Fixing the Disney Princess Film Festival

I saw Lion on the weekend, after receiving multiple rave reviews from friends.

It was good. Very good, in fact. It’s up there with one of the best films I’ve seen, personally. And others think so too, as it’s getting a bunch of award nominations.

They’re also raising funds for the 80,000 kids that go missing in India each year — which you can donate to here: http://lionmovie.com/#charity

When I rocked up to buy a ticket at the cinema booth, I couldn’t help but notice the posters on the wall behind the cashier. One in particular stood out: a Disney Princess Film Festival. I wasn’t entirely sure what bothered me about it at first.

The poster showed the four films included in the festival, the recent (and apparently awful) Cinderella film, Tangled, Sleeping Beauty and The Little Mermaid, as shown below:

Then I realised what was missing — so I tweeted at Event Cinemas to see if they could see it too: the missed opportunity? The bizarre arrangement of films in the year 2017?

They did not reply. Perhaps they were scratching their head about it too, at first.

Regardless, I went ahead and fixed the problem. Sure, my quick and dirty graphic design hack isn’t up to Event Cinemas standards, but at least it’s a little more inclusive:

I really can only wonder what went down at Event Cinemas HQ when they were devising this ‘film festival’. Was choosing four films that focused solely on white princesses an accident?

It’s absolutely possible and I’m sure it was just a weird coincidence. Though, the mashup of a recent live-action film, a CGI Tangled film and two animated films from 1959 and 1989 seems a little… odd. It was almost like they wanted to have exclusively blonde and white characters but didn’t want to spring for the rights to Frozen again so settled for a redhead (the fact they went to a mythological species of person before anyone with a darker skin tone is a whole other thing).

While we’re on it, what’s with the choices of princesses and role models?

Now, I’ve never put on a Disney Princess Film Festival. And I highly doubt I ever will. But if I were, particularly if I had a daughter to think about and what sort of messages I was sending her I might choose something other than what was on offer.

With Tangled as one exception, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and The Little Mermaid’s plots primarily revolve around whether or not they’ll find love and live happily ever after and/or get married.

Romantic love and the pursuit of it is seen as the focus.

I chose to replace them with Mulan, Tiana and Jasmine because (aside from diversifying the whole thing) they offer a different selection of role model values:

  • Mulan defended her entire country from invaders and became a war hero
  • Tiana is an aspiring and hard working businesswoman
  • Jasmine rebuked the tradition of arranged marriage and being told what to do in favour of forging her own path in life — she insists on breaking out of the prison of commodification

While each of these films include a love story, that is itself a secondary component to their lives, goals and personal values.

I think that’s a much better thing to be teaching our children, right?

But hey, what do I know, I’m just a white male with no children.

However I’ve long believed that at some point in my life — when I’m a little older and wiser and not writing blogs about Disney princesses, perhaps — I’d like to adopt a child. I came to this realisation after dating a girl who herself was adopted from birth. Her story, of chance and of people willing to change their lives in an impossibly loving way to look after her made a impression on me.

Lion, which detailed the story of a lost Indian boy being adopted into a childless white family in Australia, further cemented that idea in my mind.

If I ever do adopt a child and they ever want to go to a Disney Princess Film Festival, I hope they have a wide selection of heroes and heroines to choose from — with good stories about courage and independence and dreams.


Twitter: @williamcstubbs

Web: William Stubbs

Aspiring: Gentleman polymath.