Disney to give up fairy tales?

Yesterday’s LATimes has a piece on Disney giving up making fairy tale movies. Here’s a taste of it; click the link to read the whole piece.  (Yes, this is the same one I e-mailed to the class; just making sure you see it!) What do you think is behind Disney’s decision? Are fairy tales really “playing it safe?” Do the Disney powers that be really care about female stereotyping, or are princesses just not good money any more? (And what about that upcoming royal wedding, speaking of princesses…?)

why has the clock struck midnight for Disney’s fairy tales?

Among girls, princesses and the romanticized ideal they represent — revolving around finding the man of your dreams — have a limited shelf life. With the advent of “tween” TV, the tiara-wearing ideal of femininity has been supplanted by new adolescent role models such as the Disney Channel’s Selena Gomez and Nickelodeon‘s Miranda Cosgrove.

“By the time they’re 5 or 6, they’re not interested in being princesses,” said Dafna Lemish, chairwoman of the radio and TV department at Southern Illinois University and an expert in the role of media in children’s lives. “They’re interested in being hot, in being cool. Clearly, they see this is what society values.”


About Elisabeth Gruner

English professor, University of Richmond
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4 Responses to Disney to give up fairy tales?

  1. I think that Disney may be trying to move on to make movies that can become as great as their classic fairytale movies. Movies such as Cinderella, Snow White, Beauty and the Beast, Sleeping Beauty, etc. will always be popular and shown to children all over. Disney may feel the need that they now have the fairytale movies covered for now and they have an opportunity to branch out and make movies aimed at other people. Although many fairytale movies have been created since the classic ones, the new ones do not stand up to the old ones and they are not as frequently shown to children. Disney knows that the classic movies will always be popular so they have a great chance to branch away from fairytales right now.

  2. kalliebrennan says:

    As sad as I was to read this, I understand where Disney is coming from when they say they want to break away from princess stories. I don’t think this means they need to entirely count out these types of tales but its becoming more and more difficult to compete with the classics such as Cinderella and Snow White. The Princess and the Frog was somewhat of a disappointment because it just didn’t reach the same level as the classics were able to. Disney wants to be able to create movies for the whole family, not just little girls any more. We can only hope that whatever they create next will be as epic as the classic fairy tales.

  3. hjordan811 says:

    I was incredibly surprised and sad when I heard this. I think the problem is not the fact that little girls no longer want to see Disney princesses, or even that there is too narrow an audience, but the fact that Disney has not been making quality princesses. It is hard to compete with Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, or Aladdin, but Mulan found a way to do just that becoming one of my favorites. But after Mulan they just lost it. They are basing a large part of their decision to move on on the failure of the Princess and the Frog. I saw this movie and was very disappointed with it. While it had some epically amazing lines in the beginning, she had an incredible voice, and the story was somewhat sweet, it also felt like a miasma of repeated story lines and just altogether not worthy of Disney. Which is why it failed. Disney fairy tales are not just for little girls. My dad loved Beauty and the Beast more than I did when I was young, I have a guy friend who is pretty much obsessed with Disney, and many high school/college girls I knew were very excited when they heard that Disney was making the Princess and the Frog.
    I do not think that Disney really cares about female stereotyping except where it sells movies. Though its more recent princesses are definitely more active than previous reflecting the changing desires of girls who want to be the ones wielding the sword and saving the day. Disney’s calling fairytales “playing it safe” are simply trying to avoid admitting that they have lost the magic. Tangled, the most recent Disney princess was an amazing movie, but nevertheless, it still doesn’t have any songs that stuck in my head and made me want to learn them and sing them everywhere. I think they were the ones “playing it safe” when they chose Mandy Moore for the voice actress, while although she has a beautiful voice, she also brings the “big name” publicity and confidence. Previous Disney princesses did not have to rely on that.

  4. Andrew Brockett says:

    I am not surprised by Disney’s decision. In my opinion the classic fairy tales such as Cinderella, Snow White, Beauty and the Beast, ect. will always be shown to the youth and will never be forgotten. It would be very difficult to attempt to make fairy tales different from these classics that will have the same effect on children. I feel Disney would put a ton of money into these fairy tale projects only to see minimal acceptance and profit from todays children.

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