Is Disney’s Princess Pandering Going Too Far?
Disney’s latest addition to the princess lineup ticks all the right representation boxes, yet still isn’t pleasing everyone. What’s going on?
Disney’s Princess Elena of Avalor is the latest and greatest addition to the company’s repertoire of royal heroines. She ticks all the right boxes when it comes to representation too. After all, the company has long been reproached for portraying a narrow-minded opinions of what princesses look like. However, for all the good quantities that Elena processes, she isn’t making everyone happy, and therein lies the problem.
Historically, Disney princesses fitted into a certain mold. In recent times though, the company has been a lot more active in branching out and offering less traditional characters the leading role. First came Pocahontas, then Mulan, all the way up to Tiana. This last princess is (so far) the only African-American princess in the lineup.
All this lead to demands for a princess of Latin-American origin, to which the company has duly acquiesced. Elena is described as a princess hewn from stronger stuff than her predecessors. Yet she remains a princess replete with all the trappings and downsides that such roles carry. Undoubtedly displeasing to some, it’s the economics of the matter that dictate such a role for a character deigned to sell lots and lots of merchandise around the world.
Where does this roll-call of princesses end? Even the Latina label gathers an entire continent under a single vision, ignoring the many, many differences between the countries that form it. It’s not too far removed from the notion that Merida is a Scottish princess representing all Celtic societies. Furthermore, if Disney is willing to accommodate Latin audiences, then why not African or Indian ones too? Do they not deserve the treatment, or do they simply not represent an appropriate amount of profitability for the company?
Disney’s fortunes with other princesses have never really encountered any problems in winning over viewers. Worldwide popularity is the order of the day. Which leads one to wonder why Disney is so eager in trying to accommodate diversity when many societies and cultures around the world remain staggeringly homogeneous. Dare I venture to say that the company, in adding another bow to its diversity arrow, is narrowing in ever further on more diverse, developed economies as opposed to less-diverse emerging ones?
Something to consider…