I’m sticking to animated film princesses as I move onto Giselle, Disney’s only princess that has been live-action and animated in the same film. The reason she’s not included in the line up is a rather simple one: they’d have to pay Amy Adams royalties for using her likeness. So far so fair. But as we delve into a brief discussion about Giselle, we’ll also open up the Nancy question – and what does it really mean to be a Disney Princess?
Giselle is your stereotypical Disney princess, blending in qualities from the beloved classic Disney Princesses as well as the earlier Renaissance ones. She has perfect hair, can sing, has an animal as a best friend. She’s pretty, optimistic, handy with a needle and good natured even in the toughest of times. In fact, it’s testament to both the script writers and Amy Adams that she really goes through any kind of character progression in the film at all: she’s pretty much perfect. But here’s an interesting bit to point out – she’s never a princess. Sure, she’s betrothed to Edward in the film and were it not for his conniving mother she would have been his princess but the only woman who officially ends up a princess at the end of the film is Nancy, who actually marries the prince. B
Both girls get the happy ending and have gone through self discovery to get there. The film might not be Nancy’s gig but her and Giselle parallel but ending up with the ultimate ideals that Disney sells: Giselle with the happy family and career, Nancy as the loved and adored Princess. So what exactly makes a Disney princess if it’s not for the literal ‘Princess’ title. Is it an inherited position of prestige or a set of certain qualities and values. Indeed, Mulan’s inclusion (there’s lots to be said about her title in the Chinese hierarchy if she had married Shang, but for those unacquainted with Chinese history the point would seem moot) seems to suggest that it’s distinction of character and being the main female (if not character altogether) in their film would make them worthy of the title.
It seems clear either way that even Disney doesn’t seem to have figured it out, and the exclusion of actual princess or queens such as Megara, Jane or Kida, as well as leading women of authority such as Esmeralda makes it no less clear. But heigh-ho, that’s an issue for Disney to deal with and I for one am very interested as to wether or not they’ll add Leia to the line up now that she’s one of their properties. The same goes for Elena of Avalor, who only starts on a Disney Junior show and yet is the only Latina princess representative they have. If the Giselle/Nancy debacle tells us anything, it’s that Disney needs to get their act together. In the midst of making their franchise popular and sellable, they’re also muddying the waters.