I’m going to start this series with an easy one. Who doesn’t have an opinion on the Disney Princesses? I doubt mine will be shared, but hopefully it will be fun to read. 🙂 I’d be happy to have other opinions shared in the comments (love it, in fact) as long as everyone remembers to be respectful. Which is not a problem I’ve ever had with Disney fans, who are on the whole a pretty respectful crew.
#5: Is a tie between Mulan and Rapunzel. I really honestly cannot decide between the two of ’em. I think the first controversy here will probably come out of my ranking Rapunzel so low on this list, because I know she’s MAJORLY popular; and I like her, I do, but she didn’t push the “love” buttons the way the others who rank on here did. Besides, at least she’s on the list. 😉
First of all, Mulan. I actually don’t officially consider her to be a Disney Princess, which is part of why I can’t commit to her being straight-up #5. But she’s in the Princess line, so here she is. I like her for having the backbone that she has, for rising above her culture’s role for women – not only what is expected of her but what she really feels she is supposed to be and the only thing that will bring honour to her family – and finding a way to turn that on its ear by going out to in her father’s place. I like her resourcefulness and stubbornness. If she were an actual Princess, and I didn’t feel like I was cheating a little by having her on this list, I’d probably rank her more like #4. 🙂
As for Rapunzel, there is a lot to like, most of it in her sheltered and naive outlook. Punzie (I swear I didn’t make that nickname up) and her joie de vivre are infectious and adorable, and I love when she freaks out over things. I LOVE it. 😀 Her quick mind and her will to take a chance and do what she wants to do – even though she feels appallingly guilty for it – are charming and I don’t blame all the ‘Duckling’ patrons for falling head over heels for her. 😉 I think what keeps Punzie a bit too low on my list is that I didn’t care for the pacing of the movie, which to me was a little too frenetic with a few too many “fast-paced-screwball-stop-and-look-at-each-other-COMEDY!” moments. So that cut into the character some for me, too. Again, I’m sure (in fact, I know) a LOT of people disagree with me and that’s totally cool. 🙂
#4: Belle. Actually this is very close to a tie with #3, to the point where I’ve gone back and forth on the order a couple of times now. But I’m pretty sure I’m sticking with this one. *G* So, there is so much to love about Belle. Her refusal to settle, her genuine compassion for others, her intellect, her close bond with her father, her selflessness. When one points out the “refusal to settle” one has to specify that this isn’t just with Gaston: she won’t let herself be pushed into submission by the Beast, either. As scary as he is, she won’t be cowed into doing whatever he says. He yells and she yells back. There is also an improvement, in my opinion, on her fairytale progenitor: Beauty/Belle in the storybooks has always been described as, essentially, kind and loving to everyone. And that’s about it. Disney’s Belle is undeniably kind, and loving to her father, and unfailingly polite when not being openly mistreated (ie by a roaring and irrational beast), but she keeps people at arm’s length. As in Gaston, whom she clearly dislikes but will not directly insult. As long as he’s playing nice, she is polite as well, but the end result is that the guy can’t take a hint. I would think that Belle and the Beast’s initial antagonism is probably a great, great help in their relationship because it leaves them both knowing precisely where they stand, and knowing that since they have no ill feelings left to hide from each other, anything else that follows is genuine. Where does she fall below #3 ranking, for me? It’s a hair’s margin and no specific thing makes her fall down the list, but in general there’s just the fact that her relationship with the Beast progresses so darned quickly. This is largely due to the time constraints, but in the end I don’t really feel quite like we come out fully understanding her character as well as we could.
#3: Jasmine. Now, when I was younger, I didn’t really like Jasmine. I didn’t like her actress, for one, and I also just wasn’t as taken with her character. But honestly, I’ve thought back on this and I seriously cannot remember what made me feel that way. I remember not being into her but I don’t remember any reasons why. Anyhow, as an adult and rewatching the first movie, I really like her. She’s a character who, similar to Rapunzel, has been sheltered her whole life and has never left the walls in which she spends her days. She has no concept of the outside world and doesn’t want to resign herself to what feels like, to her, captivity. But where Rapunzel has a cheery, sweet, naive demeanour, Jasmine has a fiery temper and a rebellious streak (in spite of doting on her father, whom she utterly adores and has almost wrapped around her finger). She is ridiculously smart and learns incredibly quickly, she’s super-confident, and relies on herself in spite of having an upbringing where everyone wanted to do everything for her. One of my favourite things about her is how much she hates to be underestimated – whether that is by being treated as a mindless object, being overprotected, or being lied to (even with good intentions).
#2: Rather new, but again ALMOST tied with number one, is Tiana. Up until I saw “The Princess and the Frog”, most of my fave princesses were pretty much set in stone, but Tiana very quickly jumped up towards the top of the list. Even now, there are aspects of her that I would put as my favourite, but she’ll never quite beat out my #1. However, Tiana has so much going for her, I can’t even really break it down. I do love beyond measure the fact that she is, I believe, the first Disney female to save her prince – to directly save him, not once, but twice! She saves him from frog hunters (and he then saves her in return), and in the end, she is the one to defeat the villain! Naveen is powerless against the bad guy, but Tiana faces him down and puts the kibosh on him once and for all. Her story with Naveen is adorable, too. Any girl who can soften the heart of a playboy who chases down girls the way he does has got something strong going for her, you know? So once again, Tiana is largely a grouping of all my favourite traits that have already been mentioned: brave, strong, smart, determined, not willing to settle for what other people plan for her. Plus she has the bestest dress of any of them. GOD, that DRESS.
#1: My number one is, and has been for many years, Ariel. Somewhere in the mid-to-late 90s I went over the Disney films released up to that point and I definitely had to rank TLM as my favourite; the rest have sort of shuffled their way around, but TLM has stayed strong at #1. Watching the movie now I’m just struck by what a trailblazer Ariel was. She was the first Disney Princess since Aurora in the 50s, and the first to really go headlong after what she wanted instead of wishing and waiting for it to come to her. She was the first to pursue her Prince instead of being pursued. She was the first to take her destiny into her own hands instead of just having it happen. Plus there is so much about her, so much naive sensuality and exuberance, so much vitality and beauty, she takes my breath away. My favourite scenes in that movie are unfailingly when she is finding her way in the human world, but gosh, I still cry during “Part of Your World” (both versions) and when she comes out of the sea at the end in that sparkling dress. There are a lot of complaints you can have about that movie, and I am sure I haven’t even heard them all, and I don’t think they are invalid; but to me, Ariel’s flaws and the mistakes that she makes (and she has, and makes, a lot) are a part of her appeal and help to make her a more convincing and ultimately sympathetic character. I care about her more because she does so many things wrong, but only because she wants so badly. I can relate. No, I never ran away from home and I certainly never sold my voice to anyone, but I’ve done some really, really stupid things – many of them at age 16 – for things that at the time seemed so incredibly important. And realizing just how stupid I’d been was a painful experience, but it all made me stronger and wiser, and I believe that’s what we’re supposed to take away from Ariel’s story as well. (It’s too bad her relationship with Eric is so underexplored, really. Because honestly, Ariel’s relationship with her father is WAY more interesting than her relationship with Eric.)
Aaaand that’s it! Next week, probably the Princes, but maybe I’ll surprise myself with something else. 😀 Comments? Agree, disagree? Please let me know!