Disney Princess Nostalgia: The Enduring Love of Disney Icons by Millennials.
Disneyland Annual Passes, Dapper Day, Disney-inspired Instagram illustrations, and most of all — -revitalizing the old Disney fairy tales into live action movies. This only emphasizes our enduring love and devotion to the Disney Princesses of our childhood. We filter our favorite princesses just like our instagram photos — -we reimagine their princess lives in the 21st Century and enjoy seeing them dressed in jeans and tshirts. Holding hands with Aladdin and Prince Charming.
What would your favorite princess look like with tattoos? Disney princesses as mothers! Disney princess bathing suits!
Are we raised to be princesses but grow up to be waitresses? Part-time princesses — -precarious and vulnerable to the current economic uncertainties? Just as conservatives and baby boomers languish in nostalgia to complain about our present — -are we millennials looking towards our own favorite fairy tales as a form of nostalgia? As adolescents, a good life was packaged completely with a simple conflict, true love, and a happily ever after. Poor princesses married into wealth! Every problem could be solved with love! Isn’t that how adulthood was supposed to look?!
Nostalgia politics is very common — -we romanticize a time in which things seemed or felt better. As we look back we tend to forget the pain, sorrow, and hardship due to the fact that we already survived. What’s done seems simple — what lies ahead seems impossible. In times of precarious or uncertain economy, where most people have 4 year degrees and are primarily under-employed — -it only makes sense that we seek a better time. A Disney fairy tale, where problems are solved with true love and magic. As we reimagine how Disney princesses would look like as mothers or working — -there needs to be some sort of critical engagement as to why we love and revere these images? Because ultimately, Disney princesses will always be one thing — — a Disney commodity. The first word is Disney, a multinational conglomerate, worldwide corporation with theme parks around the world and movies dubbed in nearly all spoken languages.
Yes, they try and expand their Disney princesses to include people of color, but it’s still a capitalist enterprise that we are revering and worshiping. Are we playing nostalgia politics with a commodity?! And by recreating the princesses in different situations — -are we making ourselves feel better or actually just conducting free marketing for Disney?
From Instagram to Twitter, to click-bait sites, millennials seem to be drawn to depictions of their favorite Disney Princesses doing basic millennial actions. These illustrations are not being produced by Disney, but by inspired fans.
Our generation is defined by its precarity. We exist in a precarious economic state without long-term career paths and indebted from college onwards. A generation that must utilize the sharing economy for economic independence without any of the perks of a co-operative! Capitalism takes over not only our economy but our politics, allowing corporations to steer policies and law, and we drift towards an oligarchy. As we love our Disney princesses in order to escape the difficulties of reality, what we really do is engage in commodity fetishism. We revere, love, cherish this commodity, see it as having important personal and social value. We continue to purchase our tickets to Disneyland and buy princess-inspired bathing suits, all while continuing to struggle economically.
But this precarious and vulnerable economic state is not in any way particular or unique to this generation. Yet, it’s difficult to see economic vulnerability when everything is placed through an instagram or snap-chat filter. Our struggles do not seem as difficult when there is a flower crown glowing from our foreheads. Princesses, fairy tales, snap-chat filters all do one thing — -distract us from the problem. Disable us from engaging in resistance. There is something rotten happening all over the world. We thought we were living in a golden age, we had our happily ever after, but the movie stopped rolling, we kept living, and we have begun to struggle again.
Original fairy tales did not have a happy ending. Sleeping Beauty ended in rape. The Little Mermaid ended in suicide. Ariel’s voice was not stolen by a magical shell, her tongue was cut out. The Beauty did not choose to go in the castle with the Beast. These stories had to become commodities to sell, and you cannot sell something that makes you cry. The stories transformed from bleak and difficult, showing human vulnerability, to magical and solvable. Every story ended beautifully and reflected an age in human history where we had hope — -where our world was not defined by aristocratic or blood divisions. The American Dream reflected itself in every story.
Of course struggle persisted, but it was hidden. It was repressed and ignored by the white middle class. Poverty is something that we do not engage with in the media, unless the person is leaving or elevating themselves out of poverty. But this is the time to look beyond these commodities towards their dark origins. The effects of capitalism, how it has created a new class of aristocrats hell-bent on becoming billionaires and paying their employees next to nothing. We are simply recreating the economic stages we had ‘evolved’ from. Complacency and being complicit to this commodification will only continue our shopping and marketing. It simply gilds — and inevitably that gold layer will chip off leaving us dissatisfied and once again struggling.
Published as well on Blog: Nastywomenpolitics.wordpress.com