Excellent Advice from Cartoon Princesses: "Have Friends Smaller Than You So You Can Control Them!"
By Deb Rox on August 31, 2010
BlogHer Original Post
While the rest of the Internet might be worrying its frazzled hive mind about the gender gap in math, tech, literature and business, savvy analysts at The Second City Network have launched the Advice for Young Girls from a Cartoon Princess series of videos to remind us that those pesky inequities aren't a problem because we’ve let the Disney Princesses teach our young lasting messages about how to lead rich and fulfilling Princess lives.
The videos are great ... and useful! Belle, that Beauty who famously shacked up with the Beast -- well, sure, some might call it imprisoned -- issues sage advice: Find a man who wants to imprison you with his love! The longer that you are trapped with the same person, it will start to feel like home. Stockholm!
Ariel, that lovely Little Mermaid who gave up her magical mermaidness for her guy, summarizes her key messages infused with a bubbly, can-do attitude: My best feature is my voice, so I sold it for plastic surgery! You should always find a stranger, and then genetically modify yourself for that stranger!
The videos are a viral hit because they are pitch perfect and devastatingly funny -- emphasis on the devastating. Commenters at The Second City Network’s YouTube channel are clamoring for more, because we all know that Snow White, Cinderella and their gal pals have tons of advice to share with women, and little girls with DVD players attached to their booster car seats shouldn’t be the sole beneficiaries of the shiny brilliance of Princess guidance. I don’t think Oprah, Madeleine Albright and Rachel Maddow combined could offer more wisdom than a chick who has served the personification of a woman's dwarfed dreams of freedom from gender and class assigned oppression while dodging a narcissistic, murderous woman and waiting for a dude to bring her to life, am I right? You know I am!
These comic videos join a large body of work and art grounded in a feminist critique of the Disney Princesses and the original fairytales that served as their inspiration. Projects like this Advice series, the Fallen Princesses photographs, or commentary on blogs such as Sociological Images, Pussy Goes Grrr and the Future Feminists Flickr pool are made for adult consideration about the messages sent to children who consume these stories, and the princess cult offers rich comedic fodder as well.
Inspired to change those messages, many parents have replaced the questionable advice from princesses with alternative fairytales by seeking out authors such as Jane Yolen and Angela Carter. Some families experiment with a life sans Disney like Lisa Ray, who has been documenting her experience on the interesting blog A Magical Year Without Disney. Still, our culture continues to program these messages into our kids, and the persistent fetishization of glittery fairytale damsels-in-distress remains a lucrative business. What is an evil, maniacal mother to do?
One solution is to continue to poke holes in the genre from all sides, including fabulous satire like the Second City Network supplies, so I’m anxiously awaiting the next Advice video. I also hope the smart comics will offer some Advice for Young Men from Princes, because our sons have received some whacked fairytale messages as well, and Shrek can't carry the load himself.
Have the Princesses taught you or your children anything -- or anything you try to rescript? What are your thoughts about the Advice for Young Girls from Cartoon Princesses?
If she had to say which Princess she is most like, Contributing Editor Deb Rox would say she is most like Aurora from Sleeping Beauty, because Deb is always thinking of others, tends to get hurt when using power tools like spindles, and really likes naps.
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