A porn star Disney princess? Why renegade artists are breaking the mould

Posted by: The Guardian | Date: January 31, 2014 | 0 Comments
AFP

Artists on the web are reimagining Disney princesses – those surreal creatures of so-called human perfection – from casting them as porn stars to portraying them with disabilities.

As satires on the global power of Disney go, these efforts are some way behind South Park’s characterisation of Mickey Mouse as a violent corporate crime lord. However, the compulsion some people feel to alter Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and the rest is only natural. Disney has become the world’s most pervasive propagandist for oppressive myths of gender. Its “princesses” are brainless slender-waisted mannequins that little girls all over the world are being offered as an ideal. Disney’s promotion of cliched femininity is one of the most regressive aspects of today’s popular culture.

How did this happen? The first Disney “princess” was Snow White, who appeared in cinemas in 1937, to be followed by Cinderella (1950) and Sleeping Beauty (1959). But, as the staggered dates of these films reveal, they were not conceived as a series of princess movies. Walt Disney had the much more creative idea of translating the folktales of old Europe into feature-length cartoons. The most vivid images in these films are not the princesses as much as eerie fairytale villains and magic – such as the stunning final confrontation of good and evil in the forest of thorns in Sleeping Beauty.

But then I am of the masculine gender. Do girls relate differently to princesses? That is the logic of modern Disney, which has turned its leading female cartoon characters into a marketing phenomenon. Princess dolls and accessories and picture books and costumes are an unavoidable part of modern childhood if you’re a girl. Parents can’t really choose to shield their children – even if they discourage the princess stuff, someone is bound to give it as a gift.

To be fair to modern Disney, its princesses are not totally homogenous. Pocahontas provides a good way to discuss the history of western colonialism with a seven-year-old.

But they all do conform to a perniciously repetitive model of what girls are supposed to admire. There is nothing better, apparently, than being a princess. Forget architecture or astrophysics.

Disney should be ashamed of itself, but there is one consolation. Whatever transformations adult artists may perpetrate on princess dolls are nothing compared with what a child can do to one in 10 minutes. That really is surreal. – By Jonathan Jones © Guardian News and Media 2014

Image – AFP

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