New Disney princess outrage: Is 'Frozen' only for 'pretty' girls? (+video)
Disney has made some progress over the years on the matter of making women actual characters instead of merely human topiary (see, "Sleeping Beauty"). But the idea of a plus-size princess – or at least one without a button nose who looks like she has adequate space for all her organs – has so far seemed a bridge too far.
There are reasons for that, of course. Disney's animated films are not indie flicks filmed for a few hundred thousand dollars and then edited on some 20-something's sofa between episodes of "Breaking Bad." Animation of the highest order (which Disney aspires to) takes years of painstaking work and budgets can run into the hundreds of millions. To cast an "untraditional" princess would seem to be an enormous financial risk.
Would people go to see a princess who wasn't "pretty"? "Shrek" made a joke of this and succeeded. But what if there was no joke? What if the princess simply was ordinary? It would be a risk, if only because it has never been done. Just look at society – our local TV news anchors and gossip-page celebrities. Where are the un-"pretty" examples there? Disney is just reflecting society back at itself.
Which brings us to the Internet's tiny "Frozen" rebellion. Is the world ready for an un-"pretty" Disney princess?
Pixar, in many ways, has already led the way, showing that the untraditional – done honestly – can appeal to mass audiences. A rat that can cook? A robot in love? A grumpy widower who sells balloons? All became blockbusters.
Of course, Disney does not yet have that risk-taking so deeply in its DNA. It is still attempting to throttle the world with Marvel and Star Wars retreads. Yet there are hints. At the time, "Tangled" was an enormous risk. "Shrek" had supposedly killed the fairy tale genre, yet "Tangled" made $600 million worldwide. And "Wreck-It Ralph" – as well as "Paperman," the groundbreaking short film before it – showed that some of Pixar's innovation has rubbed off on Disney.