Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Kill, Refurb, Marry: Character of Characters

This is going to be a little lighthearted post!  There’s a little game circling the Disney blogging community called “Kill, Refurb, Marry,” that’s based on another game I’m sure you’ve played at some point.  I’m so excited to finally contribute to the game with something I’m familiar with, as the usual categories are based off of Walt Disney World things (a place I’ve sadly still yet to visit).   There are many different directions I could take this post, so I’ll preface this by specifying my motivation.  An earlier post of mine discussed a positive way Disney showcased the Princesses to little girls; commercials showing clips from films alongside defining characteristics such as kindness and determination.  I picked my KRM based on the characters I believe are the best examples to young girls.  I’ve discussed in the past how I’m against the flat, glittery, pixie-dusted Disney Princesses that are marketed as merchandise, but can get behind what they stand for and the qualities they teach.  So without further ado, my contribution to the KRM blog hop: Princesses addition!


While talking about killing any person, real or fictional, is not something I like to do, if I had to get rid of one of the Disney Princesses it would have to be Belle, from Beauty and the Beast.  I loved this film as a child, but viewing it as an adult and with a discerning eye I’ve come to critique many things about this Disney Renaissance film.  Belle is quite likable on the surface, due to her lovely design and Paige O’Hara’s great voice acting.  However, the more I think about it the more her personality and character show flaws and blemishes.  Her opening lines complain about the town she lives in and the people that fill it.  It’s true they don’t seem to take an interest in her love of books, but she also doesn’t seem to take an interest in their lives.  It’s a clash of worlds – real and fantasy – and Belle doesn’t seem keen on pursuing it further.  She knows the town thinks her odd but doesn’t stop to think how she could improve her relationships with them.   I’d like to think a future royal would have more of an inclination to show kindness and interest in others rather than singing about a “little town full of little people.”

I’m also not keen on Belle’s various other mishaps throughout the film.  She doesn’t respect the Beast’s request to not visit the west wing, she distracts her hosts while she sneaks away, and even more than that she puts the enchanted rose in danger.  She is defiant, but the way the story is told it doesn’t come off as a good trait.  In that moment in the story the audience is uneasy and not fond of Belle’s choices.  The next time we cheer against our heroine is after the lovely “Beauty and the Beast” scene where we know Belle and Beast have fallen in love.  Beast takes a huge leap of faith and shares his enchanted mirror with her so she can see her father.  They part ways with no mention of reuniting.  Belle puts family first but the obvious question is why can’t she come back to the Beast after helping her father?  The Beast is grief stricken and has no will to live afterward.  Although Belle redeems herself afterward by returning she just does not shine very bright in this film.  Despite Gaston’s assertion, the fact that Belle is the most beautiful girl in town does not make her the best.


As for a Princess to “refurbish,” I would pick to “plus” Cinderella.  There is not much wrong with her, per se, but there are a few elements I would love to see spruced up for modern audiences.  She has great characteristics; she is gracious toward her abusive stepfamily, optimistic for the future and something better to come, and resilient to the rough life she’s leading.  She finds the tiny bits of fun in the mundane, by singing while carrying out chores and making friends with the creatures of the house.   In fact, it’s almost unrealistic.  She doesn’t have a minor flaw to make her relatable and human.  Of course we feel for her and her situation but we also know if we were in her shoes (ha) we would have complained at least once.  Finally Cinderella has an emotional breakdown when she can’t attend the ball.  But if we look at some of the more recent Princesses, they are more likely to slip up, fight back, or run away… all more realistic responses to less-than-favorable situations.  And there's something to be learned from not putting up with a terrible home life.   Standing up for yourself and what's right is an honorable thing to do. 

In addition, the scenes with Cindy and her Prince falling in love would benefit from more dialogue.  I’d love to hear her win his heart over with some smart lines rather than only her beauty.  Girls should see the benefits of getting to know someone through conversation, and this is also something the more recent movies accomplish well.  Think of Flynn and Rapunzel or Aladdin and Jasmine… some of their light-hearted and more serious exchanges showed them growing as a couple.  In the interest of time I can see why the film kept it simple but this is another way I’d love to plus Cinderella up!


Choosing who to marry was obviously the easiest choice of the three.  Tiana wins this contest of character by a mile.  Tiana’s got it all: ambition and determination, optimism as well as realism, kindness and good-natured sass.   Her main flaw, a “workaholic” inability to relax and make fun time for herself, is her lesson learned by the end of the film with help from Naveen.  I also love how this film did not shy away from the racial issues of the time and highlighted yet another hardship the heroine had to overcome.  Her relationship with her mother and endearing friendship with Lottie show her relational strengths, although she unfortunately does not make time for her other friends.  The message to work hard for what you want resonates well with me and I love that her Prince Naveen actually brings out the best in her.  Their exchanges are fun and snarky and don’t get too bitter, and Tiana learns the value of a healthy balance of ambition and flexibility.  She embodies the character that Disney Princesses should advocate for their audience.

I had fun picking apart the Princesses, and am excited to participate in the Blog Hop to read others’ take on KRM!  Feel free to share your choices in the comments, and go here to view all the blogs participating.  

For more Disney Princess posts visit these links!

The Little Adolescent
"I am a Princess" Success
Princess Merchandise Culture
Of Pirates and Princesses… And Pirate Princesses


  1. Oh no, you killed my wife! I can see your points but I think a flawed character is more interesting than a perfect one. I think Belle has a lot of kindness but she's been picked on her whole life so it's not surprising that she's not going out of her way to be nice to those people. At least, that's how I see it.

    Totally agree on Tiana though. I love her!

  2. I totally love the idea of taking some time to show the princesses falling in love … Cinderella is great, but it seems to make no sense. One waltz and its love? I just don't think so.

  3. @Becky You make some good points about Belle. To me she just doesn't shine as bright as the others and so many things in the film bug me, haha!

    @Melissa Haha if only it were that easy... ;)