Yesterday my mother-n-law took me and Kaya to Disney Princesses on Ice. Three generations of women attending GirlFest 2009 – and loving it. As far as the eye could see, there were little girls dressed in princess costumes – Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Belle, Snow White. Kaya, whose Cinderella dress is a little big on her, refused to wear it, opting for a frilly, hand-me-down flower girl dress that she calls her “Rapunzel Dress.” Whatever works, right?
The icecapade was a girl’s fantasy come true. All the princesses come to life, and Tinkerbell too. All wearing beautiful, poofy dresses. And all, of course, rescued by men.
This got me thinking. In 2000, a Disney exec had the bright idea of packaging all the princesses and selling princess paraphernalia – costumes, shoes, tiaras, books, stickers, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. They can slap the Disney Princess logo, which pictures any of the various five princess together, on just about anything and it suddenly becomes more marketable to little girls. Kaya even has a pink Tupperware box with Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and Belle on it. Believe me, the container would not have been very exciting to her except for the fact that a) it’s pink ,and b) it has the princesses on it.
The Disney Princess brand is now a $4 billion industry. And I believe it. At the ice show, vendors were selling plastic tiaras, flashing wands and cheap plastic cups – all with princesses on it – for $20 each. Talk about a royal rip-off! But of course, grandma wanted to buy our little princess something, and she walked out with a pink, flashing-light tiara. Because a girl can never have enough crowns.
Back to my Big Idea. As I was watching the ice skaters twirl and leap on the ice, I had a realization. If Disney could package all the princesses, why couldn’t they do the same for the princes? Sleeping Beauty has Prince Phillip, Ariel has Prince Eric, Cinderella has Prince…..Prince…Prince Charming? Snow White’s dude is nameless as well. Or just goes by the generic Charming. I started to see the problem. All of these guys, except for maybe Aladdin (who’s not even a real prince anyways) and the Beast, have ZERO personality. They are just background figures whose only job is to act studly, defeat the evil witch and kiss the princess.
So I thought, maybe it’s time they did have a back story of their own. People are making a fortune writing books about secondary characters that were never fully developed. There’s “Wicked,” which tells the story of the Wicked Witch of the West from “Wizard of Oz” and was turned into a Broadway musical, and “March,” a Pulitzer-prize winning tale of Mr. March from “Little Women.” Why not me?
I think I would start with Phillip and Eric, because for one they have names. You know one of them was definitely gay and forced to pursue the princess by his domineering father as a prerequisite to inheriting the throne. I mean, do straight men really sing that like? And wear tights? Or maybe it was Snow White’s Charming who was the gay prince. He was really after the dwarfs, but decided to do them a favor and kiss the Fair One and wake her up to win the little guys’ hearts. Especially Dopey. He was hot.
As for Eric, I think he was a terrible sailor but was made captain simply because he was the prince, and it was his fault they sailed into a storm and the boat was destroyed. He didn’t fall overboard, he jumped, because he was so destitute that he had failed at his job and these men drowned because of him. Ariel rescued him and he begged her to turn him into a Merman, a la “Splash,” so he wouldn’t have to face his father, who was a military hero and brave captain. Ariel refused. You fill in the blanks.
But the more I think about it, would little boys go for the princes like girls are drawn to the princesses? There has to be a lot more violence for boys to be interested. Sad but true. Maybe all the princes should be part of a gang roaming the countryside, and they are really aliens who can transform into…….princesses!
Excuse me while I go play “Beauty and the Beast” with Kaya. I have to be the Beast. I think I’ll pretend he’s a hairy, transvestite cross-dresser.