Disney Feminist Series

Disney films feature strongly in my memories of childhood. I can't remember how it started, but the Disney stories, and particularly the soundtracks, are central to my childhood engagement with story. Fantasia's dark themes, and graphics, terrified me, The Little Mermaid was my life on screen (minus the boy obsession and swimming prowess), and The Lion King soundtrack sits in poll position as my favourite movie score of all time.

Princesses were incidental to my Disney experience. Born past the peak of Disney Princess films, but before the official introduction of the Disney Princess series and merchandise boom, I never really considered myself the target audience for the Princesses of Disney. I was never girly enough, swoony enough, more likely to play Robin Hood than Maid Marian, so relegated Disney Princesses as unworthy of further consideration.

The music, however, was a different story. It was storytelling in its purest form and there's few family car rides that don't feature at least one rendition of a Disney classic. 

As an adult, Disney took on new tones and meanings. Years of narrative study and political interest reshaped my experiences of Disney film. No more innocuous tales of aspiration and inspiration, Disney tales had a profound affect on my understanding of story, of relationships, and of female representation. And now, as we witness a demand for stronger - better - representation of women and girls, Disney comes back into focus.

The official Disney Princess lineup
I've rewatched the full Walt Disney Animation Studios Theatrical series, and it's been an interesting journey through memory and criticism. For a lot of viewers, Disney films are washed in the nostalgic rinse, above and beyond scrutiny. For a lot of feminist readers, the parameters of the Disney Princess line render critical examination futile. The Disney Princess series deserves criticism, it deserves scrutiny, and it deserves discussion. Children absorb a lot in film and television, complex notions of gender balances, class structures, and morality.

A little from column A, alittle from column B

As Disney continues to be the first engagement with story for a lot of Western audiences, there is still a lot to read in Disney Animation. Now with Pixar in the mix, and Disney continuing to expand and rebrand the narrative world (I'm look at you, George Lucas), it is important to continue to review Disney stories critically, question and challenge the parameters of story that influence audiences, because it does matter.

So welcome to the Disney Feminist Princess series where I explore Disney's female protagonists through a feminist lens. I'll be starting with Disney's Princess series, but will also look at the non-Princess team, cause who can ignore Ana and Elsa (nope, they are not Disney Princesses!!), Lilo, Nala, Wendy, and Tink?! We'll be looking at the history of the mythology and the film, representation, agency, and narrative, from age, dress, and relationships. Put on your tiara and warm up your singing voice, as we journey through the land of wishing songs, unnatural body shapes, and helpful animal-domestics.


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