Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Princess Ride

By Deborah Sharp

With tears in my eyes, I watched Rapunzel try to use her magical hair to save her dying love. Yep, there I was in a darkened theater at age well-over-fifty-something, watching Tangled, the movie that Disney claims will be its last offering in a very long line of tiara tales.

I feel like I should be standing in front of a group of fellow addicts, confessing: Hi, I'm Deborah and I have a princess obsession. Ever since I was a little girl, and watched an animated prince slip a crystal slipper on Cinderella's dainty foot, I've been taken in by the happily ever after. And it's not just cartoons, either. I'm a sucker for any story featuring a princess: Enchanted, the Princess Diaries, the Princess Bride.

P.S., I don't have kids, or grand-kids, so I can't even use that as an excuse for sneaking off to see Tangled.

So, what am I supposed to do now? Disney told the L.A. Times in November that this animated story of a princess, stolen by a wicked woman and imprisoned in a tower, would be its final fairy tale for the foreseeable future. Looks like the clock may have finally struck midnight on the genre. Disney execs fear it's too girlish to attract little boys and their daddies. Well, duh. The princess fantasy is a girl thing. Aren't there enough movies with fast cars and things that go BOOM for the boys?

Spoiler alert: Despite the imminent death of the princess tale, the story ended well for fair Rapunzel. And the fact that I cheered her on, that I loved this children's movie, got me to thinking about the endurance of this theme in books and movies. Are you pro-princess, or anti? Are princess stories a plot to delude women into waiting hopelessly for Prince Charming? Or, are they a sweet sojourn into Fantasyland? How about you men? Do you have a secret prince fantasy, where you get to save the day and end up with the beautiful girl? Wait a minute . . . isn't that the plot of every action movie ever made?


Lisa Bork said...

Pro-princess. Definitely. And jealous--I wanted to see that movie, too.

Alan Orloff said...

I guess I'm pro-princess and pro-prince, although that whole schlepping around town with the glass slipper thing seemed a bit skeevy to me.

Dru said...

I loved when my niece and nephew were little because they saw every animated movie that Disney made and I enjoyed it the most.

Definitely pro-princess.

Vicki Doudera said...

You're talking to someone who cried happy tears through Enchanted! I want to see Tangled too -- trying to get my 16 yr old daughter to come -- but I admire you not needing a "foil."

Good plots are about wanting something and getting something -- whether it is a slipper, revenge or the bad guy. I think there will always be princesses. Look at Kate Middleton!

Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

Pro-princess. I've seen all those movies, too, Deb, and I don't have kids either. I'm ashamed to admit how many times I've watched The Pricess Diaries. Fairy tales are the historic root of all feel good movies and over the years princesses have become much more independent and take charge, either saving Prince Charming or standing along side him, which is a nice evolution.

Lois Winston said...

Definitely pro-princess. And I cry buckets at Disney movies. Always have. I guess it's the happily-ever-after thing. I also love going to Disney World and Disneyland -- with or without kids, but it's more fun with kids.

BTW, Rapunzel wasn't a princess. Disney played loose with the Tangled plot in order to add another princess to their very successful franchise, something they couldn't do with Enchanted because Giselle wasn't a princess. So they took a little creative liberty and made Rapunzel one.

My guess is they've run out of princesses, and that's why there won't be any more. They've got too much of a golden goose going there to kill it. I read something awhile back about how the princess franchise is responsible for a huge chunk of Disney profits.

Deborah Sharp said...

Thanks for the comments, all you enchanted princesses (and one special prince, Alan!)
Lisa: Get thee to a cineplex, woman!
Alan: Ah, yes, the prince as foot fetishist. Nice.
Dru: Embrace your inner princess!
Vicki: Absolutely right in that all plots are about wanting something and getting it ... just hope princess-to-be Kate knows what she's getting in for from the royals.
Sue Ann: I also love that p's are becoming more empowered. Rapunzel wields a mean frying pan!
Lois: Yep, they gave Rapunzel a royal promotion. The princess merchandise is HUGELY profitable, but I'm told by moms that dressing in princess gear has a very small window, about 2 years old to 5 or so, then they start imitating pop stars (maybe they should stick with princesses???)

Beth Groundwater said...

Pro-princess, but I like the princess who stands up for herself a little more, like the one in Shrek who chose to remain an ogress to be with her love forever. So romantic! ;-)

Darrell James said...

Deb- I've always loved the Rapunzel story. Something very inticing about a beautiful woman in a tower.

Keith Raffel said...

Deb, didn't I see you crowned as a princess on the Today Show? Count me in then as pro-Princess Deb.

Mark said...

I am a Disney addict. I've got all their animated movies on VHS, DVD, and working on Blu-Ray. My favorite movie of all time is their Beauty and the Beast.

Loved Tangled. Can't wait to get it on Blu-Ray.

Yes, I enjoy a bit more action or humor, so I like Aladdin or Tangled better than Cinderella, but most of the time I find the princess stories very entertaining.

Deborah Sharp said...

Hi, Beth ... Every woman should have an ogre as sweet as Shrek.
Darrell ... hmmm, may I assume you have a prince fantasy about sweeping that princess from her tower?
Keith: That wasn't me in the tiara on Today ... it was Kathie Lee Gifford.
Mark: The humor is great. Love the scene in Tangled where Rapunzel inspires all the scary ruffians at the pub to confess their most secret dreams.

Keith Raffel said...

Deb, I couldn't mix you up with Kathie Lee. You are so much younger (and more royal).