Princess movies, it’s a love-hate relationship. With two girls that currently fall into the princess mania age range, we are known to throw on a Sleeping Beauty, Snow White or Princess and the Frog, every once in a while.
More recently, we were watching Beauty & the Beast, which has just been re-released to the theaters, and my husband commented about the subplot of the film was the need for Belle to find a husband. While I’m not sure how old she is supposed to be in the film, the comment hangs there: you have Gaston chasing her around saying Belle will be his wife, the blonde triplets sighing about how “gorgeous” he is, and you even have a song and dance about how great his machismo is to be regarded.
Granted, in the end it is the more traditional alpha male that loses both at hand to hand combat, and “getting the girl,” but there does seem to be a bit of overemphasis on the point of life. Is this attributable to the period in which the film was set? I’m not sure. Similar themes run throughout Princess and the Frog, which seems not to be as “antiquated.” Sleeping Beauty and Snow White are probably even more attributable to their “times,” both in which they were initially released, and the historical periods in which they draw upon.
In the end, however, we are left with the somewhat uncomfortable feeling that our children are being taught that the most important thing is to find someone to fall in love with and live happily ever after. While I am of course a hopeless romantic, see e.g. my like for the Twilight series (although I don’t think I’m quite a Twihard, whatever that is, I am debating whether or not to pick up the wedding dress version of Breaking Dawn part I, it does tie in my love of weddings after all…), I don’t understand why that message, if it is necessary to be reinforced at all, is to be presented to our children.
I can already anticipate the counter-argument of, well then, just don’t let your kids watch it. It’s not so simple, I’m afraid. I’m not against the entirety of the films, see for example Tiana’s undying work ethic and deep love for family, or Belle’s tenacious love of reading and wanting more than a “traditional” marriage with some village boy. Thus, it doesn’t initially appear to be an all or nothing solution.
Partly because of this, I am greatly looking forward to reading this book, about princess insanity and “the new girlie-girl culture,” especially in contrast to my other recent reads, The Hunger Games (series), Expecting Adam, Lit, and Never Let Me Go.
I’m curious to hear what my other mom (and dad!) friends think.