People have been poking holes in Disney Princess plot lines for a pretty long time. It’s no secret that the whole Prince-saves-a-Princess thing isn’t exactly, ugh, woke. Which forces us to ask the question: how do we pass our favourite childhood stories on to the next generation? Is it better for us to leave these toxic romance tropes in a time long, long ago, in a land far, far away?
This week, two Hollywood moms weighed in, sharing how they handle fairytales and feminism in their households. On The Ellen Show, Keira Knightley named the two Disney movies that her three-year-old daughter isn’t allowed to watch. “Cinderella is banned because, you know, she waits around for a rich guy to rescue her,” the Pirates of the Caribbean actress said. The Little Mermaid is off limits too—though she admits she’s “quite annoyed” about it because she really likes the film. “I mean, the songs are great, but do not give your voice up for a man. Hello!”
Kristen Bell has taken a different approach. The actress told Parents Magazine that she’s started a sort of bedtime bookclub with her three- and five-year-old daughters, making time to discuss each book after it’s been read. When it comes to one particular Disney fairytale, she puts forth a few questions: “Every time we close Snow White I look at my girls and ask, ‘Don’t you think it’s weird that Snow White didn’t ask the old witch why she needed to eat the apple? Or where she got that apple?’ I say, ‘I would never take food from a stranger, would you?’ And my kids are like, ‘No!’ And I’m like, ‘Okay, I’m doing something right,’” she says.
“Don’t take food from strangers” is fairly basic kid stuff. But there’s another scene in the story that Bell has a problem with. “Don’t you think that it’s weird that the Prince kisses Snow White without her permission? Because you cannot kiss someone if they’re sleeping!” she tells them.
Working on a children’s book has caused Bell to realize just how outdated some children’s literature really is. Lucky for her daughters—not to mention the rest of us—Anna, the brave princess Bell voices in Frozen, shows her strength through sisterhood. And when there is a romantic moment at the end of the film, the eligible bachelor asks the eligible princess if he may kiss her.
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