lørdag den 14. december 2013

Disney Heroines and Female Ideals

Recently, the new Disney movie "Frozen" was released in cinemas, and this movie has raised voices all over the world! The complaints mainly revolve around the amount of female characters and their portrayal, from what I've heard. 

The argument about the portrayal of women in the media in general is interesting, but in this post I'm gonna talk about Disney in particular, and the ideals that they set for girls and women. I feel that the portrayal of women in Disney movies and TV-series is to some extent misunderstood, but then again, the critics are right on some points as well. 

One must remember, that many of the Disney princesses were written many decades ago. The expectations that people had for a woman was different back then. There was a time where it was expected of a woman to be quiet, delicate and the wife of a husband/breadwinner. 
So is it healthy, pulling those roles out of the dusty old closet and pushing them onto girls today? Are Disney princesses bad rolemodels, just because they're not all "feisty" ?

I don't think so, at all. 
Many people seem to worry that Disney will make girls fall victim to the idea that you have to find a guy to marry, to be "right". What I think some of these people forget, is to reflect upon their own childhood and the worries and goals they had back then.
Growing up, did Disney make you frantic to go out and get married? Was the most important thing in your life finding a Prince Charming, or has it been since?
Maybe it's just me, but I watched every single Disney movie, I had the Disney-Barbie dolls. I still wanted to become a hero I wanted to travel the world and become a Pokemon Master, I wanted to become a secret Spy. The last one was a result of Disney's "Kim Possible", actually. See, that's a great story with a kick-ass female lead!

Disney Princesses were some of my greatest idols, though! I was a huge fan of Pocahontas, especially. 
I loved her affinity with nature, her strength, her willingness to stand up to her parents and to traditions to do the right thing. The John Smith-thing was just a side-plot to me. 
The great story with a strong female lead was in the center.

I found Belle in Beauty and the Beast to be very inspirational as well. She was clever, openminded, independent, and her close relationship to her dad is for some reason some of what I remember the clearest. Many people worry that her falling in love with the one that keeps her prisoner will have a bad influence on how girls view relationships. I never even thought of that when I watched the movie! The only thing I cared about was how she was able to see past his beastly looks! To me, "Beauty and the Beast" is about not judging a book by it's cover, and second chances. And Belle is not all beauty. She's brains as well!

Even the women in the older Disney movies have great traits that young girls will undoubtly learn from. The three fairies in Sleeping Beauty are fun and quirky characters. They're creative, they're motherly and they raised her all on their own with no man involved. I'm not gonna talk about miss. Beauty. She doesn't have much of a personality of her own, in my opinion. I'll give the critics that.

The first Disney princess, Snow White, is innocent but not just that. She has a sense of curiosity that makes her go her own way, and a basic trust in humanity. She moves in with a bunch of nice, little strangers that would probably have been looked down upon and shunned back in the middle ages or whenever this story takes place. She keeps that trust, despite having just been betrayed by a person that she trusted, and having been mistreated her whole life. She turns that into something good. She helps the dwarves and becomes a motherly figure to them, and they give her a place to stay and protects her. Even if she is naive, I think the basic message that little girls get out of the movie is a good one.
It didn't make me trust strangers blindly, but it's central message about friendship went right in there.

I could go on and on, and talk about Jasmin's independence, Mulan's sense of justice and Tiana's hardworking personality and goals, but they speak for themselves.
What I'm trying to say is, that Disney is not all about finding and marrying Prince Charming. That's not what little girls get out of watching these movies. What little girls see, are women that can hold their own in a world dominated by men.
They see that by following your sense of justice, being independent, being something besides "just" beautiful, and doing good in the face of adversity, you become a great and admirable woman!
Those are the traits that make up a princess and/or a heroine!
People claim that Disney has started to make female characters that look the same, but I disagree. Merida doesn't look anything like the Frozen girls, for instance.

Disney have their flaws, but I think their ability to make a wide range of different, but equally rolemodel-worthy heroines deserves applause.

I have yet to watch the movie "Frozen", but I know I will, despite the lack of female characters in the movie. From what I've seen, the Queen looks pretty badass.

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