My friend DR finds the Disney princesses distasteful enough to steer her daughter away, gently, from princess-thoughts in general. I, on the other hand, have enough of a taste for certain princess-thoughts that I allow my daughter, sometimes, to watch and read about Disney princesses.
That would be fine if that were as far as went, but, in thinking about it, I’ve almost come to believe that I have no objection to Disney princesses at all. DR describes them as “confections.” They are that, aren’t they? What’s wrong with me? Am I losing my mind?
But I’m thinking back to a class on children’s literature a few years ago when I had the students read Hans Andersen’s The Little Mermaid as an antidote (I thought) to Disney, and we found the story turgid, wooden, demeaning to women and other human beings, and didactic not just in the usual way (i.e. thinly veiled defense of Xianity) but in support of an eccentric and oppressive religious understanding. A student in that class wrote an essay defending Disney against Andersen and I found myself almost entirely convinced.
One can have general issues with fairy tales, of course. I do. But, assuming one is willing to overcome them and read, say, Grimms’ Briar Rose, what does one have against Disney’s Sleeping Beauty? Remind me, someone!