Film Theory: The Disney Princess Problem (Wreck It Ralph 2)

Film Theory: The Disney Princess Problem (Wreck It Ralph 2)

*Car engine* Matthew: Ohhh, I’m so nervous. Mickey Mouse: Ohh boy thank you! We’ll be in touch! Haha! NEXT! Matthew: Oh boy, looks like its my turn. Wish me luck, ladies! *Stomps* *THUD* Matthew: My name is Mathew Patrick and- Mickey Mouse: NEXT! Matthew: But- Mickey Mouse: NEXT! Matthew: Uhh, excuse me, but I- Mickey Mouse: I said…(deeper voice) NEXT! (Normal voice) I’m the mouse. You listen to what I say, theory boy, and you listen GOOD! You’ll NEVER be a Disney princess based on our qualifications. HAHA! Matthew: But, what are those qualifications? Mickey Mouse: It’s Walt’s little secret! You don’t think our old racist movies are the only thing we keep looked up in the Disney vault, do ya? HAHA! Matthew: FINE! You just wait, mouse! It’s time I air your dirty little secrets. *DRAMATIC MUSIC x1,000,000,000,000 HELLO, internet! Welcome to Film Theory, Making enemies with globally beloved mascots since 2015! Today I look at one of the most twisted And cutthroat cinematic universes ever conceived: The Disney Princesses. All to answer on burning question that we all never thought to ask: “What allows you to qualify as a Disney princess?” Now that may sound like it’s a stupid question. You’re a princess, who happens to be in a Disney movie, DUH! But the answer, actually, is nowhere near that simple. You see, despite me going to Disneyland hundreds of times And constantly being the old creepy dude who waves enthusiastically To all the princesses as they parade past, What actually got me started down this little vision quest of mine Was the trailer for Wreck-It Ralph 2: Ralph Breaks The Internet, Which included this scene where Princess Vanellope Von Schweetz Goes to Oh My Disney website and enters the Disney Princess room. Pocahontas: What kind of a princess are you? Rapunzel: Do you have magic hair? Elsa: Magic hands? Vanellope: No Cinderella: Do animals talk to you? Rapunzel: Do people assume all your problems got solved because a big, strong man showed up? Vanellope: YES! Everyone: She IS a princess! Cue everyone the internet collectively high fiving each other for that sick burn on male prince-types. GOT EM! *mic drop/feedback/clap* Well, you got em until you forget that Princes have literally risked their lives to save multiple women in this room. Jasmine, Ariel. Yeah, Aurora. You did a real good job fighting back Maleficent, When she created that moat of thorns around the castle, And then turned into a giant dragon, And started breathing green fire everywhere. Oh, wait, no. You were asleep during that whole thing. It was Prince Phillip who did all that. Just sayin’ gals, It’s one thing to be an empowered female. It’s another thing to be an ungrateful jerk towards the guy who saved your life. Now this scene is legitimately awesome. Any crossover of this caliber is always going to exciting. It is a literal ‘Who’s Who?’ of Disney female characters from over the decades. But, one thing it is not Is an accurate portrayal of Disney princesses. You see, the Disney Princesses is a separate media franchise created in the early 2000’s. It’s like the NSYNC of Disney animated female characters. And, believe it or not, It includes only a very select portion of the princess characters. From the animation studio’s nearly hundred year history, Only 11 characters are technically included as a Disney princess. Pause the video right now, And try to guess who those characters are going to be. I’ll give you a second or two to pause the video. Alright, placed your bets? Good! Some are pretty obvious: Snow White, Cinderella, Aurora a.k.a Sleeping Beauty, Ariel from The Little Mermaid, Belle from Beauty and the Beast, and Jasmine from Aladdin. If this were a game of Scrabble, They’d be worth 1 point, They’re like the ‘T’s and ‘E’s of the Disney Princess world. Worth 3 points would be: Mulan, Tiana from Princess and the Frog, and Rapunzel from Tangled. Those are the ‘M’ and ‘P’ tiles. And the 10 pointerzees of our game would be: Pocahontas, and Merida, The first Pixar princess, coming from the movie Brave. DOUBLE WORD SCORE!!! Now, you may have noticed some pretty big snubs from that list, Like, say, Anna and Elsa from Frozen. Literal princesses from Arendelle in what is the highest grossing animated film of all time. No, invite to this exclusive club for them! How about Moana, also not on the list? And it’s not like they’re too new either. Most of the modern characters were coronated as an official Disney princess about a year after the release of their movie. Rapunzel, Tiana, Merida. All of them had about an 11 to 12 month gap Before they were officially christened a Disney princess. And remember! This list is according to the official list Located at, An official site of! This is the real deal here! So, what’s going on exactly? What in Disney’s eyes makes a woman worthy of being a princess, And would Vanellope von Schweetz actually pass the test, And merit inclusion in this room from Wreck-it Ralph 2? That, ladies and gentlemen, is my
goal today: To turn these empowered women into lists of their core attributes, So we can directly compare their worth, And find out what methodology Disney is
working with to determine their merit! So, if we have any hope of figuring out the
criteria for becoming a Disney Princess, We’re gonna have to reverse engineer
things by seeing who’s included, Who’s excluded, and then figuring out
what attributes unite those two groups. Now as I just mentioned, the exclusion of
Anna and Elsa from this group shows that Not all princesses in Disney movies go
on to become Disney Princesses trademark. But, that leads to the question: Are all Disney Princesses trademarked actual princesses in Disney movies? In other words: Are they either the daughter of a king or queen, Or are they married to a prince? Well of the eleven, nine of them are easy. YES! But, two, Pocahontas and Mulan,
require a bit more digging. For Pocahontas, her father- (Ugh.. I hate these moments when I copy/paste a hard name into a script, And then come
across it later in the recording closet, Suddenly remembering that I have to
pronounce the darn thing) Her father, Wahunsenacawh, was a powerful chief of the Sen-nah-ka-ma-ka? Was a powerful chief of the Tsenacommacah Confederacy. So, she’s the daughter to a high-ranking ruler, Ruler for lack of a better term, Which would seem to qualify her as a princess, However, there’s a wrinkle here. Pocahontas’ tribe didn’t have patrilineal inheritance, Which means that Wahunsenacawh’s
sister’s children Would be the ones next in line to
inherit any actual power, not Pocahontas. That said, even though she falls into
this weird middle ground of princess-dom History seems to weigh in her favor. In 1808, James Nelson Barker wrote The Indian Princess, Or La Belle Sauvage, One of the first dramatizations of Pocahontas’ life. Even earlier than that,
St. George’s churchyard, Where Pocahontas was buried, Hosted the notice of the burial, of Princess Pocahontas, And later the churchyard was laid out as the Princess Pocahontas garden in 1958. So, even though it does fall into a bit of a
middle ground, Consensus does seem to say that Pocahontas can qualify as a princess. As for Mulan, Weeeeell, Not so much. If you’re judging her by her main movie
alone, she technically doesn’t qualify at all Remember, Mulan is a commoner who enlists in the Chinese military to protect her father. Sure, she saves all of China from the Huns and falls in love with Captain Shang, But nothing about that qualifies you for the technical definition of a princess. It’s not until the direct-to-dvd sequel Mulan II, where, if you squint really hard at it, She becomes a princess for like maybe five minutes. You see, Mulan is hired to escort three of the Emperor’s daughters to be married off to three princes. Historically speaking, these guys would
be better classified as warlords, but- It’s Disney!! So they’re princes and the
marriages will help ensure peace in China. When her love Shang falls off a
cliff into a giant empty abyss- -No joke this is something that really happens- -Mulan assumes what any reasonable person would assume seeing a fall like that, That he dead son! (?) So she agrees to marry one of the
princes for the good of all China, So she’s almost a princess, until Shang is
revealed to have lived! He hears of the marriage and rushes in at the last minute to stop it, Thereby ending Mulan’s entire claim to princess hood before it even begins. So Mulan, No, not a princess. Almost, but not quite. So Mulan really proves the lesson here that being an actual princess doesn’t matter for qualification into this elite group and
if you want a real nail in this coffin Mulan was included in the roster of
disney princesses back when the group was first created in 2000. Mulan 2 came
out in 2004. So there is absolutely zero way that Mulan would have qualified any
angle that you slice it from so being the dictionary definition of a princess
does not matter apparently. Then what does? What connects those eleven
characters but still leaves out Moana, Anna, Elsa, not to mention other classic Disney females like Meg from Hercules, Esmerelda from Hunchback of Notre Dame and even Princess Eilonwy from 1985’s the
Black Cauldron. A literal princess who is based in Welsh fairy tales and was
saving the male protagonist of her story three decades before any of the strong
women of modern Disney rolled into town. I mean my mind immediately turned to box
office performance since those last three movies underperformed at the
theaters but clearly that doesn’t apply to Moana and Frozen. Heroic acts? Clearly
not since Moana has more heroism in her little toe than Aurora who spends 90% of
her movie asleep. In fact it’s Merida from Brave who
throws a monkey wrench into a lot of the qualifications you might expect to work
here. I mean that is the entire premise of her movie. Her queen mother attempts
to convince Merida to be a perfect princess and Merida fights back, “I’m the
princess. I’m the example. My whole life is planned out. But every once in a while there’s a day when I don’t have to be a princess.” First of all, like I mentioned earlier, Merida was the first Pixar princess so being part of
Disney Animation Studios to be a Disney princess is no longer a qualifier here
which just shows you how ridiculous these qualifications must be secondly
she was the first official Disney Princess to not have any sort of
romantic attachment every other one of those eleven characters have themselves
a beau. Sometimes hunky, sometimes chunky, but there was always a man present. Merida? Nope. But the last difference here is probably the biggest one. Merida doesn’t
sing I mean sure there’s a song about her in
the opening of the movie but Merida herself doesn’t sing a single note in
her entire film while every other Disney Princess up to that point had. So what is
it? What is this magic ingredient that I’m missing?
And how does Moana miss the mark? I mean I can maybe understand Anna and Elsa. Elsa by the end of her movie becomes Queen and Anna’s in her shadow the whole movie
and let’s face it two pale-faced princesses from the icy north aren’t the
most diverse additions to your princess roster. But Moana literally checks off
all the boxes: she’s the heir apparent to her father’s chiefdom (maybe not a
princess in name but certainly a princess in function), that she sings and
gets her own main theme song, she performs heroic acts, she selected as
special by fate, she represents a culture and ethnicity not present in the existing
11 character roster, her movie made a butt ton of money and it came out more
than a year ago meaning that her coronation is long past due at this
point. I mean even her movie spells it out for her: Maui: It’s called wayfinding, princess. Moana: OK, first I’m not a princess. I’m the daughter of the chief. Maui: Same difference. Moana: No. Maui: If you wear a dress, and you have an animal sidekick, your a princess! W-w-wait a minute. I-is that really it?! I mean, sure, it’s a joke, but it’s being told directly to a character who has obviously not met this invisible bar to
being a Disney princess. Which I gotta admit makes the subtext for this scene
really weird but even though this meta joke is played for laughs,
Maui here might not be joking. When Andy Mooney, creator of the Disney Princess
initiative, was interviewed by the New York Times about how he came up with the
idea of grouping together the princesses he had this to say, quote, “Standing in line
in the arena of a Disney on Ice Show I was surrounded by little girls dressed
head-to-toe as princesses. They weren’t even Disney products, they were generic
princess products they’d appended to a Halloween costume and the light bulb
went off. Clearly there was a latent demand here. So the next morning I said
to my team, “OK, let’s establish standards and a color
palette and talk to licensees and get as much product out there as we possibly
can that allows these girls to do what they’re doing anyway: projecting
themselves into the characters from these classic movies.” end quote.
Translation: let’s monetise the heck out of the hopes and dreams of these young
impressionable girls. But what if the only two qualifications are: one dress
and two animal, let’s look at our list of candidates again. Pocahontas? Dress and Meeko the raccoon and Flit the hummingbird. Ariel? dress and Flounder the fish. Jasmine? Dress and Rajah the tiger. Mulan? Dress and Mushu the dragon. Rapunzel? Dress
and Pascal the chameleon. Tiana? Dress and Lois the crocodile. Belle? Dress and
Philippe the horse (or I guess you can consider the Beast himself). Cinderella?
Dress and her mice Jaq and Gus. Snow White and Sleeping Beauty? Sresses and
general woodland creatures. Merida? Dress and
Angus the horse, and now let’s look at that excluded list. Meg from Hercules? No
animal. Princess Eilonwy from Black Cauldron? No animal. Esmerelda from
Hunchback? OK she’s got herself a dress and a goat, but she’s also an outlaw
who’s treated as an object of sexual desire by the men in the movie soooo she’s
got a couple other things working against her in this qualification. Anna
Elsa? Sure they have Olaf, but he’s technically not an animal and honestly
they do make the cut when it comes to a separate list of Disneyland theme park
princesses, in which they’re the only new additions. Quite frankly animal plus
dress is the only set of qualifications that clearly delineates the princesses
from the not princesses. But that still leaves out Moana. What about her? She
clearly has Heihei the rooster so what’s holding her back? It’s the dress.
Despite what Maui might call her outfit, first off it’s technically not
addressed by dictionary definition which is a one-piece garment for a woman or
girl that covers the body and extends down to the legs. However, Jasmine from Aladdin also doesn’t wear a traditional dress for
most of her movie so that’s not the main problem going on here. What is the issue
is what Moana’s dress represents. Consider this according to an interview with the
site Tyranny of Style, Neysa Bové, visual development artist and key costume
designer for Moana, emphasizes the goal of staying true to Pacific Islander
culture, quote, “The biggest challenge on the film was the limited materials. We
only had two, ‘tapa’ and ‘pandanus.’ Tapa is made from the mulberry tree bark. They
pull out the bark and go through a strenuous process of making a paste and
eventually tap it all together hence ‘tapa.’ Similar story with the
pandanus weaving. Pandanus is actually a tree and they pull the pandanus leaves
and shred them into strips. These dry and later you take each piece and weave it
together. You can even braid it! We had a specific rule, if you can find it in the
island, you can make it.” end quote. Staying true to the materials, history and
culture of the Pacific Islands was essential for this movie and its
characters. Now look at the eleven existing princesses. Each and every one
wearing pretty generic attire that alludes to their culture of origin
vaguely at best. Times are different now and Disney is under more scrutiny than
ever about its appropriation of other cultures for money. It’s an issue that
hung over the head of Moana from before the movie’s release and
continues to do so today, with specific focus on the costumes. And if the goal of
all the Disney Princesses is to have young girls wear your dress and look
like the character, Moana’s outfit, while terrifically designed and culturally
sensitive from a movie standpoint, becomes really problematic when you
start churning out cheap copies to sell next to your malls Sunglass Huts. So what
makes a princess? Well according to Disney it’s not who you are, what you do
or even who you choose to marry. It’s what you wear that counts, and isn’t that
the best message to send to little girls. Next time in our exploration of Disney
Princesses, we focus on that specific scene from Wreck-it Ralph 2 because the
roster is much wider in that room all in an effort to determine whether Vanellope
might truly become Disney’s next princess, despite what all the other
girls might tell her. Speaking of what you wear, theorist merch is now available
for a super limited amount of time. Just in the nick of time for back-to-school
you are guaranteed to get it really quickly after you order it. Admittedly
this round of merch is mainly focused around Game Theory. But don’t worry, next
time there will be Film Theory stuff specifically. But if you want yourself an
amazing heavy-duty backpack, an awesome shirt that might not make you feel like
a princess but will make you feel like a million bucks, what has become my
favorite pair of socks because of how soft they are. A theorist pop-socket for
your phone so you don’t drop it on your face while you’re watching Disney movies
lying in bed at night OR a theorist notebook of your very own that might
contain a mystery for you to unravel. Click the link in the description below.
Hey, you can tell a disney princess by what they wear, why not be able to tell
a theorist by what they wear as well. Looking stylish in bright glaring neon
green, I’d like to see a Disney Princess pull that one off. Click the link in the
description to check out that merch, which every purchase comes with little
bonus gifts sealed in there too, which is pretty cool, we like to sprinkle in little surprises for you guys. Make sure you curtsy in the direction of that subscribe button so you don’t miss next week’s episode
where we take an analysis of Vanellope Von Schweetz in time for Wreck-It
Ralph 2. I’m excited about that one. Anytime you get to expose blatant
corporate greed, it’s usually a pretty exciting time. It’s an episode that I’m always very excited
to do, so anyway check it out, click the subscribe button and most importantly of all, remember that’s just a theory. A Film Theory aaaaannnnnd cut.

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  1. 1) tiana had two sidekicks you forgot ray the firefly and 2) why did you keep on sending shots for sleeping beauty it was hilarious

  2. Wait… to those who are a bit into LOTR, does this means Lúthien could be Disney princess? She wears a dress, AND she has a giant dog as companion. What a mess… should Disney maybe begin thinking Tolkien?

  3. I think we are all forgetting the REAL Disney princes…Bakugou Katsuki (BNHA). Proof:

  4. She won't make it in. She isn't old enough for Mickey's harem. Ever wonder why most of the prince's don't have names? There. All. Mickey.

  5. Me: A unicorn?
    Matpat:not a animal!
    Me:a living snowman?
    Matpat: nothing close to a animal!
    Me: well then dragon isn't a anim..
    Matpat:Dragon is a animal!

  6. Personally one of my favorite Disney heroines and one that everyone seems to forget about is Giselle from "Enchanted". Just like Mulan she was mere seconds away from being an official Disney princess, before it was cut due to her being pushed down a well. However, if the qualifications to be a Disney princess only includes having an animal sidekick and to wear a dress, Giselle definitely qualifies, she had like a billion animal friends in the movie, with Pip being her main animal sidekick, and she had a lot of outfit changes throughout the movie, which were all dresses, that she practically made herself, I think the main reason why she was never considered an official Disney princess is because if she was Disney would have to pay royalties to Amy Adams and the other cast members, since the movie is half cartoon and half live action. But to me that's really dumb, if Mulan is considered a Disney princess, Giselle has all the rights to be considered one too…

  7. Coco could be related to toy story because there is a pizza planet truck passing Miguel's window and on his way to the Plaza there are toy story stuffed animals woody, buzz, and the three alien dudes

  8. You know how the first, the queen of all princesses is Snow White, well she’s kinda not


  9. I don’t like that he keeps on saying that Anna and else are not in the room but we see Elsa in the room asking do you have magic hands to the candy princess 👸

  10. 14:46 almost positive you used a Japanese painting to represent traditional Chinese dress…. historically not far off but mildly need more work

  11. I checked recently. They actually did cave and add Moana to the list, but Elsa and Anna are still absent. It is worth pointing out tho that at least one of the toys advertised on the site, the Disney Princess Minis, portrays Moana wearing a more traditional dress than her movie one.

  12. I guess all the issues with Moana explan why we still don't have a Disney princess from India. Imagine how upset the world's Indian population would be to see Disney selling cheap, knockoff, fake saris made in China next to the sunglasses kiosk in the mall.

  13. There should be a Disney Prince movie.
    Cuz, I like Disney movies but throughout my childhood I was forced to watch a bunch of disney PRINCESS movies.
    So I think, to benefit little boys of the future, we need to have a Disney PRINCE movie. Of a badass prince who has to save his, I don't know, sister from an evil witch? Or evil half witch who is actually the prince's auntie, and the auntie was actually training the sister.
    Which makes the twin a warlock.
    Then in the second movie he has to learn his own power (he is the chosen one) so he can save his dad from an evil undead wizard who is actually his GRANDAD.
    Oh, the Prince has a talking chimpanzee sidekick, too.
    But hey, that's just a thing Disney should do.
    Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand I'll stop writing now.

  14. "two pale face princesses from the north aren't the best diverse additions to the cast". by trying not to be racist you went a full 180 and basically said "nope u white"

  15. meg should not be a princess anyway. Hercules was actually told wrong for one, he is the son of a general, but he never became a king ever. nor was he in line for a throne.

  16. Although Moana may be considered a "princess" by Disney's standards, she's not really one. As the daughter of a Chief, she herself shall be Chief one day, but up until that day comes, she is just the daughter of a Chief.
    Although this may be the case for Moana, we all know Pocahontas was the daughter of a Chief. Being the daughter of a Native American Chief makes her a princess (for Native Chief's daughters were seen, recognized as a princess)
    – check out the link: Pocahontas:

  17. Matpat:Moana no princess
    Me:*goes to watch final body count
    Matpat:Moana is the last princess to possibly have most kills
    Me:But you said that's wrong matpat at don't care about old theories confirmed

  18. Also color scheme’s for disney princesses are limited. They often have a certain amount of base colors that make them up, or are often quite generic and primary.

  19. Didnt Donald wake up at the end of the beginning video clips and say "im glad to be a citizen of the united states" while kissing the statue of liberty?

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