Talkin’ Nerdy: Our Problem with Princesses
You know what’s been grinding our collective gears lately?
Really, Mattel? Even when you toss Barbie into the world of Capes, you still have to work the princess angle in there? Geez. Once, just once, I’d like to see Mattel do a Barbie ‘role-playing’ video which doesn’t in any way involve princesses. This is their dumbest idea since The Princess and the Pop Star.
Folks, both titular characters can’t have cake lives! One of them has to be poor! If both lead characters are rich and adored, it doesn’t work! Way to completely miss the point of Mark Twain’s book.
We’re going to let you all in on something regarding Twilight Sparkle on My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. This could be a tad shocking, so you might want to sit down for this. Ready? Here it is.
We liked Twilight Sparkle more before she was made into an alicorn princess! There, we said it.
Why? Because when FiM started, Twilight was cooler. She was smart. She was a voracious reader. She didn’t have many friends. She was anti-social. She was an introvert. Twilight was the first nerd pony, and she was great. Sure, we can understand it if the shows’ writers wanted to reward Twilight for everything that she’s done for Ponyville in the last 3 seasons (in the episode “Winter Wrap-Up” she wowed everyone with her mad organizational skills), and even though she could been made into a scientist or a public official, or possibly even a wizard, but no, because Twilight is a girl, the writers have to go the predictable route and make her a smegging princess! We loved Twilight because she was a girls’ show protagonist who had brains, skills and talent in her own right and for not being yet another frou-frou princess, so what do the show’s producer do to her after 4 seasons??
They make her yet another frou-frou princess. Whoop-de-freakin’-doo.
Look folks, we don’t have anything against princesses. They can be entertaining sometimes, we do enjoy the odd Sofia the First episode every now and then, but come on; there are so many other interesting things you can do with girl characters besides just making them princesses all the frelling time. The Disney studio, for example, seems to be hell-bent on making every female character a princess.
“Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated.”
Which is why special mention should go to Disney/Pixar’s Inside Out for its’ protagonist, Riley Anderson.
Not only is Riley a girl (gasp!), but she’s NOT a princess. (Double gasp!) Not only that, but Riley is fond of playing hockey (!), acting like a goofball (!) and has 2 parents, a father and yes, a mother, who’s not straight-up dead (!!). Are we sure this is a DISNEY movie?? Sure, Pixar could’ve made Riley a boy and she could’ve possesses these same traits, but we’re personally glad they didn’t. Seeing a girl character possess these particular traits is nice change of pace from the norm. Furthermore, 3 of Riley’s main emotions (2 of which are the principle characters of the movie) are also female.
So in a way, Pixar did a “girl power” story in the best way possible: by just showing females as actual characters and not making a big deal out of it. It almost makes up for the trainwreck that was Brave…almost.
It’s for this reason we have to give props to Gretchen Grundler from Disney’s Recess and to the Test Twins from Johnny Test. For once we have some girls who take an interest in STEM, thus proving that girl nerds do indeed exist.
On the subject of girl mascots who aren’t princesses, we should probably give honorable mention to the Skechers mascot characters, who each have other character shticks aside from being princesses:
It’s not like us to do a whole lot of gushing over My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, but we will say this: the glaring Princess goof with Twilight Sparkle aside, the show does deserve some credit for portraying a wide variety female personality types. Yeah, they do have one fashionista character obsessed with clothes and fashion, but they have other types as well.
On the subject of MLP, this question concerns the fellas: we all know that there are Bronies roaming the Earth…
“Ponies, Ponies, Ponies, PONIES!!”
…They’re not hiding. So why can’t a boy bring a MLP backpack to school without everybody going nuts? Going back to Skechers for a second, why are their girl mascots cute, big-eyed girls who like to do various things, but the boy Skechers mascots are all superheroes? Why can’t male characters being into other things besides saving the world or kicking ass? Why can’t boys be into soft and cute? Why can’t boys like pink?
“Dude, pink is awesome! I wear it everyday!”
All too often, when spotting a guy wearing pink or a rainbow shirt or something similar, the common reaction is this:
“Hey, that guy’s wearing pink! He’s not pounding his chest or crushing cans over his head! He must really be secure in his masculinity, since he doesn’t feel like he has to do a lot of macho posturing. He’s making me feel kind of shallow and inadequate. GET HIM!!!”
It’s the common ideology for men and boys to be the jocks, the ass kickers and the noise makers, and that’s perfectly fine if that’s how you roll, but to paraphrase what we said earlier regarding princesses: we don’t want to see macho jocks disappear from the planet entirely (well, not all of them, anyway), but it would be nice see something else once in a while. Possessing a Y chromosome doesn’t automatically make you a viking.
We’ll let y’all in on something: as kids, we were kind of..well, weird. Shocker. We were indoor kids, artists and aspiring comics who spent our younger days not giving a crap about sports or cars or anything else our gender was supposed to care about. For years the only kinds of shows or movies that could hold our interest were comedies and cartoons. It would just be nice to see someone like yourself on the screen once in a while. Again, the ass-kickers of the world have their place too, but they’re not the only types out there. Nothing wrong with superheroes and action stars, but where are the budding artists, the music enthusiasts, the aspiring comedians, the acrobats, the chefs and the scientists? A Dexter or a Jimmy Neutron or a Phineas and Ferb or a Milo Kamalani comes along once in a while, but they’re few and far between.
Well, one of the Lego ELVES is a boy, and he seems kind of cool and not some stereotypical macho meat head. So there’s that.
Speaking of magic users, what’s the deal with Winx Club? They have a school for fairies and a school for witches, but all of the alumni in each are girls. Sure, they have a school for Specialists (as in heroes, not surgeons) who are guys, which again, is kind of cool, but comparing heroes with light swords to freaking magic is like comparing a stick of gum to a 7-layer chocolate fudge cake. Where do the young wizards and warlocks go to school in the Winx universe? Hogwarts?
We’re just saying that a little more diversity in pop-culture would be nice. Here’s a thought: instead of dividing the toy sections of stores into the labels of “boys’ toys” and “girls’ toys”, we could start labeling them “soft toys” and “hard toys”. That way the girls who like laser blasting robots and the boys who like starlight spewing unicorns won’t feel like weirdos. We could make a start to look beyond the stereotypes and just view people as people.
“Dirty tree-huggin’ hippies!”
We like it as an ideal, anyway.