Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Disney Wants Your Sons

In the headlines today: Disney's move to rename its next animated movie, "Rapunzel." The new name? "Tangled."

Disney execs figure the new name will appeal to boys and have added what they describe as a swashbuckling male lead. Young boys, they think, have shied away from recent Disney films, scared off by a plethora of princesses and titles such as, "Princess and the Frog."

According to today's LA Times, princess marketing might be to blame for Disney's poor recent showings at the box office:

Princesses and other female protagonists helped lead the 1980s and '90s revival of the animation unit with "The Little Mermaid," "Beauty and the Beast" and "Mulan." The difference between those releases and "Princess and the Frog" is that those earlier films weren't marketed as princess movies.

Uh, I beg to differ. The difference between those movies and "Princess and the Frog" is that the older movies were good.

Pay attention, Disney: I have four boys, four manly (boy-ly?) boys. These boys spend their days wrestling and swinging sticks. But while they shy away from the pink princess aisle at Wal-Mart, they're more than happy to watch The Little Mermaid or Cindrella. In fact, this boy-heavy family owns both of those titles. So stop worrying about the demographics and start concentrating on the story. Boys -- and girls -- love a good story.


  1. You are so funny! My boys have no idea who Cinderella is, and they did NOT want to see the Princess and the Frog after they saw the trailer at Alvin and the Chipmunks, the Squeakquel. We have Mulan (which they have never put in themselves), but other than that, there is almost no Disney here in VT boyland.

  2. Jennifer, I think that homeschooled boys in general have less concern about what's "appropriate" and are not concerned about being teased. My boys - now teens - read the Americal Girl series, as well as plenty other "girlie" books, just because they were such voracious readers and *nobody harassed them* about it. And yes, plenty of Disney, too!

  3. C'mon. Gender roles are CLEARLY defined, EARLY too.

    Today I was working after-school care and because it was early release, the kids got to vote on what movie to watch. The boys eagerly picked Monsters Inc. as the girls split their votes between 101 Dalmations, and Charlotte's Web. Will boys probably like good movies led by female characters? Yes. Will boys choose what they deem might be girly? No.

    The 2nd grade girls I talked to chose pink and purple as their favorite colors. Boys of the same age chose red and black. They know their gender roles and how to fit in.

    Marketing to youths is either or.

  4. I agree: "The Princess and the Frog" really sucked.

  5. I wanted to see the Princess and the Frog- just for the frog part.

    My oldest boy (16) liked Mulan.

    I remember my middle boy (now 15) almost in tears after Cinderela, when they tricked the cat into jumping out the window.

    My youngest boy (now 13) always seemed to have crushes on the female leads, ever since he was 3. I remember him dressing as Mira Nova (female lead from one of the Buzz Lightyear shows) for trick or treating one year,

  6. Funny, I don't recall "Treasure Planet" or "Atlantis" being big hits for Disney even though they had "boy" themes.

  7. I only have one daughter but as a kindergarten teacher, my hat is off to you for homeschooling! As for the other, I agree with you that the older movies were better.

  8. Crimson Wife -- You bring up an excellent point! See? Good storytelling is still essential.

    Kris and Anonymous (who I think is my brother)-- You helped prove each other's points. Boys are absolutely aware of what they can and cannot like, to still be considered "cool." But without immediate peer pressure, a lot of boys can (and will) enjoy things typically marketed to girls. Some will even sing Little Mermaid songs at musical auditions! ;)

    Kaber -- Crushes on the female leads. Interesting! :)

    VKT -- THANK YOU for your kind words.

  9. I completely agree! Who could argue with Bambi? Snowwhite and the 7 dwarfs? (Now THERE was an evil stepmother!) Today's movies are just rehash of the same stories with different princesses in different dresses.

    Lindsey Petersen

  10. I'm getting around to reading this awfully late, but I do have to agree with you -- the beauty of a movie is in the story, not how it's marketed.

    Interesting, though, is that as they get older, boys will read books with guys as main characters, but girls will read books with either gender as a main character...

  11. My boy loved Princess and the Frog. Could be that it depicted his home town and he could relate to the characters and scenery and music. It's one of our favorite Disney movies. Then again he likes the princesses in his words "They are pretty momma, and when we go to Disney World they give me kisses all over my face. I like lipstick kisses".

  12. We have now officially seen Tangled. And you know what? We loved it. Was it BECAUSE of the title change or the "swashbuckling" male lead? I doubt it. We liked the humor, the strong characters (the mother!), the story and the music.