 10, 2010

No More Princesses

Elise tagged this blog post about how after a dozen (uniformly excellent) films Pixar is finally making one with a young girl protagonist ... who is unfortunately a princess.
Dear Pixar,

This is not an angry letter. It is especially not an angry letter about Up, which I adored. I could have sat in the theater and watched it two more times in a row. I cried, but I also laughed so hard in places that it wore me out.

So I'm not complaining; I'm asking. I'm asking because I think so highly of you.

Please make a movie about a girl who is not a princess.
Amen. The rest of the post is totally on target too. This is not to discount the attraction of a frouffy pink ball gown every once in a while, but I definitely agree it would be great to have more movies based around characters like Up's Ellie.

In fairness, while Pixar is unabashedly boyish and the trad Disney movies have bought into the "Princess" marketing juggernaut, basically every single Miyazaki film is centered around a tough and awesome girl hero, knee band-aids and all. So not to let Pixar off the hook, but there is good stuff out there -- Spirited Away, Kiki's Delivery Service, Nausicaa, etc.

Anyway, after becoming a father I have definitely become more attuned to portrayals of girls and women in the (small number of) shows that Quinn watches. We're big fans of the Dora the Explorer episode where Dora saves the prince trapped in the tall tower and I cheer inwardly every time she pretends to be a scary monster.

So the "Princess" hegemony is pretty irritating. I know we won't be able to filter it out of Quinn's cultural intake forever and undoubtedly she'll go through a princess phase and we'll roll with it. Still, every time I see one of the Disney princesses I get a lyric from my favorite Coup song -- Wear Clean Draws -- going through my head:
You know you're my cookie baby and you're too smart
I can see it in the lines of your school art
True heart, I mean courage, expressed with care
Go on draw them superheroes with the curly hair.

You're my daughter, my love, more than kin to me
This for you and the woman that you finna be
Tell that boy he's wrong, girls are strong
Next time at show and tell play him our song.
Tell your teacher I said princesses are evil
How they got all they money was they killed people.

If somebody hits you, hit 'em back
Then negotiate a peace contract.
Life is a challenge and you gotta team up
If you play house pretend that the man clean up.
You too busy with the other things you gotta do
If you start something, now, remember, follow through.

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