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Alethea & Athena
Pie charts and princesses 
13th-Sep-2014 04:50 pm
We are running out of steam lately. I think we need to get more sleep. But today we woke up early to help clean the church! It's a good thing, too, because there weren't a lot of people there. But it may be less good for the women's bathroom we mopped, because we are not experienced moppers. Oh well.

We also ended up walking there and back, which was extra hard because it's stupid hot (I was going to type "super hot," but my fingers typed "stupid" without me, and Athena agreed, so it stuck). We checked the weather report Wednesday and saw they were predicting multiple three-digit highs, and at that point we decided it was time to go ahead and get a fan. I predicted we would finally buy a fan as summer came to a close, and sure enough. But! when we got to checkout at Amazon, we weren't thinking about the heat quite so much, so we were like, "Sure, we can go with free shipping." Boy oh boy are we regretting that now. Fortunately, it's the weekend, so we're free to spend time in the living room where we have a cooling unit in the wall.

But instead we spend our time in the office making pie charts. The other day, someone posted something on Facebook about how the quickest way to convince someone of something is with charts and graphs, so I had that in my head when I was thinking about...I don't even know. Like, "Let's so something we don't usually do," or something. So I thought, "We could make pie charts!" I wasn't even on one of my, "I don't get why people seem to think this thing about Disney movies!" kicks...although I easily could have been.

There's an article showing up on our Yahoo! news feed where Don Hahn made this deep revelation that supposedly explains why so many Disney characters don't have mothers, and the fact that it shows up there means people are reading it, and we're like, "Wha...?" We didn't even realize that so many people seemed to be bothered by that. We just assumed it was because most of the movies were based on stories about orphans or people with single parents. We're also not sure if it's true of the majority of Disney movies, mostly because we haven't sat down and counted. We do know it's mostly (where "mostly" means "more than 50%") true of the princess movies, and since most people seem to think Disney movie = Princess movie, we can see where people get that idea.

So maybe all that was going on in the back of my mind when I came up with the idea to make pie charts, but part of it is just that pie charts are kind of fun. Or they are until you try to make one on a computer program that you've never used to make pie charts before. Then it gets annoying trying to figure out how it works, especially when they won't let you change the color of the sections. But we were triumphant! And now we have a pie chart that divides Disney animated features into "princess movies," "movies with princesses that are not princess movies," and "other."

We put Aladdin in the second category because it's about Aladdin, not Jasmine. Oh my goodness, I don't know if I told this story before or not, but we were playing Disney Headbanz, and Athena had Jasmine, and she asked, "Is my character from a princess movie?" I said no, because Aladdin is about Aladdin, not Jasmine. But everybody else was trying to correct me! We were like, "I thought you were our family! You should know better!" But I don't know. Maybe there's some unwritten definition of "princess movie" that we don't know about that means Aladdin is a princess movie. *shrug*

We included Nala as a princess, but not Maid Marion. Should we include Maid Marion? What say our LiveJournal friends? King Richard said something about having an outlaw for an in-law, which means she's related to royalty, but would a duchess or other sort of non-direct-descendant relation count as a princess?

Also, come to think of it, if there is some unwritten definition of "princess movie" that we don't know about, that might mean we need to include The Black Cauldron and Atlantis as princess movies... Hmmm...

Today I'm thankful for pie charts, managing to finish off the chocolate fondue, getting enough Mog Medals to get a high purity Namine assist card, having a cooling unit in the living room, and being done walking for the day.
13th-Sep-2014 08:51 pm (UTC)
My thinking is that "princess movie" refers to Disney movies with characters who are included in the usual Disney Princess marketing lineup, so for that reason I would include Aladdin (the movie) because of Jasmine (sorry Al), but I do see your point about the movie being named for him, not her. But on the other hand, she was my favourite princess, growing up, so it's not so easy for me to just say "it's about him," even though it really is.

So by that rule I'd leave out other movies with princesses/royalty (like Nala or Marion) in the category of "princess movies." The characters aren't being marketed as princesses, they're just being female characters in a somewhat typical/overdone "girl role."

But I dunno, the "no mother" thing might run a little deeper than just princess-related movies, because another friend of mine made a comment about how she wished Disney movies had more positive portrayals of functional two-parent families, and when I tried to think of a good counter example, even the ones that stress the importance of family usually do so because the family is missing one or both parents (Lilo & Stitch, Meet the Robinsons... which does have a big family, but starts with an orphan so I don't know how to categorize it. I think I did suggest it to her though) or the child is removed from the family somehow. And maybe that's just a popular way to introduce conflict or tension or whatever people think movies need, but I do still believe that more movies about happy people being happy together would not be a bad thing.

As usual, I've written enough and I'm hungry enough that I think I've lost my train of thought, so hopefully that makes some sense and isn't too off-base with reality. I hope your fan arrives soon! It's in the 50ºs here, naturally, so your triple-digit temperatures are beyond my comprehension, but stay cool! (aww, but you're always cool! :D)
14th-Sep-2014 12:56 am (UTC)
I guess that makes sense as a definition for "princess movie." Still, for the people who think of being rescued as a weakness, it really helps Jasmine's case to point out that it was Aladdin's movie so he has to be the one to save the day.

We weren't including Nala and Maid Marion in the princess movie category. We were wondering if Maid Marion should be included in the "movies that have a princess but are not princess movies" category. Is she a princess? Or is she some other nobility? If she is some other nobility, should we count her as a princess anyway? (Other movies that fall in this category include The Black Cauldron and Atlantis.)

It's certainly true that the princesses aren't the only characters with one or more parent dead. But if you think about it, a lot of classic stories that haven't been made into Disney films do, too--The Wizard of Oz, Harry Potter, Tom Sawyer, The Little Princess, The Secret Garden. Isn't Anne of Green Gables an orphan, too?

Don Hahn's theory is that it's a kind of shorthand--if stories are about growing up, the fastest way to make a character do that is to take the parents out of the picture. I think that's true in some cases, but not necessarily all of them. In the case of Ariel, Belle, and Jasmine, we think it's just a matter of there being so many other characters that they couldn't easily fit a mother into the story. And we know they tried to have more family members, at least in the case of Belle, because we've seen design sketches for a little sister for her.

As far as Disney movies that do positively portray functional two-parent families, you have 101 Dalmatians, Lady and the Tramp (though they're not the main characters), Peter Pan (not the most functional, but Wendy and her brothers do ultimately decide to go back), Hercules (has two sets of loving parents), Mulan, I think the mammals in Dinosaur had both parents but I don't remember, The Emperor's New Groove has a great family in it, and of course as you mentioned, Franny and Cornelius are good parents to Wilbur. And Tiana has some good family moments with both parents in The Princess and the Frog.

So it's not that they're not there--they're just not in the most popular...oh wait, there's The Lion King and Frozen. Of course the parents don't all live through those movies, and whether or not the family is Frozen could be considered positive and functional is up for debate, but maybe that's what makes those movies so popular.

Then it's a question of do you need it to be a positive portrayal of a two-parent family, or of a parent-child relationship and how those can develop? Because The Little Mermaid is more about Ariel and Triton than about Ariel and Eric. And then there's Chicken Little, too.

I think though, that this discussion has finally helped me figure out the disconnect I've had while people have been talking about this or that and whether or not it needs to be portrayed more in the media. These days, it seems like people seem to be using stories to help them figure out what's supposed to be normal. But stories were never meant to do that--they were meant to give you something new to think about, and expand your horizons. I do think stories are best with a positive message, but I think they'd be awfully boring if every one of them mimicked my everyday life.

Thanks for the well wishes! Our living room cooler has been very helpful tonight. We hope you had something yummy to eat! (Aww, you're pretty cool yourself! XD)
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