Disney princesses, who doesn’t love them? Since Snow White’s debut in 1937, the ‘Disney Princess’ line has become a $4 billion franchise, whose merchandise includes everything from miniature ballgowns to designer handbags…for a mere $2.49 one can even purchase their child a personalized phone call from the princess of their choice.1 They’ve become an icon worldwide, representing the dreams of every little girl, the love of which is passed from generation to generation.2 The latest figure in this royal lineup is Rapunzel, Disney’s first CG princess and the heroine of their 50th animated classic, Tangled.
Most of us are probably familiar with the old fairy tale by the brothers Grimm. While the original tale was a pretty poorly written story, Disney has rearranged it a bit, applied their expert craftsmanship and added a dose of modernity for good measure. The plot line is still similar- a beautiful girl is kidnapped by an old hag, locked away in a hidden tower, the hero finds and rescues her, and they all live happily ever after. This time, though, Rapunzel is a princess whose hair possesses magical healing powers- an impetus for our old hag, Mother Gothel, to keep her locked away. And, instead of wandering around in misery and despair, Rapunzel and our hero, Flynn Rider, go on a grand adventure. Sounds pretty innocuous, right? Well, not exactly. The film is filled with beautiful imagery, delightful characters, great humor, and a story that never drags, but as I walked out of the theater last week, my thoughts were on a different vein. It was, in fact, the film’s perceived harmlessness that made it so disturbing. To be sure, there are a number of things to pick on- from thugs delivering sermons on the basic goodness of man, to magic droplets from the sun god, valley girl vernacular, and much more, but the most troubling parts of the film were the overarching themes.
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