Saturday, September 08, 2007

The Disney Princess Machine, Has It Gone Haywire?

Princesses are in. Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Ariel. Odds are if you have daughters, you see plenty of ads for these princesses and others. The list goes on: Pocahontas, Mulan, Snow White, Jasmine, Belle, and debuting soon, Disney's first black princess, Maddy. Old movies are new again, and new movies are being made featuring old movie princesses -- Cinderella III; Disney Princess Enchanted Tales; The Little Mermaid Platinum Edition; Princess Party Volume Two: The Ultimate Pajama Jam!; Disney Princess Stories Volume Two: Tales of Friendship; and more.

It is troubling to see this amount of marketing effort applied to animated characters directed toward youngsters, but it doesn't end there. When attention is turned to real life Disney teen stars, we see a Disney pop princess machine that seems to have gone awry. From Hillary Duff, to the Cheetah Girls, to Hanah Montana, to Ashley Tisdale, to Vanessa Hudgens. It is not enough to have these teenage girls to be TV stars or movie stars, they are promoted as pop stars too. Their television shows and ads for their movies are followed by videos featuring their next hit single. It is nonstop marketing.

Too often, the image of the girl seems to take a back seat to the desire to create a saleable pop sensation. One of the Vanessa Hudgens videos, in particular, seems so inappropriate that I change the channel or turn off the television if it comes on. Of course Disney should back Ms. Hudgens following her recent error in judgment.

The bigger question is: Is Disney pushing girls too far too fast, or growing their careers to quickly, to turn them into the next pop princess sensation? Of course parents and child performers make their own decisions, but as an expert in the industry and key decision maker, what role does Disney play?


Kelly said...

I find this princess phenomenon to be extremely distressing. Yes, I do think Disney pushes things too far with both the cartoon princesses and the real-life girls who gain stardom through Disney's clout. The girls at home and the girls on screen all suffer as a result. What are they learn about self-esteem? About having a healthy body image?

Marine Wife said...

Walt is probably spinning in his grave. He made Annette Funnicello promise to never wear a bikini on-screen. Why are the cartoon princesses so scantily-clad? It makes no sense. Little girls who love all this princess stuff (yes, mine are among them) don't need to see or be "sexy."

Shannon said...

Kelly and MW, I agree with you both.

I did see a show, however, I was impressed with recently. The Saddle Club, in the one episode I saw, I thought did a nice job of presenting positive role models for young girls. It's associated with Discovery Kids and you can read more at .

Shannon said...

Hmmm, web address is not complete above. That should be "html" at the end. Let's try again:

Shannon said... (no space) html