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Disney’s Racist Stereotyping and Gender Roles Remain Un-Tangled

Alas, Disney’s stated goal isn’t ending the helpless-princess theme; it’s making sure the movies have big enough audience appeal (read: appeal to boys and men).

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In addition to carrying on Disney’s tradition of problematic representations of race, the film also keeps with the tradition of framing females’ beauty obsession as evil and “creepy” (Flynn’s words) rather than as understandable in a world of Disneyfied feminine norms. A mirror worshipper to rival the evil queen in Snow White, Gothel is presented as a passive-aggressive nightmare -- the tyrannical single mother so overbearing the Rapunzel must beg for the opportunity to leave the tower.

To sum up, we have a film dominated by male characters that focuses on the magical golden hair of a white princess who must be saved from an evil dark witch. Yes, it’s funny, with strong dialogue and good songs. Yes, it’s a feast for the eyes. Yes, I love the fact Rapunzel has more verve and spunk than her princess predecessors. But, leading into their commitment to stop producing princess films and create films that supposedly appeal to a broad demographic, Disney still has not cut its ties to a white, male-privileged view of the world. Not even close.

A longer version of this appears at Girl With Pen.

Natalie Wilson is a literature and women’s studies scholar, blogger, and author. She is author of the blogs Professor, what if…? and Seduced by Twilight. Dr. Wilson is also part of the collaborative research group that publishes United States Military Violence Against Women and is currently working on an investigative piece on militarized sexual violence perpetuated against civilians.

 
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