I’m not a Disney fan. In fact, I wouldn’t shed a tear if everything Disney-related on this plant shriveled up into a teeny tiny ball that I could then stomp on until it became a flat little pancake with some Disney prince’s smushed up face on it.
You get it. Disney is not my thing, which is why I got pissed off when I went to see the movie Frozen with my seven-year-old daughter over Thanksgiving. Because I liked it. Kristen Bell’s Anna was feisty and tenacious. Olaf was hilarious and probably the most delightful character the Disney machine has ever created. I’m now obsessed with Idina Menzel and cannot stop singing my new life anthem, “Let It Go.”
I still think it’s stupid that Disney kills off one or both parents in almost every movie. I also believe it would be nice if someone informed the illustrators that a girl’s eyes should be smaller than her wrists. And perhaps we can all agree that Elsa shouldn't transform into a hot babe in a sexy blue dress at the exact moment she declares "that perfect girl is gone." But after years of serving up misogynist, brain numbing, eating disorder-inducing drek, Disney is attempting to show us it hears us when we say ENOUGH WITH THIS PRINCE SHIT ALREADY.
Unfortunately, Akash Nikolas of The Atlantic thinks Frozen’s big fail is that it doesn't let Anna fall in love, which apparently all girls aspire to once they are out of diapers. According to Nikolas, we are shaming our girls by not letting them live out their real-life, all-consuming fantasy of finding a "good" man.
May I just say, Are you f*cking kidding me?
Even I, someone who thinks Disney is a blood-sucking conglomerate, can't help but see its attempt at progress. Finally, a character who says that falling in love in one day is dumb. Finally, an effort to show that young women are complex creatures rather than all good or all bad. Disney is a publicly-traded, profit-driven company with lots of shareholders to please. For them to change the boring old tropes that reduce females to one-dimensional, desperate naifs is not a small thing.
Rather than recognize this, The Atlantic – a publication that typically shares intelligent articles related to the sexes – decides to post a piece that sends women straight back to Rapunzel’s tower.
Has Nikolas ever spent a significant chunk of time with the girls who watch Disney movies? The girls who are obsessed with princesses? Obviously not. The romance, the flirtation, mostly everything related to falling in love goes completely over their heads. Girls love the songs, the friendships, the silliness and the adventure. They couldn’t care less if the princess ends up with some dude or if she goes to the pub to pile one on after kicking Hans to the curb.
I bet if you asked a bunch of girls under eight what their favorite part of Frozen or any Disney movie is, none of them would mention anything about some outdated fantasy involving a prince. That’s why it is so infuriating to read nonsense like this:
What the Prince Charming fantasy does is encourage girls to aim for good guys. It is aspirational, the way superhero films encourage boys to emulate honor and honesty.
Just this week, I shared with my daughter what my grandmother, a Holocaust survivor, told me repeatedly growing up. She said “Vendy,” in her strong Eastern European accent, “You have to get your education. Don’t do anything until you get your education.” Even though her formal schooling had ended at about fourteen, my grandma understood that life is about more than finding a man. Despite what Nikolas claims, our girls are already hearing otherwise way too early and way too often.
What Nikolas obviously does not understand is that girls don’t spend their early years dreaming of princes. We shove that fantasy onto them. Girls want to stomp up snow-covered hills, save their sisters, belt out a good tune and kick some ass. Disney finally took an itty bit step away from the false fantasy of prince charming. Perhaps the company is beginning to recognize another aspiration girls have. It's called equality.
(P.S. If you are Idina Menzel and you are reading this, I heart you.)
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