Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Bonus video links: Disney princesses

Lashings of Ginger BeerPosted by Lashings of Ginger Beer

If you enjoyed the Lashings Disney Princess sketch you'll probably like these videos, which I found via Sociological Images. Embedded videos and transcripts below the cut.

The little mermaid:

Ariel: My best feature is my voice!(sings) So I sold it for plastic surgery.

[Titles: Advice for young girls from a cartoon princess]

Ariel: Always have friends that are smaller than you so you can control them and make them do whatever you wanna do.

If you have a father that loves you, run away from him!

Junk is awesome! You should collect as much of it as you can, hide it – don't donate it. Steal things from people. It's OK! One person's junk is another person's ….. junk.

Don't ever talk to a man until he kisses you on the lips first. Then, as a woman, you're allowed.

When you do talk to men, they love baby talk: (baby voice) My, that's a big dingle-hopper! Will you put it in my wotsit?

You should always find a stranger to obsess over, and then genetically modify yourself for that stranger.

Never be comfortable in the body that you're given. If you don't like how you look....snip snip! Nothing wrong with that! I'm an ordinary human instead of being a beautiful princess mermaid, and I love that.

It is impossible to get rid of crabs.

Beauty and the Beast:

Belle: If you find a man who's big, and hairy, and beastly, and seems like he wants to hurt you..... but, he's got a lot of money and a really big house? Stick it out: you can change him!

[Titles: Advice for young girls from a cartoon princess]

Belle: Desire is when a man wants you so much that he's willing to yell at you and beat down your door and tell you, if you don't eat with him, you don't eat at all! It also kinda means he wants you to be skinny!

There was once a really hot successful man who was very goal-orientated and extremely popular who wanted to marry me? But, I didn't feel like it was enough of a challenge. Never settle for something that doesn't feel like it's a challenge.

I don't like the term “bestiality”. It sounds bleurgh. I like the term, “interspeciality”, because it sounds like “special”.

Find a man who wants to imprison you with his love! The longer that you're trapped with the same person, it'll start to feel like home. Stockholm!

You don't need to have fancy people friends! The things around your house can be your friends. Don't just sit on furniture. Talk to it! Candlesticks are really good at love advice – because they're French!

The key to love is to tolerate everything.

Oh God, everything.

The lesson here is, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. As long as the woman is goodlooking.


  1. I tend to feel uncomfortable with a lot of feminist commentary on The Little Mermaid - it resonates somewhat unpleasantly with the trans reading of the story. There's a good article on it here:

  2. That is a beautiful article, and some of the commenters really put their finger on why I related to Ariel so much more than most Disney Princesses, growing up.

    I can see how, taken in tandem with the feminist interpretation, someone saying "Ariel has a trans narrative / she gives up her personhood to fit someone else's ideals of womanhood" might be reinforcing a particularly nasty argument beloved of feminist transphobes everywhere. Is that what you mean, or am I missing your point?

  3. I strongly identified with Ariel as a child too, and I'm aware that she's an empowering figure for lots of trans women. I still get quite weepy watching "The Little Mermaid", and I love it for the courage it gave me at various times in my life.

    However, it does make me feel uncomfortable from a trans perspective, as well as from a general feminist perspective. If we consider Ariel as a trans woman, then the depiction of her reasons for transition (curiosity and the desire to 'get her man') might be said to make invisible the profound sense of gender dysphoria that many of us feel, and to buy into some common and dangerous tropes about trans people's motivations. The old story of someone transitioning out of a desire to enter into a heterosexual relationship only helps to depict queer sexualities as aberrant, and to promote the idea that trans people are just trying to 'solve' such sexualities (which are of course invariably made perfectly heteronormative by the act of transition...).

    A trans reading may also consider Ursula, a transgressive outcast (modelled on drag performer Divine), able to move freely between the worlds of land and sea. As an octopus person (or Cecaelian, Wikipedia tells me), Ursula's physicality combines female and male sexual imagery; the character's aim might be thought of as being to acquire phallic power while simultaneously retaining vulvic attributes - consider the climactic sequence in which Ursula first sucks Ariel down into a vortex and then blasts at her with a recently acquired trident. If Ursula is potentially a non-binary identified trans person, or at least a gender-transgressive person, then there's nothing especially trans-positive about the character's presentation as the villain, to be subdued and forced into binary role through penetration by a ship's hull.

    So, yes, I worry that the film's message (according to one trans reading) could be stated as a grudging acceptance of Ariel's right to transition, with a potentially problematic depiction of her motives, and with the provision that nobody should be allowed to break away from the binary.

  4. @Sebastienne A lot of the comments made about the messages about changing your body, running away from family etc don't account for the possibility that there are circumstances where those are reasonable things to do or might simply be necessary.

    Come to think of it, you don't even need a directly trans reading for that to be problematic, but it's sufficiently common that took the name it did for example.

    The film's still plenty problematic read that way, Sally's analysis is good. But it's not just making transition about "getting your man" that's a problem in critiques like above or , it's the implication that transition itself isn't okay.

  5. [My previous post appears to've got eaten, can't tell if that's technical or not]

    @Sebastienne If anything it's more basic than that - the critiques can read "the things involved in transition are all bad". I mean, who wouldn't sacrifice who they are to be normatively attractive and upper-class? Making it all about the guy doesn't help though.

  6. (So sorry this took us so long to get back to - we've been off at a Feminist Carnival in York all weekend..)

    Anon, I have your eaten comment in an email notification - do you want me to post any/all of it?

    I think I hadn't seen that "transition is bad" element to Little Mermaid critiques, because our song doesn't touch on those issues and I'd not actually seen many others (including not having watched the video in this post until I got home this morning!). After reading around the links in your eaten comment, I can completely see where you're coming from with this. In the context of the videos above, it's nasty to see a sarcastic "If you don't like how you look....snip snip! Nothing wrong with that!" like it's never the right choice, or a necessity. Thanks for calling us on it.

  7. I just wanted to put my hand up to having posted the original post. I wasn't sure whether to post as annalytica or as lashings as obviously the videos don't necessarily represent the views of everyone in Lashings, which I perhaps should have made clearer. They were something I found interesting and thought might generate some discussion, and I'm very glad that they have generated discussion because I find it really valuable to hear different perspectives on this. As a ciswoman (and someone who hasn't seen the Little Mermaid for quite a long time!) I hadn't thought of the trans interpretation so I'm grateful for being offered that way of looking at it.

  8. just found the eaten comment in the spam folder, sorry about that.

  9. "Never be comfortable in the body that you're given. If you don't like how you look....snip snip! Nothing wrong with that!" - yes, I find this one problematic too.

    While I believe that there are real criticisms to be made of the beauty industry for promoting an unachievable, idealised body image and indoctrinating women into trying to fit it, the quote above does seem to cross the line into criticising women for our choices and bodily autonomy. That's a sentiment I associate more with the beauty industry itself, rather than with the kinds of feminism I try to associate myself with. Bleh :(

    On a more positive note, I don't believe that the same criticism applies to the Lashings "Part of your World" filk. What do people think?

  10. I've always heard the Lashings song as being about Disney princesses in general, rather than specifically about Ariel.
    You could read it as critical of particular body types - small feet, tiny waist, large breasts, childlike face - but I think the intention was to critique the way that kind of body is held up as an ideal for all women to aspire to, rather than to criticise women who have that body type/try to achieve that body type.

  11. Yes, that sounds much the same as my reading of it too :)

  12. In case anyone reading this isn't familiar with the Lashings Disney Princess song, I am posting the lyrics here (with Lilka's permission). Written by Lilka, to be sung to the tune of Part of Your World.

    I wanna be what real people are
    Though you can see I was drawn for dancing
    Look at my tiny and highly impractical feet
    Face like a child, breasts like a porn star
    I'm the ideal that they're all romancing
    Waist is so small that my rib-ends must practically meet
    So I'm a doll, there to be seen,
    So I'm the princess of the silver screen
    Just fantasy
    Wish I could be
    A real girl

    I wanna swear, want to smoke and drink
    Maybe have sex before I'm married
    Or maybe before that I'd better make sure that I learn
    How to read, how to write, how to argue and think
    How to stand up, not just be carried
    Get a smalltime job and buy things with money I earn
    When's it my turn? Can't it be now?
    Can I escape their clutches somehow?
    FUCK fantasy!
    I'm gonna be
    A real girl