Proposal Title

Reinventing the Disney Princess

Start Date

June 2022

End Date

June 2022

Abstract

A trailblazer within girl culture are the Disney Princesses, a long-studied area within culture and media. The central argument among scholars is whether the heroines have progressed (Davis 2006; Itmeizeh & Ma’ayeh 2017; Mollet 2020) or regressed (Maio 1998; Rudloff 2016; Stover 2012) in their animated films. Building on this, I will address how Disney use live action films to reinvent princess stories. Since the introduction of Snow White in 1937, Disney Princesses have been adorning children’s screens, shops, and hearts. The remakes of Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin and Mulan are a way for Disney to inspire nostalgia in adults, and reintroduce children to new classics.

However, the reinvention of these princesses in a more contemporary setting does not mean these stories become more empowering. I argue that whilst the stereotypical portrayal of gender in earlier animated princess films sit within the context of the era in which they were created, these exceptions cannot be made for modern adaptations. I investigate to what extent the live action princess films reinvent the original portrayals of Disney Princesses.

Using an innovative analytical framework for feminist media studies, I examine the models of femininity within animated princess films: Cinderella (1950), Sleeping Beauty (1959), Beauty and the Beast (1992), Aladdin (1993) and Mulan (1998). Then, I compare these models of femininity to their live action reinventions, assessing to what extent the portrayals of these women have been adapted for a contemporary audience that is still searching for more empowered heroines.

Bio

Robyn Muir is a Lecturer in Media and Communication at the University of Surrey. Her research focuses on the images of femininity within the Disney Princess Phenomenon, using facet methodology to explore the different areas of the wide-ranging facets of the princesses. Her research interests include feminist methodology, representation of gender within popular culture and cultural phenomenon and the politics of merchandising.

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Jun 23rd, 10:00 AM Jun 23rd, 11:30 AM

Reinventing the Disney Princess

A trailblazer within girl culture are the Disney Princesses, a long-studied area within culture and media. The central argument among scholars is whether the heroines have progressed (Davis 2006; Itmeizeh & Ma’ayeh 2017; Mollet 2020) or regressed (Maio 1998; Rudloff 2016; Stover 2012) in their animated films. Building on this, I will address how Disney use live action films to reinvent princess stories. Since the introduction of Snow White in 1937, Disney Princesses have been adorning children’s screens, shops, and hearts. The remakes of Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin and Mulan are a way for Disney to inspire nostalgia in adults, and reintroduce children to new classics.

However, the reinvention of these princesses in a more contemporary setting does not mean these stories become more empowering. I argue that whilst the stereotypical portrayal of gender in earlier animated princess films sit within the context of the era in which they were created, these exceptions cannot be made for modern adaptations. I investigate to what extent the live action princess films reinvent the original portrayals of Disney Princesses.

Using an innovative analytical framework for feminist media studies, I examine the models of femininity within animated princess films: Cinderella (1950), Sleeping Beauty (1959), Beauty and the Beast (1992), Aladdin (1993) and Mulan (1998). Then, I compare these models of femininity to their live action reinventions, assessing to what extent the portrayals of these women have been adapted for a contemporary audience that is still searching for more empowered heroines.