Here is the most burning of all questions before the release of Star Wars The Force Awakens. It’s the question that keeps millions awake at night in existential anguish and soul-searching agony. And the question is this: Is Princess Leia now a Disney Princess?
Disney Princesses have a long history. Going back to Snow White and further back, there are a few characteristics that identify a genuine bona fide Disney Princess: thin, good, pretty, and totally dependent on men to rescue them when their perky ineptitude gets them into trouble.
Things that one can’t really accuse Princess Leia of, is it? I mean, the base is there. The foundation of dependency and inaction, but still. And’s she’s perky and feisty. Still, it doesn’t feel right somehow.
For one thing, there’s no ‘I want song’ for her. If she is to rise to the panteon of Disney princesses, that will have to be fixed. And no, retconning Elsa’s song ‘Let it go’ to a snow covered mountain on the planet Hoth won’t do.
The current pantheon of Disney princesses include, and royal status is entirely optional: Snow White, Aurora, Cinderella, Jasmine, Ariel, Belle, Pocahontas, Mulan, Tiana, Merida, Rapunzel, Anna, and Elsa.
Usually, a Disney princess needs to come from Walt Disney studios, and feature in their own animated film as the main character. Princess Leia, who is an actual royal person, wasn’t the main character in the original trilogy, and she appeared on screen long before the universe was owned by Disney. But mere technicalities, right? Times move on, and this is the here and now.
After all, Leia is a damsel in distress who is ultimately rescued not by one but by two handsome strangers. One who is a rogue, and one who turns out to be her brother. The other one, the dastardly rogue pursues her, and her attitude to the whole thing is basically a character arc that goes from ‘Ew I don’t like you…’ to ‘Now I do like you, you rogue’.
While Leia is capable in a fight, she spends most of the first trilogy as someone to be saved from harm by the combined wits and machinations of the brother and the dastardly rogue. She’s not exactly a leader who takes an active role in winning the conflict, and she spends part of her life with her heroes tied to a leash, dressed in a leotard, and dancing in Jabba The Hut’s lap.
That’s usually not a feature of a Disney movie, but hey, even they must move with the times, right? If Disney, as a company, can go from being part of the orbit of the Moral Majority when Walt Disney was alive, pushing ‘wholesome family fun’ that has no icky elements like same sex marriage and female emancipation, to slapping down the reactionary republican gay haters, and be the focus of boycotts of this group of homophobes, then a Disney Princess can arise from the lowly status as a giant criminal slug’s sex slave.
Also, it makes much more sense to expand the number of action figures that can be sold to kids and their stressed parents so that collections are never complete. That last bit of cheap plastic made by overexploited and underpaid workers in China and India can adorn the crowning spot in a neverending plan for merchandise completionism.
Just think of the permutations and possibilities that arise from the little ones playing with the lapdancing sex slave of an overgrown criminal invertebrae, together with the grey moral hazard of a drug pushing fairy godmother and her apples of fun and fatality.
It’s the foundation for a future fusion of Breaking Bad and The Children of Bahnhof Zoo, and admit it – you want that on your television screen. That’s why it’s entirely fine to accept Princess Leia into the panoply of star fixtures of the Disney Princess Order.
It means the hearts and minds of tomorrows cultural creators will be juggling an Elsa that loudly comes out as a lesbian on screen in that song, a former rehbilitated sex slave gone good, and a Snow White who once suffered an overdose by a substance made by her stepmother.
It will be Glorious, I tell you, and that’s why you should accept the future, and answer a definite yes to the question about whether Leia is now a Disney Princess. You want her to be a Disney Princess. You need her to be a Disney Princess.
Your future television habits depend on it because out there, in the headlights of the hype train for this new batch of Star Wars films, there’s this kid who will grow up to work for HBO and Netflix, and that kid will today go home and play ‘imaginative’ games with Princess Leia, Ariel, Elsa, and The Beast.
Mark and I have reserved tickets, as you can imagine, and strangely enough this post isn’t entirely serious. Can’t wait.
Since I worked my last day for the year last Friday, I have done absolutely nothing. I crawled into my anti-social shell and spent a few days recuperating with my nose in a book on the sofa.
I’ll have to come out of that shell now, because the social calendar is slowly ticking into gear. My mother is coming to England next weekend, and we have to arrange for a big thing of some kind involving Mark’s parents, auntie, and everyone. Dad wants me to come to Sweden again, but I told him I wouldn’t come this year.