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Princess Cultures

Mediating Girls’ Imaginations and Identities

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Edited By Miriam Forman-Brunell and Rebecca C. Hains

Princesses today are significant figures in girls’ culture in the United States and around the world. Although the reign of girls’ princess culture has generated intense debate, this anthology is the first to bring together international and interdisciplinary perspectives on the multitude of princess cultures, continuously redrawn and recast by grownups and girls from the Ancien Régime to the New Millennium. Essays critically examine the gendered, racialized, classed, and ethnic meanings of royal figures and fairytale and pop culture princesses inscribed in folk tales, movies, cartoons, video games, dolls, and imitated in play and performance. Focusing on the representation and reception of the princess, this collection sheds new light on the position of princess cultures mediating the lives, imaginations, and identities of girls from toddlers to teenagers – and beyond.
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Chapter Three: Ghetto Princes, Pretty Boys, and Handsome Slackers: Masculinity, Race and the Disney Princes

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 CHAPTER THREE

Ghetto Princes, Pretty Boys, and Handsome Slackers: Masculinity, Race and the Disney Princes

GUILLERMO AVILA-SAAVEDRA

According to a content analysis of the official Disney Princess films, Aladdin from Aladdin (1992) and Naveen from The Princess and the Frog (2009) are the only male protagonists that exhibit more feminine than masculine characteristics. Li Shang from Mulan (1998), although more masculine than feminine overall, exhibits fewer masculine characteristics than all the other Disney princes except for the ones in Snow White (1937) and Cinderella (1950) who have remarkably little screen time (England, Descartes and Collier-Meek 2011). What Aladdin, Naveen and Li Shang share is the distinction of being the only non-White princes or romantic interests in Disney Princess films. Based on that evidence, this chapter aims to explore the symbolic interconnections of race and gender and contributes to the conversation through qualitative discourse analysis of the construction of masculinities in the three films. The analysis exposes the performance of gender roles by the male protagonists in the context of their race and class as established by the narrative and their interactions with the female protagonists. A discursive analysis of these popular movies reveals the mediated construction of multiple forms of masculinities informed by race and class as well by changing notions of masculinity and femininity.

The representation of gender roles, class and race in children’s media is an important area of study. Because of their cultural ubiquity, Disney films constitute a key...

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