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The Death of the Disney Princess Movie: Will You Miss Them?

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Disney's Tangled

Did you know that “Tangled,” the new Disney animated movie, was initially going to be called “Rapunzel” but the name was changed so it would appeal to boys?

It’s not surprising then that after “Tangled,” Disney plans to move away from princess and other fairy tale movies in hopes of reaching a broader demographic.

Yes, it’s true — Disney, the studio that has been bringing fairy tales to life since 1937 with its first feature, “Snow White,” has no plans to produce any more fairy tales “for the forseeable future,” according to the Los Angeles Times.

In fact, the studio axed the two fairy tale movies that had been in development, “The Snow Queen” and “Jack and the Beanstalk.”

As The Los Angeles Times points out, this is huge news.

The Walt Disney Pictures logo consists of a fairy tale castle and the Disney Princesses — Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Ariel, Jasmine and the rest  – have become iconic figures around the world.

So why the shift? For one, Disney’s last princess movie, the well-reviewed “The Princess and the Frog” was a box office disappointment. For another, Disney movies like “Toy Story” and “Pirates of the Caribbean” attract boys and girls, while princess movies generally draw in only girls.

That’s why Disney changed the name of the Rapunzel movie to “Tangled” and shifted the marketing focus to the male star Flynn Rider.

Apparently, the popularity of “tween” TV has also contributed to the end of the Disney Princesses. As the L.A. Times points out, “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.”

My 5-year-old daughter has been teased by some kindergarten classmates for liking the princesses, which some see as for “babies.”

“By the time they’re 5 or 6, they’re not interested in being princesses,” Dafna Lemish, chairwoman of the radio and TV department at Southern Illinois University, told the L.A. Times. “They’re interested in being hot, in being cool. Clearly, they see this is what society values.”

I’ve got mixed feelings about the shift. On the one hand, like a lot of my fellow self-proclaimed feminist moms, I cringe at the notion of little girls aspiring to meet their Prince Charming and live happily ever after. On the other hand, I can’t stand the idea of 5 and 6-year-olds aspiring to be Hannah Montana or iCarly.

I’m also sorry that Disney and other studios have decided to focus on boy protagonists in kids movies. While I didn’t always appreciate the message many of the princess movies sent to little girls, I loved Belle’s fierce loyalty, Mulan’s strength, and Jasmine’s adventurous spirit.

To me, Disney will always be synonymous with fairy tales. I’m hopeful they can invent some new ones for the 21st century.

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