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Gender Relations Final Project - Disney Princess Movies
Transcript of Gender Relations Final Project - Disney Princess Movies
from The Little Mermaid
(Clements & Musker, 1989),
and shows all of Ariel’s sisters singing a song honouring their father, King Triton. The song is called “Daughters of Triton”, and as can be seen in the video, the king gets very angry when he realizes that one of his daughters is not there honouring him. This particular song simply shows the relationship between the king and his daughters – they worship him. Daughters of
Triton There is a section of the lyrics which discuss what her future husband will be looking to find in a wife, and the characteristics listed include calmness, obedience, and a tiny waist. Lastly, it is explicitly stated that it is a man’s duty to bear arms, and a woman’s duty to bear sons. It cannot be suggested that that does not give gender role expectations to a young child watching these films! This selection overall leaves the viewer with the idea that men are for strength, battle, and are to be honoured, and that women are for bearing sons, looking pretty, and honouring their fathers and husbands. The second song is called “Honour to Us All” from Mulan (Bancroft & Cook, 1998), and it goes beyond the relationship between father and daughter. In the lyrics, a future husband, the next man to be honoured, is mentioned. The premise of the song is that Mulan is being sent to be dolled up in order to find a husband and consequently bring honour to her father and her family. The lyrics even say flat out that the ONLY way a girl can bring honour to her family is by finding a husband. Honour To Us All Further into the same film, there was another demonstration of male dominance in the form of the prince’s ball. The prince held a ball so that all the eligible young women would dress up in gorgeous gowns and come dance with him in attempts to win his affection. However, in the end it would be he who selected a wife – his choice. It is difficult not to notice the humorous parallels to a popular reality show that currently airs – The Bachelor. Although progress has been made (if it can be called that), and there is also a female version of the television show called The Bachelorette, the original program was dozens of women trying to win the affection of one man who got to make all the decisions. In one of the earliest films, Cinderella (Geronimi, Jackson, & Luske, 1950), the young princess’ father dies in the beginning of the film. When this occurs the once upper-class young girl lost her standing in society. As she was not yet married and she no longer had a husband, she was without a man, and therefore did not belong to anyone. With that she became the housekeeper of the mansion that was once hers. The Bachelor Beyond the honouring of the fathers and husbands, Disney took patriarchy a step further by simply eliminating the mothers. Of the nine films that England et al. (2011) studied, only three of them included mothers. Two of the three had extremely passive and submissive mothers who did make any sort of great influence on the princesses. In some of the other films there were ‘evil stepmothers’. So instead of simply absent mothers, they are presented as evil, and untrustworthy, all the while honouring the strong father figures. It seems as though patriarchy in these films could only strengthened the gender role expectations. EVIL STEPMOTHERS, IF ANY MOTHERS The following images are from a selection of the princess films, and all of them capture moments in the films that would either be considered the ‘romantic’ moment, or the ‘happily-ever-after’ moment. An interesting detail to note is the way the cartoon artists drew the scenes. Commonly, each of the images seemed to have either fireworks, sparkles, or other means of making the characters in the center appear enveloped by the moment. This seems to be an artistic way of triggering emotions and making the scene appear magical and fairytale worthy. This is done by connecting parts of nature to the naturalness of romantic love, but hetero-romantic love specifically (Martin & Kazyak, 2009). FAIRYTALE / MAGICAL LOVE http://ciknakz.blogspot.ca/2011/01/perfect-two.html http://romanticideasinlife.wordpress.com/2011/03/10/romantic-boat-ride/ariel_eric_boat_l/ http://www.fanpop.com/spots/leading-men-of-disney/images/1117510/title/aladdin-jasmine-photo http://debohouston.files.wordpress.com/2012/04/bachelorette2.jpg http://blogs.marinij.com/katwilder/2009/04/a_nice_stepmom_might_be_worse.html http://beinglumina.blogspot.ca/2011/01/evil-stepmother-strikes-again.html As Martin and Kazyak (2009) pointed out, the naturalness of romantic love that is drawn upon in the Disney princess films is directed into heterosexual relationships. The concept that romantic love stems from a natural spark and is overpowering then helps to link heterosexuality and love (Johnson, 2005). Given this link, heterosexuality becomes solely represented. In the Disney princess movies there is a lack of representation of anything other than heterosexuality.
This is an interesting fact given the gay community’s relationship with Disney as a whole. Behind the scenes, on the production side of Disney, it is claimed that the company was extremely gay-friendly. A composer and orchestrater for multiple Disney films was quoted saying that the music department was so gay-friendly that they were nearly sued for discriminating against heterosexuals when a straight artist was fired (Griffin, 2000). There was also an estimate made by Michael Eisner, the chief executive officer of Disney, that 40% of the employees of Disney studios were gay or lesbian (Griffin, 2000). Likely due to this, in 1995, Disney decided to extend their employee benefits to domestic-partners as well as spouses, and took some heat from over a dozen Florida lawmakers (Griffin, 2000). It is unfortunate that given the percentage of gay and lesbian employees, many of whom work tirelessly on the films in a variety of capacities, that they remain unrepresented on screen. HETERONORMATIVITY Disney and the gay community The exclusion of representation of anything other than heterosexuality is not limited to Disney’s films. The following video is a commercial for the Disney theme parks, and it is crawling with heteronormativity, along with an abundance of stereotypical gender roles and expectations. To begin, a little girl in a princess dress is seen running down Main Street U.S.A, which pans out to show you her whole family. No surprise, it consists of a mom, a dad, and two brothers. The next frame shows one of those brothers pulling the sword from the stone and displaying his manly strength. Next up is a heterosexual couple riding a rollercoaster together. Shortly thereafter the prince from Cinderella (Geronimi, Jackson, & Luske, 1950) is seen kissing the hand of a young woman as the narrator of the commercial states that it is only a matter of time before she ‘finds her prince charming’. This is making the assumption that the girl, and every girl watching, is straight – extremely heteronormative. It then proceeds to show yet another family with a mother, father, and two kids, smiling and waving. This family is Asian, whereas the first family was Caucasian, and therefore it is probable that the creators of this commercial were trying to be race conscious and inclusive. Well, that inclusion started and ended with middle to upper class heterosexuals. HETERONORMATIVITY Disney Theme Parks The most recent Disney film is The Princess and the Frog (Clements & Musker, 2009), and thus it is the film to look to for signs of progress. It is evident that there has been progress made in some regards, but in what areas? PROGRESS http://www.fact.co.uk/media/1167429/the_princess_and_the_frog_3.jpg Race:
Princess Tiana is the first African American princess. Even though there have been princesses of other races before, such as Pocahontas, Mulan, Jasmine, they were all for a reason, based on where the film was set. Tiana was simply African American. Female business owner:
Tiana’s main goal in the film is to make enough money to open her own restaurant. Disney finally gave a girl a goal other than simply ‘get the guy’. Attitude:
The writers made her a little bit sassy instead of prim and proper like the early princesses (think Cinderella). Mother:
She has a mother who is alive! Although apparently that was a trade off for her father. YES Progress Heteronormativity:
This is probably the most comical lack of progress on Disney’s part. Not only has there been no representation beyond heterosexuality, but apparently it is deemed more socially acceptable to pair Princess Tiana with a frog than another girl. This is not progress. Prince Naveen:
Getting the prince in the end is still one of her goals even though she equally is striving for her restaurant. Body proportions:
Princess Tiana’s proportions are still very Barbie-esque. Very unrealistic and unhealthy. A terrible model for young girls to admire. NO Progress It is certainly easy to see that expectations of gender roles are transparently present throughout the Disney princess films. Considering that some progress has been made when comparing the early films to the most recent, hopefully with time Disney films can continue to progress in their elimination of excessive gender role representations. ... and they all lived happily
ever after! http://www.fact.co.uk/media/1167447/the_princess_and_the_frog_6.jpg