Harriet Tubman ~ Abolition Princess


Maya and I were talking about Disney the other night, and how, while the princesses are generally funny and clever and increasingly independent, the happy ending of most Disney movies is the ‘Happily Ever After’ wedding. When the protagonist of a Disney movie is female, the end is almost always a wedding. When the protagonist of a Disney movie is male (wait, are there any with a male protagonists in Disney movies, or are they mainly Pixar these days?), the happy ending is the success of whatever adventure or mission they have just experienced. They save the day, the end. Mulan saves the entire nation of China, but the end still has to have a romance for her. Blech. Maya did say that a very recent Disney movie has a female protagonist, and no romance involved, but she’s napping right now after taking the Literature Subject SAT, so I can’t ask her.

After our conversation, I saw this article, about an artist who finds the lens through which women are seen in Disney movies to be absurd, and he went on to render some of our female role models through this Disney lens. Click on over and see what you think. 1st, he’s right, it’s ridiculous. 2nd, he did a lovely job. I wonder if he could get a job at Disney and find a way to paint heroines in a more complex and varied light? And would the audience appreciate the change?

3 thoughts on “Harriet Tubman ~ Abolition Princess

  1. Brave had a Disney heroine and no hero. It was the mother-daughter conflict that was the story and a good one it is. I buy kid movies not only for grandkid visits but also because some are excellent films. I loved Brave for the story and the Celtic music.

    • Rain, Brave is exactly the movie that Maya was telling me had no romantic interest, AND I have seen it, so I should have remembered. 🙂 Also, the heroine wasn’t a Disney princess (in her appearance), but a Pixar princess.

      And there certainly have been Disney films without a love story. I don’t remember a love story in The Rescuers, for example. But she wasn’t considered a Disney ‘princess’, which I guess is my point.

  2. Thank you for calling the article to my/our attention. It is excellent, and so very true. His illustrations are the perfect example of one facet of what I rail against as the Disneyfication of American History and Culture. Believe me when I tell you that it has reached cult status. It was consistently disappointing and upsetting to mention themes, characters, archetypes, etc. and have the greater part of my sophomore honors students immediately offer up examples from a Disney film. My history colleagues had to burst many bubbles of glassy-eyed teens whose view of Pocohantas had to be re-centered drastically, thanks to Disney’s representation.

    I wish the whole Princess Culture would go away, frankly. It doesn’t matter what Disney does to try to make the “princesses” be more brave, independent, or smart. As long as that word gets hooked up to the heroine, its baggage does too.

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