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The Discourse On Disney Princess Culture

2292 words - 9 pages

Disney is one of the biggest empires in the world. It is a brand that everyone knows about whether they invest in it or not. According to the Forbes Most Valuable Brands list, Disney ranks number seventeen in the world—behind popular brands like Apple and Microsoft and above Wal-Mart. The Disney Empire is a business, a brand that can be found almost everywhere, even in the Dollar Store. The brand’s accessibility is what makes it easy for children to become consumers. The consumerism of princess culture is what I will focus on in this essay, discussing the impact Disney’s Princesses have on young girls and their identity, and how popular culture discourse is beginning to fight back against the empire.
Children become consumers of the Disney brand at a young age, even without parental encouragement. Peggy Orenstein’s New York Times article, “What’s Wrong with Cinderella,” describes the experience of having a daughter in a princess culture/Disney world. Orenstein is not shy about proclaiming her opposition to the Princess brand and what it teaches girls. Orenstein also shows her helplessness in shielding her own daughter from the brand. During a trip to the store, Orenstein’s daughter “point[s] out Disney Princess Band-Aids, Disney Princess paper cups…lip balm…pens…crayons [and] notebooks—all cleverly displayed at the eye level of a 3-year-old trapped in a shopping cart.” Disney strategically places merchandise to capture children as consumers. Children buy into the merchandise and also the “fun of the films themselves and the ‘fairytale’ lives of the characters in them…[and they] come very close to, at least materially, recreating those ‘lives’ in their own living rooms” by owning these products (Lacroix 217). The material aspect of the brand is one way that children invest in Disney and then the princess culture. Like Orenstein’s article suggests, girls are faced with the princess culture everywhere they turn. They see Disney Princess products in the grocery store where there are princess balloons and princess plates and napkins. Princesses are in the local Wal-Mart plastered on pajamas and lunchboxes. The Disney Princess line is all around them and so they easily subscribe to the culture and try to emulate these female characters through costumes and play.
To consider children as consumers of Disney is not a new idea. Princess culture “includes a vast array of material objects and media representations, but also marketing rhetoric and weighty expert studies of children as consumers” (Orr 9). If a company gains the loyalty of a child then they have a customer for life. Marketing campaigns “that accompany each new animated feature” for Disney have admitted to “the targeting of children as consumers” (Lacroix 226). Not only do children consume Disney merchandise, like the toys marketed through McDonald’s Happy Meals, but they are also “taught to consume ideas” (226). Henry Giroux calls the films “teaching machines” and “producers of culture”...

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