Captain's Blog - Stardate 60411.9
In anticipation of our upcoming trip to Walt Disney World, the four and a half year old niece asked me (through her grandmother, of course) who my favorite Princess is.
There is some backstory to this question. So far, this otherwise upfront and very self-aware four year old has been uninterested or intimidated by "characters." There are no pictures of her and the Easter Bunny and, while she thinks Santa Claus is a "nice man" she wanted nothing to do with him when he visited the local mall.
By now, everyone going on the trip (and many who aren't) are aware that the characters have always been my favorite part of the Disney experience. When I was in my single digits, my folks and I would find Mickey Mouse first thing. I would grab his hand, and pin myself to his side for family photos. Oh...not just my family photos. Every family's photos. Once I had Mickey in my grasp, I all but refused to leave. My mother likes to say that there are photos of seven year old me all over the world.
But which princess is my favorite? Hmm. That's a tough one. Of course, my answer to the four year old was that SHE is my favorite princess. And while that's true, they're still animating her film. So, until her Pixar debut, I will now consider my top five Disney princesses. And, to be fair, I am considering any character Disney has included as a "princess," including Esmerelda, Tinker Bell, and Mulan. If there toy is in the princess line, they're fair game.
5) Ariel: Surprising that she's so low on this list? It's a top five. Give me a break. Okay, so the Howard Ashman/Alan Menken team is fantastic, her film is the comeback of Disney and the start of my generation's relationship with these characters. But, her impetuous nature is not as empowering as I'd like, given her motivation. She's sort of the transition between the "dated" role of the princess and the soon to be "modern" vision.
4) Belle: Now here is where it really starts. Not only the incorporation of some rudimentary CGI (the ballroom scene) but a princess who is enamored with books, is quirky and odd, and unwilling to fall for the expectation of the perfect man at the cost of her integrity. She's got great music, and was also the first Disney princess to mount the charge to conquer the Broadway kingdom.
3) Anna/Elsa: Yup, I'm cheating, but as far as I'm concerned these two Disney women come as a pair. They are the Yin/Yang of princesses. One is light, one is dark. One is happy at everything, and one is severely depressed. One is a completely open book and one has a secret they're afraid to share. One is the impeccable Kristin Bell and the other also played a famous witch. I love the music, I love the story, I love everything about this movie. I definitely drank this movie's kool-aid and refuse to "Let it go!"
2) Esmerelda: Okay...you can argue she's not a princess. Where is HER cupcake in the Disney game? But as the female star of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, she is the voice of reason for believing in Quasimodo when others simply think he's a fool or a monster. She sees the good in him and has compassion for those in need. "God Help the Outcasts." Can we deal with that song for a minute?
1) Mulan: For starters, her movie is fantastic. Eddie Murphy as "Mushu" is where Shrek's Donkey came from. My favorite part of the story is how Mulan has expectations pushed upon her by tradition and culture, but she flies in the face of these expectations to be a strong, independent woman dedicated to saving her family. And she gets the guy. You know? I think I need to go watch Mulan.