Chasing Contentment by Erik Reymond, Free for CAPC Members
In Chasing Contentment, Erik Reymond identifies the lie that satisfaction and contentment come through consumption.
Every Thursday in LOL Interwebz, Luke T. Harrington explores the quirks and foibles of Internet culture from a Gospel perspective.
So, this is the sort of thing happening on Twitter right now:
What a cute dainty little story about colonization & white supremacy Oh Disney, you outdo your own racism every time! #PrincessOfNorthSudan
— Hana Shafi (@HanaShafi) May 14, 2015
When your American daughter asks you if she'll ever be a "real princess" just tell her no. Don't go staking claims. #PrincessOfNorthSudan
— Margaret Farenger (@MFarenger) May 14, 2015
Usually when Twitter erupts into this sort of furor, it’s about something important, like a dress of indeterminate color scheme or an escaped pair of llamas, but this time it was about a Disney movie.Disney’s entire business model hinges on convincing little girls that they deserve to be princesses.
If you missed the headlines: about a year ago, a little girl in Virginia asked her daddy, “Daddy, can I be a princess for real?” and instead of telling her “You’ll always be a princess to me, sweetheart,” or “Sure, if you don’t mind being betrothed from birth to your ugly first cousin,” or “Shut up and get daddy a beer,” like a normal parent would, he instead flew to Africa and planted a made-up flag in a disputed territory between Egypt and Sudan, because “disputed” means the same thing as “free to any moron with a flag,” right?
When the story last made headlines, it didn’t seem all that surprising. After all, white people have felt entitled to Africa for a couple of centuries now, so this sort of thing was hardly even news. But then I heard that Disney had purchased the movie rights, and I learned for the first time that there was a fine line between “Duh, obviously” and “What the ever-loving crap?”
On the one hand, I realize that Disney’s entire business model hinges on convincing little girls that they deserve to be princesses, but why in the world would they want to shine a light on the ugliest fruits of their labor? This is like if Jack-in-the-Box put E. coli-themed toys in their kids’ meals, or if Martin Luther put on a wacky skit about the Holocaust.
I’ve been thinking about it, though, and I’ve come up with a theory, and fortunately said theory involves the Internet, seeing as this is supposedly column about the Internet and all. I’m fairly certain that Disney has a Google Alert set up for “princess,” and anytime something new comes up they nail down the movie rights as fast as they can. It doesn’t have to make sense, it doesn’t have to be not-embarrassingly-neocolonial, and it doesn’t even have to be especially marketable; you just put the word “Princess” in the title, and the marketing takes care of itself!
So, in order to test out how it would work, I did a Google News search for “princess” to see what would come up:
Possible movie idea: Shocking the world, a recently-born princess continues to exist. Throw in some songs and talking animals, and you’ve probably got a 90-minute movie.
Possible marketing difficulty: Getting the two-week-old princess to stand in the standard Disney Princess lineup.
Recommended movie title: The Princess Who Existed
Possible movie idea: The Boston Globe review linked to above calls this picture book “a suspenseful story with a beginning, middle, and an end,” but I imagine we’ll have to jettison all three of those to make room for some Alan Menken musical numbers.
Possible marketing difficulty: I don’t like that word “big.” Can we change the title to The Nice Princess or something?
Recommended movie title: The Nice Princess Who Sang Pretty and Was Definitely Not Big
Possible movie idea: I dunno. Maybe, like, a…big…princess. Or…something.
Possible marketing difficulty: Not sure, but at least this way we don’t have to pay for the rights to The Big Princess.
Recommended movie title: The Big Princess Who Is Legally Distinct From the One Created by Taro Miura
Possible movie idea: A wacky comedy in which a princess and her brother struggle to fit in at boot camp.
Possible marketing difficulty: The decision on whether to be obnoxiously sexist or obnoxiously P.C. There’s not a lot of middle ground here.
Recommended movie title: The Princess Who Couldn’t Even Lace Her Boots and/or The Princess Who Kicked Everyone’s Butt
Possible movie idea: A wacky, musical romp through the world of epidemiology! Kids will learn about how sharing close quarters with a thousand other yuppies for weeks at a time might not be the best idea! Also, the ship will probably sing, or something.
Possible marketing difficulty: Bringing a cruise liner up to a Eurocentric standard of beauty.
Recommended movie title: The Princess Who Was a Ship, but, Y’know, a Hot Ship. Also, Something About Somebody Getting Sick or Something.
Possible movie idea: A princess’s life story is turned into kitsch. Wait, hasn’t Disney done this one before?
Possible marketing difficulty: This one’s a bit too meta for the kiddies.
Recommended movie title: The Princess Who Didn’t Want You to Buy Her Dolls, but Seriously, Do It Anyway
Possible movie idea: A heartwarming tale that will teach all girls that as long as they’re pretty, boys will come flocking to them.
Possible marketing difficulty: None that I can think of.
Recommended movie title: The Princess Whose Milkshake Brought All the Boys to the Yard
Possible movie idea: Who are we kidding? This one writes itself.
Possible marketing difficulty: Nothing that comes to mind. Maybe finding a rhyme for “throne-room sex” for the climactic musical number.
Recommended movie title: 3 Princess 3 Diaries: Thron3 Room S3x
Image via Loren Javier at Flickr.
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