Can I just say that I think this is the way Mulan should appear int the parks. In the beginning of the movie they make it very clear that the dress she wears to meet the matchmaker is not comfortable nor does it represent her personality. She spends the whole of the film proving that she is not a prize to be won or just a pawn to be married off at earliest convenience. She proves her worth in this outfit. She saves China in this outfit. She falls in love in this outfit. She risks her life, makes her strongest friendships, and changes the entire country IN THIS OUTFIT. Then they have her walk around the park in the same outfit she wore in the first scene of the movie and I think it is really negative toward her character. That is not who she is.
I’ve seen this post pop up on my dash time and time again, and it’s never quite sat right with me. I agree 120% with the idea that the pink “matchmaker dress” is a poor way to represent Mulan in the theme parks, but… so is her soldier armor. It’s just as much not who she is as the pink dress. It represents her pretending to be Ping, and her deceiving everyone around her. It is her pretending to be a man, to be someone else entirely. Honestly, if you want to talk about the outfit that best represents her, I’d suggest this one:
The outfit she wore when she defeated Shan Yu. That is who Mulan is; a warrior, but still a woman. It displays all of the strength that she truly has, yet still manages to be true to who she truly is. This it the outfit that she changed the entire country in; would anything have changed if she was still pretending to be a man? I doubt it. This proves that a woman can be strong, but still be feminine. Given that many people tend to equate being feminine with weakness, I think portraying that the two are not mutually exclusive is a damn powerful message to be portraying to kids in theme parks.
Just my two cents.
(Source: Flickr / klingon65)
Microaggressions tumblr’s post about the Disney Princess lunchbag reminded me to go to the Disney Store website to see what has resulted from the franchise’s recent redesign. It was cool to see a diverse array of kids playing with the toys on the website (although it’d be cool to see some boys playing with some of the Princess stuff, alongside the girls, too.)
This designed rolled out alongside the Cinderella blu-ray release. You can tell the merchandise is from the new “generation” because Cinderella has a different hairstyle (loose bangs), Jasmine’s earrings are different, and Belle has substantially more hair. (Note that in the film Cinderella has light brown hair and wears a white dress; in merchandise she usually has bright blonde hair and a blue dress.)
The vast majority of merchandise features multiple white princesses, usually in the forefront. Princesses of color may or may not be included, when they are included there is usually only one of them, even when there are more than one of them they are usually in positioned the background or off to the side.
While several items of merchandise feature a group of white Princesses, no items of merchandise as part of the Dinsey Princess product line feature Princesses of color. (Which would be different and heck, I’d buy it.)
There are even several outfits modeled by young black girls that do not feature Princess Tiana and instead feature a cluster of white princesses + Jasmine. There’s even an outfit modeled by an Asian girl that only features white princesses. (That’s not to say that girls of color can’t be fans of the princesses who are white, only to say that it is bizarre that the models are more diverse than the merchandise and that it’s odd that there is no outfit with only princesses of color modeled by a white girl, for example.)
Each product’s design positions the princesses differently, so this is not the case of using the same picture for several different pieces of merchandise. More pictures of merch here.
This merchandise can and does send implicit messages to kids. Disney…you just redesigned your merchandise and the women of color are still absent or on the margins.
I was in the Disney store at the mall yesterday and as usual I gaze at all of the merchandise for my favorite character, Mulan. But as usual, I see her featured exclusively in this particular outfit, her “matchmaking” clothes. It actually frustrates me a bit to see her constantly marketed and commodified in this outfit because it’s the outfit that she feels least comfortable with wearing and the one which embodies everything about her journey that she’s trying to leave behind. But of course, because it’s the most “princess-like” and the most feminine, it has to be the outfit that is sold, as if it’s supposed to be her most iconic look. Not only that, but she’s in these clothes for maybe fifteen minutes at most, and only in the beginning. There should be dolls and representations of her in her training uniform, in her soldier’s armor, in short hair, in any of the several other outfits in the movie that better illustrate who Mulan is.
The merchandise intentionally plays down Mulan’s heroic journey in order for her to conform to the “princess” label. Merchandizing her in only this outfit inadvertently erasing all of Mulan’s heroic qualities rather than allow her to stick out amongst the “Disney princesses” to show a more well-rounded group of women.
Characters voiced by black men get a pretty decent amount of screen time in animated films these days, often being the main sidekick on the hero or heroes’ journey to success, being present virtually every step of the way. Some people would argue that this is a step forward for black entertainers.
“Afro Circus” is simply the most recent in a long line of public displays of buffoonery that is reducing the “black” character to one-dimensional comic relief in animated films. In every installment of the Madagascar series, Chris Rock’s character, Marty the Zebra, has been a Frankenstein of stitched-together comic tropes, lending very little actual characterization to the character. Marty is constantly the butt of some joke or another, and when he isn’t its some other character voiced by POC, in this case the lemurs. Then there’s Chris Rock’s character in Bee Movie. A mosquito on his way to Alaska for moose blood that will, quote, “blow your head off.” His only purpose in that movie is comic relief while the main character has a crisis.
Some of you may be saying “Well hang on a minute, Theo! You’re just picking on Chris Rock! Surely there are other black actors out there who voice characters that can be taken seriously!”
Alright, anonymous voice from nowhere, let’s look at one of the most prolific black actors of all time: Eddie Murphy. If anyone can be taken seriously, it’s going to arguably the most successful POC in Hollywood, right?
When people think of Mulan, what image springs to mind? Sure, first of all there’s the strong female POC lead who bucks against gender norms and societal constraints and that’s fantastic. But then there’s Eddie Murphy, who brings what, exactly, to the table?
That’s right, dishonor. By allowing the “black” character to be reduced to, say it with me now, a Minstrel Show.
And what about his role in Shrek, which is arguably one of the most successful animated films of the last decade or so.
Waffles. His character is defined, in actual legitimate official promotional material, by waffles.
And the list goes on!
“But Theo! What about ‘black’ characters who AREN’T ridiculous minstrel shows?” Good point, anonymous voice from nowhere! What about them?
You know, I honestly can’t remember any.
Seriously, I can’t. And the only one I’ve managed to find by searching is Bloog from Open Season. And the only reason I can include him is because he isn’t constantly a minstrel show. He’s a walking black stereotype in the form of a bear, and I can’t decide which is worse!
I defy you to find me a “black” character from an animated film produced in the last 10 years that isn’t some form of ridiculous farce. Hollywood is being whitewashed, and when it isn’t the POC characters are only there for comic relief or to serve as some sort of cultural guide so that the white characters can feel deservedly guilty for their whiteness.
Oh these are beautiful…
FUCKING SOURCES PEOPLE! Don’t just post stuff without referencing the artist! IT’S NOT THAT HARD.
Edit: Sorry, I don’t blame everyone who reblogged this, but rather the person who first posted this without artist credit, or anyone who may have deleted the source.
Pocket Princesses 3: Summer Cut
Yeah, I want this to be a weekly thing. Every Friday night :)
SHORT HAIR IS SEXY