Thursday, June 28, 2012

Expository Homework, week 6 of 8


Adapted from an example I made when students requested I write my short lit review on Disney's princesses.

30 January 2012

Walt’s Princesses

Belle.  Sleeping Beauty.  Snow White.  The Disney Princesses are some of the most well-known animated characters in American culture, but their impact on young people is not always positive. It is very important to consider the impact heroes have on America’s youth because young people are the future of the world. The following review will examine what experts are saying about the Princesses and their impact.

Princess syndrome

          Some experts say the Princesses cause young girls to expect to be spoiled—treated like their princess idols.  Johnson, in his 2010 article to parents, cautions parents to expose their children to many different types of heroes.  Otherwise, girls start to believe that princesses are flawless, and they should be flawless, too.
            Gillam and Wooden note that Disney heroines showcase traditional gender roles, so girls may feel that they need to be “pretty in pink” and avoid activities that might be contrary to traditional female choices.

Princess success
          In 2000, when Disney was looking for something new to inspire their product lines, they introduced the Princess line, and as Wloszczyna reports, Disney broke all the rules.  Wloszczyna quotes Andy Mooney, who was chairman of Disney Consumer products at the time, “Princesses had to stay in their own mythological worlds. No two of them could share the same environment. Having them live together was a pretty controversial subject matter at the time.”
            Johnson claims that the Disney line is one of the company’s most successful of all time.  Its first year, the line earned $100 million, and by its third year, earnings had jumped to $1.5 billion (Wloszczyna).  By 2010, the line had topped $4 billion (Jahnke).
            Jahnke claims that it’s not just the 26,000 princess products that have been successful, it’s the permeation of a princess culture.   From shows like The Bachelor to businesses like My Girl Party, Jahnke catalogues various success stories and claims that what would have been inappropriate 30 years ago – little girls not just playing princess, but being princesses—is the gold standard today (Jahnke; Wloszczyna).

Princess Stereotypes
          Some experts claim that Disney’s princesses perpetuate old stereotypes while others argue that Disney has modernized the classic princess.  All agree that the Princesses have had an impact on growing up in America, especially for little girls.
            According to Johnson, there may be no escaping the Princess phase, but parents who teach their kids to be critical when viewing cartoons can help children see the truth through the stereotypes.  Gillam and Wooden remind us not to forget the boys—Disney is promoting a new type of hero as well as a new type of heroine.  Pixar heroes tend to be able to show their feelings more openly than Disney heroes of the past.
            In January, Disney launched a new princess show aimed at its youngest audience of future princesses yet:  Sophie the First (Jahnke).  Aimed at preschoolers, the show is likely to influence even more tender minds because as Layng claims, media influences children’s ideas about personality as the young people grow up.
            The Disney Princesses are some of the biggest stars in the young adolescent animated world.  They have had an impact on how girls and boys think about gender roles and fairy tales.  It is important that major companies, as they gain more power and influence, choose to be responsible with that influence and consider not just financial success, but what impact their message is having on young minds.  The future of American culture depends on it.




Works Cited

Gillam, Ken, and Shannon R. Wooden. "Post-Princess Models of Gender: The New Man in Disney/Pixar." Journal of Popular Film & Television 36.1 (2008): 2-8. ProQuest Research Library. Web. 31 Jan. 2012.

Jahnke, Krista. "Princess-Themed Businesses Bloom, but some Worry about the Message it Sends." The Courier: n/a. The Advocate (Stamford). Jan 16 2012. Web. 4 Feb. 2012 .

Johnson, Matthew. "The Little Princess Syndrome." Natural Life 2010: 34-6. ProQuest Research Library. Web. 29 Jan. 2012.

Layng, Jacqueline M. "THE ANIMATED WOMAN: The Powerless Beauty of Disney Heroines from Snow White to Jasmine." The American Journal of Semiotics 17.3 (2001): 197-215. ProQuest Research Library; ProQuest Social Science Journals. Web. 29 Jan. 2012.

Wloszczyna, Susan. "Disney Princesses Wear Merchandising Crown." USA TODAY: D.02. The Advocate (Stamford). Sep 17 2003. Web. 4 Feb. 2012 .

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