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Lake Charles, Louisiana, United States
Hello, and welcome to my blog! I like to write about children's literature, fairy tales, feminism, and pop culture in general. I've recently earned my Ph.D. in children's literature at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. I also review children's and young adult books for Kirkus and teach English at Sowela Technical Community College. Oh, and I like cats! [Banner image artwork by Yuki Midorikawa]

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Toddlers in Tiaras -- Sofia the First

Disney is set to induct its newest member into the Disney Princess pantheon: Sofia the First.

An article at Deadline informs us that Sofia's TV movie will air Fall 2012 and will be followed by a TV series in Spring 2013. Sofia will be the first Disney Princess who is the same age as her intended audience: around 4-6 years old, if her picture is anything to go by. Many parents, however, can attest that Disney Princess mania often begins much, much earlier.

Sofia is allegedly a commoner whose mother married a king, thus making her a princess. A Disney exec says this is to make Sofia more "relatable" to viewers, apparently conveniently forgetting that neither Tiana, Belle, nor Mulan were born princesses either. And poor Mulan even made the mistake of marrying a soldier, so no tiara for her.

Of course, Disney can't marry off a six-year-old, so Sofia's mother has to take the fall for her. Disney wants to make a character young viewers can relate to, but I'm not sure how many American children are lucky enough to have parents who marry into royalty.

The truth is that Disney is constantly looking for more ways to milk its Disney Princess brand (and for good reason, too ... it earns approximately 4 billion dollars a year). Disney keep saying they're turning away from princesses, but the allure of marketability keeps drawing them back.

Meanwhile, we're all forced to suffer through yet another Hollywood adaptation of a princess narrative. I never thought I'd say this, but ... Disney, please come back!

Just not like this.

2 comments:

  1. Eeek! I can't help loving Disney (much as I sometimes love to hate them, from a feminist stand), but a 6 year old princess?

    Kids like characters who are older than them, and imaginative play thrives on characters and situations that are abnormal, not relate-able.

    I miss the princesses (and hand drawn animation) or my youth...

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  2. Don't feel bad about loving Disney! I do, too. Don't we all? It's been said that Disney literally manufactures magic and sells it to us on a silver platter; hard to argue with that, I guess. I do love me some Mulan and Little Mermaid!

    I hadn't thought about that; yes, it does seem odd to try and pitch a heroine who is the same age as her intended audience. But it does work sometimes, does it not? What about the popularity of characters like Dora the Explorer or Arthur? (Wait, how old is Arthur?)

    I love the old princesses, but I must admit, I do love "new girl" on the block Tiana, too :) She's one of my favorites.

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