If you watch little children re-enact these stories or ask them to summarize the plot of the movie, or watch them when they're pretending to be a princess, or even look at the successful merchandise associated with the films, it's clear that to little girls, the prince is as essential to the Disney narrative as Ken is to Barbie's world--ie, a fun accessory or source of extra storylines, but not a central point at all.But should we be concerned about the messages these movies have, even if kids watching don't realize it? Belle was always one of my favorite princesses, because she reads and stuff. I dressed like her last year for Halloween, which was excellent and also appropriate for the school dance. One of my coworkers, though, pointed out that Beauty and the Beast is about, you know, loving a guy even if he's a beast. Because he'll turn out sweet on the inside! After he kidnaps you!
I wonder what would have happened if Ariel had come out as lesbian, for example. Would King Triton still lovingly oversee her wedding?Right?! Now, please recall that I have ALWAYS said that TLM is a coming-out allegory. Okay, the blog evidence is sketchy. But I definitely explained the concept of heteronormativity to a friend using the part of TLM in which King Triton finds out Ariel's in love, and he asks, "Ariel? In love? Who could the lucky merman be?" His language, in this case, is mermaid-normative. Don't you remember being uncomfortable about that, even as a kid? Because he's assuming she's dating a merman, and we know she's not. Just like I'm trying not to assume my friends are dating someone of the opposite gender. See how that works?
Anyway, Little Mermaid forever.