Speaking of work, though, we realize that we haven't once mentioned that we're translating First Love Monster for Yen Press. It's a zany love comedy, and that's all I'm going to say about it right now. Also! we just found out from Facebook that Say I Love You 8 hit bookstore shelves today. Is that early? It's only a week after the latest My Little Monster. But the point is, we're a little excited about it, because that's the first book we wrote a review for! Tadah!
Anyway, we were watching Danny Phantom last night (as usual), and we got to the episode entitled Beauty Marked. So if you don't want to read another post about how people don't understand Disney princesses, then this is not the post for you! On the other hand, I've also been thinking, in relation to this episode, about how people seem to judge things (like Disney princesses) based on the past and not the present, and how we can never make progress if people refuse to acknowledge the progress that has already been made, so maybe ranting about a nine-year-old episode of Danny Phantom isn't going to help anything, but I do feel like people are still making the same claims about princesses even today, so I'm going to rant about it anyway.
For those of you who haven't seen this episode of Danny Phantom, a brief summary: a ghost from the middle ages comes to Danny's school and holds a beauty pageant (the Happy Princess Pageant) as part of an evil plot to choose a bride for her brother (also a ghost from the middle ages). So it's pretty much the typical "beauty pageants are evil" sort of episode, but we're not going to weigh in on that issue today.
The issue we are here to discuss is the treatment of the concept of princesses. In the episode, the medieval ghost says that princesses aren't supposed to think--they're only supposed to do as they're told, smile, and live happily ever after. The episode was clearly inspired by Disney elements--the evil brother transformed into a very maleficent dragon, and at one point Sam is made to wear glass slippers that look just like Disney Cinderella's. In their defense, the creators of the episode probably grew up in a time when the only Disney princesses (there really aren't that many, compared to the number of Disney movies there are) were Snow White, who grew up as a slave; Cinderella, who grew up as a slave; and Sleeping Beauty, who wasn't much of a thinker. So based on their experience with Disney princesses, it almost makes sense that they would come up with that summary of a princess's life, especially if they hadn't seen the movies recently or weren't paying attention when they did.
I can also understand that many girls who wish they could be Disney princesses seem to think that that's all it takes...but I can't help thinking it's unfair for people to get on a girl's case for wanting to be a princess when Simba doesn't get any guff for "I just can't wait to be king." You might say that's because kings get more power and prestige, but princesses get power and prestige, too. Just a lot less of the responsibility, which really just makes the whole thing that much easier and more desirable.
But I would also like to contest that being a princess is not all sparkly dresses and happily ever afters, and so here's what I'm going to do: I'm going to list the things that the Disney princesses did in addition to doing as they're told, smiling, and living happily ever after. Starting, of course, with Snow White.
Snow White grew up as a slave in her own home, so she was pretty much doing what she was told as far as we can tell, but there is one very significant time when she did as she was told, and that was when the huntsman told her to run. If she didn't do as she was told then, she would have been murdered. And now here's a list of other things she did:
She endured a night alone in the woods.
She found a place to live, which she promptly took over.
She got a housekeeping job.
She quickly rose to the management position and was bossing dwarfs and woodland creatures around ever after.
Insisted that she be allowed to go to the ball, implying that she might turn her oppressors in to the authorities if she couldn't.
Designed her own ball gown.
Befriended the household pests, which is probably an excellent way to keep mouse droppings out of the kitchen.
Charmed a prince without knowing it (that takes more than smiling).
Had the good sense to keep her glass slipper and not break it.
Made the suggestion that ultimately rescued her from the tower. (Get Bruno!)
This one was a little tough, because she really isn't much of a thinker, but nevertheless, she is the one who made the date with Prince Philip that led to him being able to rescue her (in an extremely roundabout way). You might also say that she's the one that got him captured, which could be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on how you look at it.
Never did as she was told.
Constantly rebelled against her father.
Appreciated diversity despite opposition (she wasn't going to let her father's racism affect her opinions).
Got herself a pair of legs.
Convinced her father's minion to follow her instead.
Saved said minion from being made into dinner.
Saved Prince Eric from being zapped by a trident.
Single-handedly fought off the advances of her town's equivalent of the star football player.
Rescued her father from prison.
Ignored orders to stay away from the West Wing.
Performed first aid on a very grumpy and dangerous patient.
Taught a beast how to read.
Taught a beast how to love.
Saved her father from dying of pneumonia.
Snapped a beast out of a suicidal depression.
Ran away from home.
Rejected countless suitors.
Stood up for someone of lower status.
Stood up to the grand vizier.
Saw through Prince Ali's lies (after telling him to jump off a balcony).
Took a major hit for the team by pretending to fall in love with Jafar.
Convinced her father to change an old-fashioned law.
Was constantly running off to do her own thing despite what anybody else told her.
Refused the marriage proposal of the most eligible bachelor.
Helped two racist groups of people overcome their prejudice.
Deliberately defied her parents and all kinds of societal expectations.
Joined the army.
Killed an army of invading Huns.
Rescued her commanding officer from falling off a cliff.
Rescued the emperor from would-be assassins.
Learned to be herself.
Worked two jobs.
Saved up enough money to buy her own restaurant.
Ran her own restaurant.
Taught a deadbeat prince the value of work.
Refer to the lyrics of "When Will My Life Begin"
Knocked a strange man unconscious and hid him in a closet.
Convinced him to do her bidding.
Charmed a whole tavern full of thugs.
Rescued her guide in a dramatic fight.
Rescued herself and the guide from drowning.
Convinced a militant horse to make a truce with a fugitive.
Stood up to an emotionally abusive foster mother.
Saved Flynn Rider's life, again.
And there you have it. The list is by no means exhaustive, but the point is Disney princesses do have minds of their own. I agree with the episode(of Danny Phantom)'s philosophy that women are not to be treated as mindless pawns, but I heartily disagree with the idea that Disney princess movies somehow contribute to the opposite idea.
Today I'm thankful for it being time for a vacation!!!, Disney princess movies, the delicious chocolate cake we got from Bread Day, still having more cake left, and did I mention we're taking a vacation?