Farewell, Disney Princesses…Boys Don’t Like You
Goodnight, sweet Princess. It appears boys just aren’t that into you. Or so says a bevvy of Disney executives who have decided that the last film, The Princess and the Frog, was a royal flop. In light of its less than stellar performance, they are canceling future princess-based fair and that which will go through will have bigger guy roles.
For those of us who have had a love/hate relationship with the idea of the indoctrination of girlishness that the Disney Princesses have become, this is a moment of crisis.
As delicious as the thought of a less princessy “princess” film may be, Disney’s reasoning for it is just as big a feminist bummer as Ariel giving up her voice to get a man. It’s the same line we hear about why women can’t open films made for grown-ups — the female market just isn’t profitable enough, and men won’t go see chick stuff. Never mind that female-driven movies like “Sex and the City,” “Mamma Mia” and the “Twilight” franchise have been phenomenally successful in recent years, or that so many of the movies aimed at women are unwatchable schlock, or that no one ever worries about the future of male-oriented films, even when highly anticipated ones fail to perform. Women are an unpredictable niche market that just happens to be slightly over half the population. Deal with it.
So even though I look forward to Disney putting less emphasis on princesses, I’m not thrilled about the fact that that seems to mean putting less emphasis on girls.
Does the world need another princess movie? Probably not. But this trend speaks to the idea that a girl will have no issue watching a movie with a male protagonist, but somehow a boy will get “girlyfied” or lose interest if he watches a movie with a strong female, so the characters have to be male by default.
Is it a sign that girls, even from the earliest age, have the ability to pretend and emphasize in a way that boys do not? It the male lead default on movies needed because little boys tend not to role play or imagine to the extent that little girls do? Or is the assumption that little boys won’t watch a “girl movie” part of the culture that causes them not to be as comfortable with make believe and creative imagination games as little girls are?
One thing I can say for sure is that the Disney Princesses are more than just a movie theme — they are a marketing extravaganza that brings in billions of dollars a year in purchases for girls. Should they start to see a dent in that industry, perhaps then Disney will find girl movies worth their focus again.