Showing posts from August, 2017

The Problem With Disney's Live-Action Remakes

Yesterday, I discussed why a Xena remake should be happening. Today, I'm going to tell you why Disney's recent slew of remakes should not be happening. Does it sound hypocritical? There's a big difference between an ongoing series and a feature-length work of art expanded from a two-page fairy tale. Disney animated films are timeless classics that should not be messed around with. Beginning with the fairest of them all, Disney has revolutionized the way that we see fairy tales, giving us a streamlined look, voice, and personality for each princess. They are so good at creating modernized versions of classic stories that stay true to the heart of each tale. Why, then, do they find it necessary to give us watered-down clones of their classic masterpieces?

The answer, like most things with Disney, is money. These remakes are just an extension of the Disney cheapquels that Michael Eisner put out in the '90s. Beginning in 1994 withReturn of Jafar, Eisner soon realized that …

Why Cancelling the Xena Reboot Was a Mistake

In my "Queer Princesses" post, I mentioned that NBC had announced a potential reboot of Xena: Warrior Princess that would explore Xena's relationship with Gabrielle. Last week, that reboot was officially cancelled. There are many reasons this was the wrong decision for the NBC executives to make. A big one is the recent rise of the warrior princess genre. With the recent releases of Wonder WomanDC Super Hero Girls, and Mysticons, there is a clear opening for a darker and more mature warrior princess series that Xena would have filled. Also, in the modern age of reboots, now would have been a perfect time to revive this piece of iconic '90s nostalgia.

The reason for cancelling the reboot was very vague. In fact, NBC President Jennifer Salke is still open to the possibility of one further in the future, claiming "Never say never." Don't forget this is the same network that failed to give The 10th Kingdom a well-deserved sequel and managed to turn the mo…

Magical Girl Princesses

It's the premiere week of Mysticons, so let's talk about magical girls and their impact on princess mythology. The magical girl craze began in Japan as a genre of anime called "mahou shoujo." No one knows exactly how it started, but it is believed that the first magical girl appeared in 1966 as Sally the Witch. Though individual stories vary, all the series in the mahou shoujo genre contain grade school-aged girls who receive sparkly trinkets that allow them to transform into pretty superheroes. They fight bad guys by screaming magical words and releasing different types of spells, usually in a pretty sequence of recycled animation. The concept seems rather silly from an outside perspective, but it definitely sells. Not all magical girls are princesses, but it is a common overlying theme, most likely because the genre was created for the same target audience.

The most princessy magical girl anime would probably have to be Go! Princess Pretty Cure (pictured above), wh…

Review: Mysticons - "Sisters in Arms"

Warrior princess fans, rejoice! There's a new team of action girls out today, and they're called the Mysticons. Never heard of them? That's not too surprising. They had a pretty small promotional campaign that I only found about by chance through a post on an animation blog I follow. Now that we're all on the same page, I have some exciting news. To kick off the series, this magical girl power team is going to have a new episode every night this week on Nickelodeon! Keep reading to find out everything you need to know.

As you can see from the promo art, Mysticons is an animated series about four female warriors with magical abilities. In the first episode, they learn that they were chosen as the fabled warriors when all four of them touch the ancient Dragon Disk at the same time. While they do get a brief transformation sequence that is more akin to Princess Gwenevere and the Jewel Riders than a magical girl anime, the Mysticons' abilities are more action-based tha…

Labyrinth of Jareth Masquerade XX

Have you ever wished you could put on a princess dress and fly away to a magical realm where anything is possible? The Labyrinth Masquerade Ball is the closest thing you can get to that, and it just came back to the Millenium Biltmore Hotel here in Los Angeles for its twentieth year! My husband I had the pleasure of being among its may attendees last night. As a bonus, it even gave me a rare excuse to wear my wedding dress again. I was surprised how many compliments I got on it, considering how many elaborate fantasy and faery costumes there were.

Beginning in 1997, the Labyrinth of Jareth was inspired by the masquerade scene featuring the late David Bowie in Jim Henson's 1986 film, Labyrinth. In order to recreate the dreamlike quality of the film, the event requires all attendees to wear either formal attire and masks or elaborate fantasy costumes. People go all out for this each year, donning tons of glittery, enormous wings, face paint, light-up props, and anything else you cou…

The Legacy of Rapunzel

Picture a maiden with impossibly long hair trapped in a tower. What story comes to mind? Rapunzel has been a memorable icon among princess tales long before Disney got their hands on it in 2010. She is the quintessential fairy tale damsel in distress. That's not to say she was always helpless. In fact, in the Brothers Grimm adaptation, Rapunzel asks the prince to bring her silken skeins that she sews together to create a ladder so she can escape the tower herself, so she was actually more active in solving her own problems than Cinderella and Snow White. Let's get real, though. It's that amazing hair that's held our interest for all those centuries. Who hasn't dreamed of growing their hair insanely long, despite all the upkeep it would inevitably require?

Though Rapunzel became a princess through marriage, she did not start out that way. Her family's social status was unmentioned, but it was likely that they were peasants because her father needed to steal food…

The Legacy of The Frog Prince

We all know the story of a spoiled princess who rewarded a frog for returning her golden ball by then throwing him against the wall in a fit of rage. Or do we? The Brothers Grimm tale known as "The Frog King" has gone through so many iterations over the years that while many are familiar with the story, few are aware of its roots. It is commonly believed that the frog's curse was broken with a kiss from a beautiful princess, but the Grimm version is a great deal darker. The princess was so disgusted by the frog that she threw him across the room, when he transformed into something more appealing to her. The version of the story with the kiss is believed to be a later development inspired by Edgar Taylor's translation, which made the princess begin to care for the frog over the course of the story. The best adaptation of this was the one by Jim Henson in 1971, featuring Kermit the Frog and his nephew Robin.

In the Muppet version of "The Frog Prince," Princes…

The Legacy of Swan Lake

Today's fairy tale breakdown is one that you might not expect. "Swan Lake" was a ballet composed by Tchaikovsky in 1875. The ballet's popularity in recent years inspired several movies, including The Swan PrincessBlack Swan, and one of the first Barbie movies. Perhaps it was Tchaikovsky's haunting score that made the story so irresistible or perhaps it was the classic princess elements, such as the magical transformation, like in "Cinderella" or the tragic betrayal of true love, like in "The Little Mermaid." Whatever it is, the ballet has become a favorite among princess fans for over a century.

Little is known about origins of the story. Two popular theories are the Russian fable, "The White Duck," and the German fairy tale, "The Stolen Veil." These only vaguely resemble the tale of Princess Odette, though. If any bird that turns into a princess inspired "Swan Lake," you can just as easily argue that the anime P…

The Legacy of Beauty and the Beast

It's a tale as old as time. "Beauty and the Beast," the story that teaches us to find the beauty within, is next in this week's series of fairy tale princess breakdowns. The most famous version of this story is the one by Charles Perrault. Countless adaptations have been made, some more loosely inspired than others. Several of them, including this lovely 1984 feature by Don Bluth, never got to see the light of day. Not everyone can learn to love a beast.

The beast marks one of very few flawed princes in fairy tale history. He was not a nameless savior like the prince in Snow White or Cinderella's tales. Instead, he was aggressive, dark, and self-pitying. Likewise, Beauty was not a passive heroine. She willingly gave herself up to the beast to save her father. Some people argue that her romance was a result of Stockholm Syndrome, but in all versions of the story, the beast gives her an opportunity to leave him, and she always returns to save his life in an act tha…

The Legacy of The Little Mermaid

Today I'm going to tell you about my favorite fairy tale, "The Little Mermaid" by Hans Christian Andersen. The history of this princess tale is quite different from Snow White and Cinderella. Instead of being passed down verbally for generations before getting transcribed, "The Little Mermaid" was an original story that Hans wrote about unrequited love based on his own tragic experiences with romance. It was inspired by the story of Undine by Baron Fouqué, about a mythological water nymph who must marry a human to obtain a soul, but will die if the human is unfaithful. Though "The Little Mermaid" had fewer direct adaptations than Snow White or Cinderella, it inspired many films and TV shows about mermaids who either fell in love with humans or had the ability to transform into a human. In Denmark sits the statue of the mermaid herself, permanently caught between two forms and two worlds.

The most famous version of this story is Disney's The Little…

The Legacy of Cinderella

It's time to talk about everyone's favorite makeover story. Cinderella has been done and redone so many times that she's turned into more of a trope than an actual character. Every time I have dressed up as a princess for Halloween that I thought was at least fairly recognizable someone has asked me if I was supposed to be Cinderella. It never fails. I've been asked it as Belle, Ariel, Princess Peach, and more. She is by far the most common character to pop into anyone's head when they think of the word "princess." With Disney's 2015 remake and the the recent Broadway revival, that is unlikely to stop any time soon.

What is it, exactly, that makes Cinderella such a timeless character? The story goes so far back through so many cultures that no one actually knows where or when it began. The most famous version is the one by Charles Perrault, which incorporates the fairy godmother, pumpkin, mice, and glass slippers that have become so iconic of the stor…

The Legacy of Snow White

This week, I will be breaking down individual fairy tales, beginning with the fairest of them all. The story of "Snow White" has a complex history, rooted in both reality and mythology. It has become even more complex over the past decade or so, in which the character has been revived as something entirely different in an attempt to make her less of a passive victim and more of a warrior princess.

It is believed that Snow White was inspired by two real women. The first, Margaret von Waldreck, had a stepmother who sent her away to Brussels because she hated her. The princess was later discovered to have been poisoned after an illicit love affair with a prince that neither kingdom approved of. The second, Maria Sophia Margarethe Catharina von Erthal, who was also disliked by her stepmother, lived in a kingdom that produced "talking mirrors," which were essentially very expensive 18th-century novelty items. It is believed that her stepmother owned one of them. She liv…