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Fairy tale interrupted

Feminism, Masculinity, Wonder Cinema

Allison Craven

Feminism, masculinity and fairy tale figure within an extended analysis of Disney's Beauty and the Beast (1991), in light of the live-action remake, Beauty and the Beast (2017). The history of the fairy tale Beauty and the Beast is compared with Disney's adaptation which centralises the figure of the Beast rather than the heroine, Belle. A flagship during a key period of Disney’s corporate expansion in the early 1990s, in the first section of the book, the production is situated with respect to gender histories in the corresponding period: the rise of post-feminism, and its implicit disavowal of feminism, the mythopoetic men’s movement and the crisis of masculinity. The following section canvasses views of masculinity in second wave feminism and the role of myth and fairy in key works of feminism. A critical discussion ensues of twenty-first century wonder cinema in which the influence of feminist ideas is seen to circulate within the pastiche treatments of fairy tales and enchantment.

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5. The Croaking: Enchanted Heroines and Post-feminism


The relationship between feminism and post-feminism is not quite that of Andalasia to reality in Enchanted. But Giselle, the heroine, represents one of the re-flowerings of post-feminism, and the resurrection of the white princess in the Disney oeuvre in the twenty-first century (see Chapter 4). This chapter is not any depth analysis of Giselle or Enchanted, as that work has been well done by others (Bacchilega 2013; Cecire 2012; Pershing and Gablehouse 2010). They roundly critique, as Pershing and Gablehouse term it, the ‘faux’ feminist production (151) – code for anti-feminist – and how what begins as a ‘good-natured spoof of […] outdated gender relations’ in earlier Disney films discards ‘metacommentary’ for cynical consumerism and reinforcement of Disney themes and products (143). Enchanted and Giselle are points of departure in this chapter because their appearance in 2007, following 10 years of development (according to Pershing and Gablehouse, 145), was roughly at a point in time where a noticeable turn seems to have occurred in some feminist critiques of post-feminist popular culture. Several pertinent works are discussed in this chapter. Giselle is not among the heroines identified in those works for potential to negotiate the passages from second to third-wave feminism. To the contrary, if anything, she represents a rival view of the fading pulse of feminism, not a view held by said feminist critics of popular culture. Giselle, perhaps, was in the wrong fairy-tale spoof, a false fairy tale of corporate Disney itself, composed from a remix of its various titles,...

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