Blog Post 11a: The Politics of Marriage in Disney Princess Films (pt deux)   Leave a comment

Two weeks ago, we covered the princesses of the Golden Age of Animation in Disney films. This week, by pure happenstance, we cover the three princesses of the Renaissance Age of Animation in Disney films.

The Little Mermaid (1989)

Disney’s The Little Mermaid is pretty much the cover page for “bowlderization” or “Disneyfication.” Their Snow White tossed the evil stepmother off the cliff rather than forcing her to dance to death, and had Cinderella burst into the room before the stepsisters could cauterize their feet into submission. In the original Hans Christian Andersen tail tale of The Little Mermaid, it pretty much opens with Ariel and her sisters celebrating Ariel’s new womanhood by singing bawdy songs while watching storms sink ships.

In both versions, Ariel falls in love at first sight with a handsome human prince. In both tales, she sells her voice to the sea witch so she can go to land and court the man of her dreams. However, in the Hans Christian Andersen version, it feels as though thousands of sharp knives are poking at her legs the entire time. Meanwhile, the prince falls in love with a beautiful princess (who also happens to look exactly like her!)

In the Hans Christian Andersen version, the Little Mermaid’s sisters sell their hair for a knife that will undo the contract she entered; all she has to do is coldly murder the prince in his sleep. The Little Mermaid, seeing how lovely and peaceful the Prince and his bride look sleeping, instead kills herself with the knife. Now she’s an air spirit, drifting aimlessly through the world for 300 years. For every good deed she sees a child do, that’s one day off of her sentence. But every bad child she sees who disobeys their parents, that’s another day she has to endure the earth! HINT HINT. (the original story was a Christian allegory)

Disney’s The Little Mermaid has the story end happily. The Beautiful Princess is the (now evil) sea witch in disguise. Eric (the first Prince with an actual name!) murders the Sea Witch, King Triton sees that Eric is not a Bad Dude, and grants Ariel her legs for reals now, and everyone lives happily every after until the sequel.

I actually have no idea what Eric is the Prince of. I’m pretty certain his parents are still alive, although that’s based on a foggy memory of a line early in the film, before his ship sinks. He lives in a castle by the sea, with an alarming amount of windows, considering the time period:

Suddenly, Kelsey realizes the reason she prefers guys with dark hair and blue eyes

Not that I can even tell what the time period is. Puppets are the height of entertainment, so that’s probably a hint. Ariel’s decked-out dress is a little too decked-out for me to figure. However, Grimsby’s cravat screams 1800s. So probably, the story takes place in the early 19th century. What country had its own prince in the early 1800s, and had a castle by the sea?

I have no idea, but any kingdom by the sea could probably use all the sea help it could get.

We got it all worked out. In exchange for never eating fish again, and having to take on the burden of importing all their protein and the loss of their fishing industry, we’ll give them safe passage through the seas. I think the sea kind of won out in this venture. Thanks, sweet tits! I mean, daughter.

Beauty and the Beast (1991)

Okay, sorry, the Belle memes aren’t as good

There are so many things wrong with Beauty and the Beast. So. Many. Things.

1) The Prince is cursed at eleven. He’s freed from his spell at twenty-one. This guy?

No one has ever seen this person before, ever, because this person did not exist before.

2) Stockholm syndrome. Everyone mentions it. Yes. That is probably what is going on. However, there’s a theory going around that the story was invented to help girls get used to the idea that they’re not all going to marry handsome, charming princes. Why, they may marry men who are downright beastly!

3) This story takes place in, like, provincial France, right? Sometime in the 1700s or 1800s or something? Why has no one noticed that the Prince — presumably a brother or son or nephew to the king of Absolute France — has disappeared, shut himself off from the world completely? Is the castle still receiving regular tributes from the local population?

I find all of that more weird than the fact that Prince Adam (he has a name btw) married a fricking peasant girl. I think the only reason he’s getting away with it is because everyone important assumes he’s dead.

Aladdin (1992)

See more on Know Your Meme

I’m pretty certain that sultans marrying their daughters off to advisers actually makes a lot of political sense.

Apparently Jazmine is the Sultan’s only child — out of a harem? Really? One child, and a daughter at that? Did some wife get smother-happy or something? Or maybe he only married once, and then never bothered with any mistresses, because he loved his wife so much. Maybe.

Anyway, if you only have one child, therefore one heir, do you really want to set your country’s future on the whims of that one person, with no sense for the politics? “He must be a prince” doesn’t mean diddly. What if that prince’s country wants to ruin your country, or enslave your people? What if the prince she chooses is in a country that is at war with an ally?

Let’s not ruin this with words.

Or…you could marry her off to your grand vizier, who’s had you and your country’s back for so many years. A trusted advisor, with links to your country and its people. You know.

Posted April 7, 2012 by agentksilver in animation

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