Friday, November 26, 2010

In Defence of Prince Charming

Recently I have been watching some films I missed, and several of them are prince-and-princess fantasy romances...I always have had such a weakness for those. However, in my recent resurgence of interest in that particular style, I recalled Disney's release Tangled, which tells a quirky new version of the Rapunzel story.

From what I found out, due to the profits of The Princess and the Frog being less than they wanted, and because they think the princess genre is outre, Disney don't plan to do any more princess films indefinitely after Tangled. They even shifted the marketing to concentrate on the male lead, Flynn, rather than the princess, in the hopes of bringing a larger audience than young girls to the cinema.

But really, is that the answer? The Princess and the Frog brought in more than enough profit, but they spent so much because of picky potential audiences (most of which just complained and never intended to see it anyway) and puttering around trying to change it, again and again, until Tiana was comparatively put through hardly any hardship at all. The original concept for the film was quite solid; but then people started complaining because Tiana was in a situation...that was pretty much exactly how Cinderella, Snow White, and countless other princesses before her had been put in. It became a very ugly race issue, especially when people started to complain about her prince not being of her exact same race -- what difference does it make?!

But I digress. Does this mean that we're going to see just computer-animated films? Just 3D animation now, with hit-or-miss premises and all made in the Pixar way? Not that I hate Pixar or anything, but I personally can only take so much CG animation. It's everywhere, it's overused, and it's achieved poorly more than it is achieved well.

Does this mean that one of the few things Disney had left that it did well, that it distinctively held, is going to go by the wayside, simply because they're foolish enough to think that Princes Charming are no longer trendy?

I have never known a little girl who didn't love the idea of princesses and princes. I have known only a handful of adult women -- and men, for that matter -- who don't hold a special place in their hearts for them. I think it's disgusting how some 'experts' on the subject now claim that girls as young as six years old should be dieting and being interested in what adults think is 'hot' or 'cool'.

Because you know what? Most of the people who complain about Prince Charming are the people who don't have any idea what the hell they're talking about anyway.

These stories aren't about waiting around doing nothing and expecting some handsome knight on a white horse to spirit you away from it all, without any actual emotional investment from you. It isn't about some oppressive male power-holder taking you away to dominate you, either. It makes me wonder if the people who complain about these stories ever bothered to read or watch them.

Prince Charming is a reward. He's an ideal. Cinderella, for example, didn't just sit around doing nothing and hoping that she'd be rescued by Prince Charming. She did a lot, she worked hard, and she took her happiness where she could. She appreciated the small things and the everyday delights that her wicked stepfamily overlooked. Anyone who paints a portrait of a girl sitting around diddling herself while she waits for her prince to come has no familiarity with the stories at all.

Prince Charming falls in love with his princess, not because she's just pretty, but because she's beautiful, and that comes from the inside. She has endured. She has worked hard, and she has put up with things that some might not. She has kept her hope and her inner beauty, the inner light that makes her so special, and that is what Prince Charming falls in love with. That is why he doesn't fall for any of the other girls. They don't have that.

The stories are to teach a lesson, and that lesson is that being good and keeping hope alive, even if things aren't the way you might want them all the time, will bring eventual rewards. It's a very hopeful message. Prince Charming is the ideal partner, and he comes along to appreciate you for who you are, because you've ideally been a good person and kept hope alive within yourself.

Fairy tales reward the good and punish the evil. They spread hope to those who try to do what is good and what is right, even at personal cost or suffering. Prince Charming is a light, perhaps distant, in the darkness. But his distant light is something that is drawing closer, and you can take comfort in that. One day, your prince will arrive. It may not be today, but it will be someday. He may not ride a white horse, he may not have perfectly coiffed hair, and he may not be able to carry a tune, but he will be your prince. And that will be the most wonderful thing in the world.

I think what most of the people who criticise Prince Charming misunderstand is that very fact. They themselves are often the type who too literally interpret the stories, instead of listening with the ears of a child and then digesting as an adult. No, it's unlikely some actual handsome young fellow of royal blood will come and rescue you at some unexpected point and then spirit you instantly away for a perfect marriage full of love and no real obligation to consummate. But it's very likely that, sooner or later, patience, diligence, and hope will bring their own reward in the form of one who loves you for who you are, and what you do.

Let's believe in Prince Charming. He always believes in each and every one of us.