For my final project, my goal was to explore the way modern fairy tales, in the form of Disney princess films, deal with the idea of class mobility. I discuss how the Disney princesses fall into two categories: they’re either born royal (wealthy and privileged), or end the story royal without putting in too much work. The only exception is Tiana from The Princess and the Frog, who works hard as a waitress to save money to reach her goal of opening a restaurant. This subscribes exactly to the American dream – the idea that working hard enough will lead to prosperity, regardless of race, class, age, sex, or any other extenuating circumstances. However, that dream never comes true for most people, so I wanted to explore what role it plays within the Disney universe and how it is falsely perpetuated by films like The Princess and the Frog.
I decided on an audio podcast as the medium for my project, partially just because I like podcasts, but also because I thought it would be a good way to explain complicated ideas in a relatively concise way. In the piece, I used mostly just my own voice along with a few audio clips from other sources to sum up my argument that this film fails to deal with class or race in a meaningful way by never addressing either topic head on. Despite Disney trying to catch up to the real world by finally including a black princess, by making Tiana the only princess who ever really works and never examining why exactly she has to work so hard, the film actually encourages the harmful idea that poor people (often people of color) may just not be trying hard enough.
Breaux, Richard. “After 75 Years of Magic: Disney Answers Its Critics, Rewrites African American History, and Cashes in on Its Racist past.” Journal of African American Studies, vol. 14, no. 4, Dec. 2010, pp. 398-416.
Gregory, Sarita. “Disney’s Second Line: New Orleans, Racial Masquerade, and the Reproduction of Whiteness in the Princess and the Frog.” Journal of African American Studies, vol. 14, no. 4, Dec. 2010, pp. 432-449.
National: Defining the American Dream | The New York Times. Prod. Shayla Harris and Katharine Q. Seelye. YouTube. 7 May 2009. Web. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C48aGtPIuZo>.
The Princess and the Frog. Dir. Ron Clements and John Musker. Walt Disney Pictures, 2009.