February 27, 2012

Varying Princesses

Filed under: Estrogen,Idiot Box — Katrina @ 1:18 pm

Yeah, I’m thinking about Disney movies again.

You know what bugs me? Seeing all the Disney princesses lumped together. Snow White. Cinderella. Aurora (maybe). Jasmine. Ariel. Belle. Pocahontas (maybe). Well, that’s not all the princesses, missing Eilonwy and a few others, but you get the idea.

But, yeah, the thing is… not all of those characters are the same. For one, Snow White and Cinderella are from around World War II, while Ariel, Belle, and Jasmine are from the early 90’s. A lot of feminism happened in the interim. And it shows.

You really cannot compare Snow White (from 1937) with Jasmine (from 1992). You cannot paint those two with the same brush. Because, simply, Snow White sucks, and Jasmine is awesome.

Snow White has no personality or brains. She’s just… there. Absolutely all she does is clean, sing, swoon over the prince, scream, cry, clean, sing, sleep, scream, clean, cook, sing, scream, clean, fall into apple coma, go with prince when he wakes her up with a kiss to some cloud castle.

Jasmine, on the other hand, very much does have a personality and brains. Not to mention that just about every line of dialogue she has could be read as “Fuck you, patriarchal society!” She’s cynical and defiant. While she’s the only female character in that movie, she’s also the only character who seems the slightest bit intelligent.

Jasmine’s primary concerns are that she’s being forced into marriage by her idiot father (who claims she has no choice and doesn’t realize until the end of the damn movie he’s the sultan and can ignore or change that law), while Snow White’s primary concern is, I don’t know, a scary looking tree?

Even when Jafar has all these powers and demands submission, Jasmine still refuses to bow to him, while Snow White happily takes and eats an apple from a strange old woman after being fed some bullshit about it being a wishing apple.

And Snow White is in her subsequent apple coma and useless while the dwarfs chase after the old witch, while Jasmine is the one who pretends to suddenly be totally hot for Jafar to distract him while Aladdin grabs the lamp (which doesn’t totally work because Aladdin is a dumbass and didn’t quite pick up on the fact she was pretending).

Oh, and while Snow White might sing all sweetly and bring the birds and deer to her, yeah, Jasmine has a TIGER! A tiger who will rip you apart even if you just slightly annoy her.

What do all the other princesses wear? Cutesy little dresses. What does Jasmine wear? PANTS!

The more modern princesses in general are an improvement, sure. Cinderella is very submissive like Snow White, though at least in her case the old magical woman who shows up actually helps her. Don’t remember a lot about Aurora, but if I remember right, she doesn’t do much either. Though she is for some reason the only one who has a mom. Of course, it was like the 1940’s, so women in general weren’t expected to do much other than have men define their worth, so there you go. While Ariel, Belle, and Jasmine are a few steps up, what with Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem having already had their say in society. Jasmine’s clearly the winner out of them still, of course.

Belle is still a bit submissive but not as much as the earlier princesses and there’s more depth to her character (and her dad’s actually nice and non-coercive). Ariel is definitely defiant but not great at the whole critical thinking thing, but that can probably be forgiven seeing as she’s desperately trying to escape a severely oppressive home. And, like with Jasmine, it’s revealed at the end her dad had the ability at any time to give her what she wanted (legs) but chose not to in order to keep her under his thumb.

But then there’s Mulan, who’s even better than Jasmine, who can carry the story on her own, is strong and smart, is the heroine, and, rather rare for a story with a female lead, anything about a love interest is backburner.

And, of course… she’s not a princess!

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