BY FIONA MACKIE
KEIRA Knightley has called out Disney for teaching young girls to wait for a Prince to come to their rescue.
Banning her daughter from watching Cinderella and The Little Mermaid, Knightley said recently in an interview with Ellen DeGeneres: “[Cinderella] waits around for a rich guy to rescue her. Don’t! Rescue yourself. Obviously!”
She added that she really enjoys the film The Little Mermaid, however the message of the story is to give up your voice for a man which she disagrees with: “I mean the songs are great, but do not give up your voice for a man.”
The original Disney films all have a similar story, in that the damsel finds herself in trouble and needs to be rescued, often by a handsome Prince whom she falls for and they live happily ever after.
However, is this the right message that should be presented to girls at a young age?
Susie Patterson, from Ayrshire, said: “I haven’t read any of her comments, but in principal she’s probably right. In fact, I don’t know that there isn’t a certain amount of naturalness in little girls wanting to be dressed in fluffy clothes and I don’t know which comes first: nature or nurture? Probably a bit of both. I think to be hard lined on anything involving little children is a bit severe and I would probably, maybe quietly, discourage it in my own child, but I certainly wouldn’t be making it an absolute no you can’t see this.”
Blythe Aitken, an agriculture student from Castledouglas, and originally from Zimbabwe, took a different viewpoint: “No [I don’t agree] because it’s Disney and they’re children and they should be able to make their own decisions, whether that be about a Prince or a Princess.
“I think if you want to put it in different terms, the man is just an object that could be waiting for your Princess. That’s just what people are taking, and they overthink everything nowadays.”
The original films were made during a time when young girls were learning to be seamstresses and stay – at – home mothers. Now, in the 21st century, the Princesses are standing up for themselves.
Scott Arthur, a recent graduate from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London said: “These movies were a product of their time and should be viewed as such. Not everything has to be a gender equality issue. If anything, [Keira Knightley] should be showing them to her daughter because it shows female protagonists in a time where they were extremely rare.”
Kristen Bell, the voice of Frozen’s Elsa, agreed with Knightley about showing her daughters certain Disney films. Talking about Snow White in an interview with Parenting Magazine, Bell said she turned to her daughters and asked: “Don’t you think it’s weird that Snow White didn’t ask the old witch why she needed to eat the apple? Or where she got the apple?”
It seems as though parents are only wanting to protect their child from making bad decisions, which could be the lesson that Disney is trying to teach.
Film Critic Scott Wilson from Common Space weighs in: “It might sound controversial at first, but given the trailer for Ralph Breaks the Internet, it seems Disney themselves know their past treatment of female characters has not been great. In the post MeToo era it is important people critically analyse the media they consume to look for perpetuating and harmful social norms. If Keira Knightley thinks Disney’s portrayal of women has been submissive, then she is being a responsible parent by either curating her daughter’s viewing or by talking it through with her. All the power to her.”
Now the original damsels in distress are standing on their own two feet in the upcoming release of Wreck – it – Ralph 2: Ralph Breaks the Internet, in which all of the Disney Princesses come together in one scene and talk to the main character Vanellope von Schweetz about people assuming they were just waiting for a man to show up. This appears to be the turning point in the Disney universe that change is being made.
Listen to the Vox pops here: Vox Pops