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Reel Royal Diversity? The Glass Ceiling in Disney’s Mulan and Princess and the Frog

Department of Sociology, McDaniel College, Westminster, MD 21157, USA
Hastings College of the Law, University of California, 200 McAllister St, San Francisco, CA 94102, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Katrina Bell McDonald and Gregor Wolbring
Societies 2016, 6(4), 35;
Received: 8 October 2016 / Revised: 14 December 2016 / Accepted: 15 December 2016 / Published: 17 December 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Intersectionality: Disentangling the Complexity of Inequality)
Both in Mulan and Princess and the Frog, Disney eschews a traditional fairytale ending involving palatial opulence by substituting an alternative narrative for women of color. Mulan disguises herself as a male soldier in order to serve in her father’s place. After sharing victory with male companions, she willingly returns home to domesticity and the confines imposed by her gender. Tiana spends two thirds of the movie as a frog, substantially limiting her on-screen time as an African American female. Like Mulan, she is driven to please her father. She fulfills his dream of owning a high-end restaurant, ironically named Tiana’s Palace, the closest she comes to a royal lifestyle. Although protagonists with more realistic lives could potentially enhance viewers’ connection with them and model a work ethic or commitment to home life, the standard and more financially successful Disney narrative immerses viewers in a fantasy world of endless prospects including a life of royalty. These nonwhite heroines instead display a willingness to settle for more modest aspirations in stories replete with stereotypical gender and race-bound tropes. This divergent narrative suggests that protagonists of color are not entitled to a life of leisure and privilege that white Disney princesses enjoy. View Full-Text
Keywords: social inequality; racism; sexism; Disney; princess; masculinity social inequality; racism; sexism; Disney; princess; masculinity
MDPI and ACS Style

Dundes, L.; Streiff, M. Reel Royal Diversity? The Glass Ceiling in Disney’s Mulan and Princess and the Frog. Societies 2016, 6, 35.

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