Wednesday, November 24, 2010

And someone saved them

E has been antsy to see the new Rapunzel movie that comes out this weekend since the very minute she heard about it. It's not called Rapunzel, it's called "Tangled," and the reason is that the movie-makers wanted it to have a gender-neutral title so boys wouldn't be disenfranchised so quickly as they might by knowing they were seeing a princess movie.

That it's a princess movie is, of course, exactly why E wants to see it.

E is very into princesses right now. It's typical for her age but it makes me skittish. Too many typical princess stories paint the female protagonist as helpless, or worse, reliant on her beauty. The princess message makes me nervous but E is drawn to the fantasy. I think she enjoys the make-believe of a world where she has no anxiety, where solutions can be found by twirling a fancy dress.

And it's interesting that I worry about the messages she derives from the princess tales, the studios are disbanding the princess formula altogether. In their eyes, E is already too old for princesses and should be fawning over Hannah Montana or something similar and more mature. Since princesses are still on the risque end of E's cultural exposure, I guess I've succeeded at something. Who knew childhood was such a hard thing to protect.

With reservations, we'll probably take her to see Tangled, and I won't really be sad that there won't be an annual sequel to the formulaic princess trope. She'll be a child of the post-princess era, and none of us yet knows what that means, but she and her friends and siblings will have to craft new definitions of heroes.

I was heartened about this today when she brought home the latest book she crafted in school. She makes these books all the time. She makes her drawings (in today's book, based on some new animal stencils they had out) and then asks her teacher to spell the words she needs for the narrative. Today's book was three pages with a sympathetic character, a crisis, and a happy ending:

One day a bunny was hopping along.

The lion was chasing the bunny.

And someone saved them.

She read it to me, and pointed to the last page. See her? she said. That's me. I save the bunny. Do you like the blue crown I'm wearing?

So she's a princess, but the whole story is that she's a princess-animal rescuer-writer/illustrator. I'm okay with that kind of dreaming. Pin It