These Fan-Made Music Videos Bring Back the Magic of Disney Princesses!

If you've found the quality of Disney entertainment a bit lackluster lately, you aren't alone. There was barely any hype surrounding the awesome new princess movie they just launched on Disney+, especially compared to some of their previous movie openings. Of course, it isn't entirely their fault that they can't have big movie premieres during a time of lockdowns and safety measures, but combined with theme park closures, it leaves us feeling a little empty inside. Have no fear because fans will always be here to bring back the pixie dust and excitement of the old days even when the studios are too busy counting their losses to notice. Last week brought two groups of powerhouse princess cosplayers singing about the good old days and making some poignant observations on how Disney Princesses have evolved over the last few decades. Even though they were produced by different, though equally talented, independent studios, the videos perfectly illustrate the evolution of the classic '50s housewife-style princess into the modern-day warrior princess.

"Princess Intervention!" is the third episode of the Princess Academy webseries by PattyCake Productions. This series is a little different from their Villains Lair series in that the episodes are all standalone sketches that have little to no relation to each other. What's really great about the series is that each episode contains an original song, with this one being no exception. The entire video is a throwback to the cleaning obsession shared by many of the golden age princesses. Snow White, Cinderella, Giselle, and Rapunzel scold Merida for not cleaning her room. I love how careful they were in selecting which princesses to give Merida the intervention, since all four of these lovely ladies sang a song about cleaning at some point in her movie. The video contains a beautiful reference to the soap bubbles that reflected Cinderella as she cleaned the floor in "Sing Sweet Nightingale" as well as Snow White's "Whistle While You Work" with cameos from the seven dwarfs. Merida is my least favorite of the Disney Princesses, so I had no qualms with seeing her getting put in her place.

Another princess fan video that came out last week was a tribute to Raya and the Last Dragon from Pixel Playhouse, a group that makes fan tributes that are similar to PattyCake Productions. This video takes a look at the modern princesses who lack love interests and fight their own demons such as Elsa, Violet, Mulan, and, of course, Merida. The actresses in it are insanely talented with gorgeous singing voices, especially the girl who plays Raya. She makes some clever observations about how the world is divided in her movie just like the world we live in now when Elsa points out that times of darkness are when we need princess stories the most. It was interesting to see Violet included in a princess video since she was supposed to be part of Disney's "Princess Academy" short even though she is not part of the official Disney Princess lineup. This song in this video has a poignant tagline about how "heroines aren't born; they're made," which differentiates the Disney Princess characters, who are born or marry into their roles, from the Disney heroines, who marked their place in Disney history through their actions. These days, the line between a princess and heroine is virtually nonexistent.

Collectively, these two music videos represent the distinct shift in princess culture between the classic and modern eras of Disney animation. The character that unites both fan videos is Merida from Brave, which came out in 2012. I think that was the year that everything changde for Disney and princess culture in general. After that, we stopped seeing clear-cut villains in animated movies, and princesses stopped needing love interests for their films to be successful. Movies after 2012 placed more focus on being strong and independent than on the fantasy of finding love and living in a clean castle, something that was idealized and deconstructed most recently in WandaVision on Disney+. I enjoyed how these videos celebrate both forms of being a princess from the feminine archetypes to more gender-neutral ones, though I have to admit that seeing a version of Raya sing made me really wish that Raya and the Last Dragon had been a musical.

You can always count on talented fans to build hype and excitement for popular fandoms. Both PattyCake Productions and Pixel Playhouse are extraordinarily talented groups that share their love of the Disney princesses in the most creative ways possible. It was a magical experience to see how these very different groups of princesses were brought to life with screen-accurate costumes, faces, and voices. These music videos brought unexpected joy to an otherwise uneventful weekend, and I hope that you will love and support their work just as much as I do.


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