Cuphead: A New Canadian Classic

Image result for cuphead

Chad and Jared Muldenhauer, two brothers from Oakville, Ontario, Canada (which is basically next door to the city I live) had a dream: make their own video game. In 2013, they set out to make their dream a reality by working on a new and original video game  that had the aesthetic and charm of a classic 1930’s cartoon. After a few delays to perfect the project, Cuphead was released in 2017 to rave reviews.

Like a lot of people, I was drawn to it by the design and style. It was so refreshing to see traditional hand drawn animation (and beautiful, well done animation for that matter) on a video game format, and the characters looked like a lot of fun. Finally, this year, for my birthday, I got it as a present. And after over a month, I have completed it! (On Normal of course, I’ll get to the expert mode soon.)

What are my thoughts?

Well, I will say that those delays paid off because there’s so much DETAIL in this game. Like the animation of course is a real gem, but the music is excellent and there’s all sorts of hidden achievements and surprises. You can tell Studio MDHR went all out on this game. There’s definitely enough things to keep you interested in playing.

While the gameplay is hard, it also helps you learn how to be a better player. You have to form strategies on how to beat the enemy and advance. Try this charm here, try this super there. The bosses are actually a lot of fun, and I would always throw up my arms and shout “YES!” whenever I beat them. And for the most part I didn’t find them TOO hard. The only boss that really and truly frustrated me, oddly enough, was Beppi the Clown. But even the toughest boss feels so rewarding when you are able to beat them. I was able to pass with the lowest grade of B- and was even able to get a few A+ grades!

The platforming/run n gun levels (where you collect coins) I found more difficult and less enjoyable to be honest. Mainly because even though they’re short, there is just so much stuff thrown at you. I was honestly stuck on the run n gun levels of Inkwell Isle Three for over a week, that was how bad it got (I was able to beat the infamous Dr. Kahl’s Robot before those levels). They’re less fun and rewarding than the bosses, that’s for sure.

Despite the platforming, the bosses, challenging but engaging gameplay, and overall beauty of the game kept me interested and makes it one of my faves. But most of all, as a fellow Canadian, I feel a great sense of pride that an independent studio from my country can achieve worldwide fame and acclaim.

If you are interested in this game, please buy it legally from Steam and the Windows store. The creators had to quit their jobs and remortgage their houses to make the game possible. Luckily it paid off since the game has sold over 2 million copies, but still, they’re not exactly a big conglomerate corporation that won’t hurt over a few pirates. (I find it interesting that they had to go that route. I’m sure they could have put it on a crowdfunding website and it would have had the same success, but then again, maybe they didn’t want to potentially screw people over if the game didn’t succeed. Either way, it’s a rare risk that paid off.)

Here are some tips I have to help you win the game:

  • Don’t be afraid to look for help. If you are stuck, you can look up tutorials on YouTube on how to get ahead/look for secrets. The game should be fun most of all.
  • Similarly, don’t be afraid if it takes you a long time to finish the game. Again, the game should be fun, and you should be able to finish it at your own pace. Take your time if you need to.
  • The P Sugar charm is your friend. Use it as much as you can, especially on levels that require a lot of parrying.
  • The Chaser weapon is a good weapon to get you started, but be warned, it does not do a lot of damage. I recommend the Roundabout since it has a wide range (can hit more targets) and does a great deal of damage. The Lobber weapon is great if you have to shoot down at a target; I used it to beat the Dragon boss, Grim Matchstick.
  • I recommend using the Heart and Twin Heart Charms for the airplane levels since there’s a LOT of stuff that will be thrown your way. I don’t recommend them for other levels because they decrease your attack power and will draw out the level.
  • When you do the Pacifist mode for the Run and Gun Levels the Smoke Bomb charm will help you a lot.
  • Otherwise, keep firing. Fire fire fire. Use the Supers to your heart’s content.
  • Maneuverability is a HUGE asset to the game. This is something I admittedly lack since I kept dying a lot in the game. If you need to, you can go on simple mode to practice before using regular.
  • When you’re on King Dice’s level, use the P Sugar charm to help you with the dice because there will definitely be some mini bosses you will not like. Carefully determine which bosses you can handle and try to land on their number. Remember, if you lose to a mini boss you have to start the level all over again.
  • Most importantly, DON’T GIVE UP! You will beat the game, I promise. There were times when I thought I was going to be stuck for good but I got through it. You can do it too.

I’ll probably add some more when I beat the game on Expert, but overall, this should help you get started.

Finally, I should mention my fave characters. The bosses I found most fun to play were Werner Werman, Phantom Express, and Hilda Berg. The easiest were Goopy Le Grande and The Root Pack. In terms of characters I like on a personal or aesthetic level, my faves are Cagney Carnation (very original, I know), Baroness von Bon Bon, Cala Maria, and the Devil. I honestly love this game’s interpretation of the Devil. I love his overall design, the different forms he can shapeshift into, the attacks he can use, the animation on him, and how he’s just chilling on some random isle running his own casino. I also love the animation on King Dice.

Overall, this game was a blast and I’m really excited to see more adventures of these characters and more games from Studio MDHR.


How Same Face Criticism Can Become Sexist

Waaaay back in 2013, when Frozen came out, a lot of people pointed out one or both of two things: that Anna and Elsa had the same face, and/or that they had the same face as Rapunzel. It has since sparked the discourse of “Same Face Syndrome” looking at female character design in Disney animated movies.

At first, I was relatively on board with it. I mean, it seemed like a pretty big issue, especially since all three characters have huge-eyed heads on stick thin bodies. But by the time Big Hero 6 was being hyped, things got WAAAAAAAAAAAY out of hand.

The “Honey Lemon looks like Rapunzel!” claim has practically become a meme, but I noticed right away that it was less about wanting better representation and more about wanting to look for something to blame/make Disney look evil. Proof? The treatment of Gogo in fandom until the film’s release.

Gogo was either outright ignored in favour of debating Honey Lemon’s face, or, I shit you not, accused of looking like Elsa. I actually saw a post claiming that Honey Lemon looked like Rapunzel, Aunt Cass looked like Anna, and Gogo looked like Elsa. Not only is that extremely contradictory given how just the year before they claimed that Anna/Elsa/Rapunzel all looked the same (and now they admit there’s some differences) but I felt like the situation had gotten really sexist. The women of Big Hero 6 definitely don’t look identical to each other, have more diverse body shapes, and are scientists and superheroes…and the first thing you do is claim they all have the same face to make Disney look like the worst thing ever.

Like, all that mattered to these people was how the characters looked. Nothing else. Thankfully it mostly died down once the film was released, but the cycle began anew when Moana was in the works and people AGAIN tripped over themselves to justify saying that Moana looked like another Rapunzel clone. Yes, really. Because that’s not racist at all, taking the first Princess of Color in a long time and one of the few Polynesian characters in media and saying that she’s just another Rapunzel clone.

To add insult to injury, these people would be the type to claim that Disney was evil and DreamWorks Animation was so much better, showing how DreamWorks women have more diverse faces. Never mind that most DreamWorks female characters only exist in small or supporting roles and not as leads, all that matters is, again, their looks.

While it is important to have more female characters that aren’t doe-eyed waifs, at some point you have to realize that fixating solely on how a female character looks and not the role she plays in the story or how developed she is a character veers dangerously into sexist territory. You can be a woman and the hero of your own story but if you look too pretty or similar to another female character, it won’t matter as much.

The reason why I’m bringing this up again is because I came across some redesigns for the women of Overwatch. I don’t feel like it would be right to post the pictures here, so I will instead link you to them right HERE. (Disclaimer: this is NOT a personal attack on the editor or their editing skills, or saying that all the redesigns are bad. They have a right to criticize, I have a right to respond.)

While I have no problems with giving them thicker body types, what really strikes me is how some of the face redesigns are either unnecessary or uncanny valley. Like why do you need to redesign Ana and Moira? Their designs are pretty revolutionary for video game standards, and Moira just looks unappealing. Widowmaker is left in her unpractical outfit in order to give her zombielike eyes. I’m honestly really offended at the Zarya redesign; lord knows, we can’t have big buff women ALSO be beautiful and feminine at the same time.

See, the thing I liked about Overwatch was that is showed that ALL women can be beautiful and powerful. Women of colour, disabled women, older women, bigger women, you name it. There is definitely some deserved criticisms, such as making a lot of the women look very young and not having more women with thicker builds, but I just don’t understand why female character designs constantly need to be criticized and picked apart while nobody feels the need to redesign male characters for any reason.

Yes, it is important to be critical of things we love and consume. Yes, we need more diversity in female character designs. But if you find yourself overly fixated with how a character looks, point flaws that aren’t necessarily there, and don’t say anything about a male character’s design (beyond how he’s allowed to look different) at the expense at looking at the female character’s role in the story and how she can represent marginalized women…the problem might be with you first. But that’s just how I feel about it at least.

This Week In Disney

This has been a bit of a roller coaster of a week for Disney fans. So of course, I might as well reflect on it.


Series delay


Big Hero 6: The Series was originally supposed to be released in the US and Canada in March, but now that is not the case. In fact, the creators have absolutely no idea when it will start airing over here, other than the fact that when it does, there will be a lot of episodes ready to go. I can’t find it on the Twitter feed (but someone had screencapped it before), but apparently there’s a new ‘programming strategy’ in effect that’s delaying all the Disney TV shows.

This is very frustrating and part of the reason why my enthusiasm for the show has dropped. Having to wait SO LONG for new episodes only for them to come out just okay has really soured my feelings for the show. But more than anything, it shows that Big Hero 6 is not going to get the proper continuation it deserves with all the delays and hiatuses. Why do you think so many people would rather have a sequel?

But this is not really a new phenomena. Disney has always been crap with their treatment of TV shows. They tend to air shows at really crappy timeslots; the Tangled Series, which originally aired at a reasonable time on Sunday evenings, was suddenly switched to Saturday at 8am, when most people (kids and adults) would rather sleep in). The second season for Gravity Falls struggled to get off the ground, and the rarely give their shows, even the really popular ones, a proper DVD release (it took TEN YEARS for the second half of the second season of Gargoyles to come out on DVD). And of course so many of their other shows are still on hiatus (just look at the Ducktales Reboot).

What makes this weird is that apparently the show is airing early in Europe. Both the UK and Continental Europe are getting a LOT of hype for the show, with early access to shorts and even some of the episodes! I’m not sure if they’re run by different people there, or if Disney really wants to get the European market.

I’m not sure why the treatment of TV shows is so shoddy. If I had to guess, it might be because Disney doesn’t think the shows are as profitable or will have lasting value like their movies do. It’s hard to tell, but at some point, if they want to continue making shows and letting people watch them, they just need to start streaming them instead. They’re planning on launching a streaming network to rival Netflix in 2019, so they better use it to showcase ALL of their shows. It’s the least they could do. At any rate, the series isn’t really going to do the first BH6 movie justice at this point. Hopefully there will be some really good episodes to make up for the wait times.


FINALLY we get a clip of what to expect from Disney’s next movie and THIS IS SO EXCITING! I was initially worried they’d just post a very brief scene that wouldn’t even make it into the movie, but nope, we actually get to see Ralph and Vanellope traverse the world of the Internet!

So far, so good. The characters are in character, the animation is PHENOMENAL, and it even manages to have some dark humor that works (and don’t worry, Rich Moore confirmed that the bunny is okay). I can already tell there’s going to be a lot of social commentary about how we use the Internet along with the jokes (notice how the game the little girl plays has absolutely no educational value). I have faith Rich Moore can pull it off.

My only complaint is that they haven’t shown Yesss yet. I really want to know what she looks like and get an idea of what role she plays in the story.

But still, I’m excited as hell. The wait is going to hurt!


Since Disney cannot let Frozen go (pun intended), there’s going to be a sequel, probably in 2019. Yay?

Well, the latest buzz on the Internet is that Elsa might get a girlfriend!…sort of. According to director Jennifer Lee, she loves the #GiveElsaAGirlfriend momentum and how much Elsa means to LGBTQ audiences, and that she and her crew are very conscientious about it…but won’t confirm or deny anything. All she could say, in the vaguest way possible, that they’ll have to see what happens. (Source).

It would definitely be HUGE if Elsa got a female love interest, but I doubt Disney’s actually going to pull it off. They seem to be making progress with LGBTQ characters in television, but in movies, not so much. The hyped up Gay Lefou in the Beauty and the Beast remake is never openly said to be gay and dances with a man for about two seconds. I don’t know if Disney’s going to risk losing audiences for their biggest cashcow by explicitly giving Elsa a love interest or even saying that she’s lesbian or bisexual. If they DO I’ll be pleasantly surprised and give Frozen another chance, but, again, I have doubts. They’re more likely to just leave her single. I just hope they don’t give her a male love interest because that will add insult to injury. But we’ll see.

And finally, on February 27, Coco Day was celebrated at the Los Angeles City Hall! I don’t have much to say about it, other than holy shit this is probably the most important movie Disney and Pixar have made in a long time. Start HERE, and then look up more videos!

This has been a really awesome week for fandom in general (Overwatch announced a new hero!) but this is going to keep Disney fans satisfied for awhile. I’m definitely looking forward to where the company will go for 2018.


Why I’m Excited for Wreck-It Ralph 2, Less Excited for Big Hero 6: The Series

I love to analyze media. I love to challenge how people see things. I look to look at things from a different point of view. And I have no problems not being completely satisfied with everything that comes out and wanting more. So if I come across as hypercritical, it’s not because I’m constantly looking for something to hate. It’s because I believe everything should have high standards and be quality entertainment. It’s important to think critically about what you love and consume.

So with that in mind, because of how GOOD Big Hero 6 was, I set my expectations very high for the upcoming series and unfortunately, it did not meet them. I was able to see both Baymax Returns and an episode released for UK audiences (that of course the Internet managed to spread around the world) and I just didn’t like them.

Being as critical as I am, I couldn’t help but point out how ridiculous some of the plot elements were (so there are 80’s dancers in San Fransokyo who can control electricity like it’s nothing?) and how the overall tone and themes made it clear that it was meant more for kids. I’m not necessarily saying that’s bad, of course kids should have a show like this, but it proves to me I’m no longer the target audience and that the show is more of a fun, separate thing from the movie. (Remember, the creators made the show with the deliberate intention of generating hype for a sequel, which means that the show itself is not the actual sequel.)

I know the animation gets dragged a lot but I don’t really mind it too much (though there are times when it gets really stiff). What baffles me the most is that the design team took inspiration from 101 Dalmatians for the style. What the hell does that movie have to do with Big Hero 6? It’s way too angular and pointy for the first movie’s soft, round style.

But for me, the biggest reason why I cannot get into the show is because I HATE all the new characters. HATE.

Professor Granville, the replacement for Professor Callaghan at Hiro’s school, is one of those ‘tough but fair’ teachers that thinks being harsh on students is the best way for them to succeed. As someone who has had to deal with that type of person, I can say, no, we do not succeed when you are a hardass to us. Seeing her in the vicinity of one of my most beloved characters made me really uncomfortable. Fred has an 11 year old rival named Richardson Mole who creeps on Gogo (eww) and has a whole basement where he has games like Whack-a-Fred and video games that involve shooting at or beating up Fred. Again, that made me SUPER uncomfortable to see one of my fave characters like that.

Worst of all, there’s a new character called Karmi who is incredibly rude to Hiro (but is creepily obsessed with his superhero alter ego) that I’m supposed to sympathize because apparently she doesn’t have a support system in place. I don’t mind flawed characters, but when the first thing she does is talk about how Hiro is pathetic for liking Baymax because he’s not alive, I have absolutely no interest seeing her become Hiro’s friend.

See, Big Hero 6 is my ultimate comfort movie and the characters in it bring me so much joy. Seeing them have to deal repeatedly with characters who are bullies honestly hurts to watch. I know that may sound weird but as someone who has been bullied and identifies with these characters, that’s too much for me to handle. So, unfortunately, I cannot watch the show while it airs. I don’t even understand WHY all the new recurring characters need to be jerks when they’re already dealing with supervillains!

So yeah, it really sucks, but I cannot get excited for the show as much as I wanted to. Yet despite my feeling of dread and concern, I’m still excited as hell for Wreck-It Ralph 2. Why is that?

Well, I think I’m more confident in Wreck-It Ralph 2 because it’s a legit sequel made by the same production company (so we know it will be for everyone, not just kids) and made by the same people. Rich Moore wanted to make a sequel since pretty much when the first movie came out, so you know that he’ll be telling the story he wants to tell instead of handing it to totally new people. So I’m more comfortable knowing who is making the sequel.

And while I don’t like the new characters for the BH6 series I’m actually excited for a new character in the WIR sequel, Yesss. We don’t know much about her but from what I’ve heard from people who went to the D23 Expo, she’s probably Ralph’s love interest and not an absolute jerk.

See, having all new characters in the BH6 series seems a little superfluous since the first movie already had so many characters. I understand having the new teacher, but why do we need a character like Karmi when we need to develop the relationships between each member of the team first? Wreck-It Ralph has more room for a new character, and it would be interesting to see how a character from the Internet gets along with old video game characters.

The idea of Yesss being Ralph’s love interest is actually appropriate. Ralph has been really lonely for the thirty years of his existence and has been told that he’s ugly and worthless and bad. So, having a love interest that finds him desirable is kind of important. It would also be a realistic way to add an interesting conflict to the story: what happens when Ralph realizes he finds himself being romantically involved with someone, and how will Vanellope take it?

Am I still nervous for the sequel? Of course I am. (I’m a little worried that the crossover material will draw attention away from the main characters.) But I’m more comfortable because I know it’s the same people with the same standards of storytelling rather than completely new people having to rework something for children’s television.

So far it looks like I’m not the only person who is ambivalent towards the BH6 series. And that’s okay. You don’t have to like EVERYTHING about the show. You can just be okay with it. You can like it without having to justify it. You can dislike it! You can absolutely want more!

And it’s okay to not like the new characters, especially Karmi. I’ve seen people on social media gushing over how she’s a precious bean and must be protected (which strikes me as completely artificial given how aggressive she is to Hiro) and that you’re sexist if you dislike her. I scoff at that notion. While more representation for minority groups is important, you don’t have to like EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM, especially if they’re assholes or underdeveloped. You can demand better. You can demand more female characters that have more development and are kinder while being assertive and not be a misogynist.

Furthermore, you don’t have to like every follow up product to something you love. You can admit when something is flawed or just okay. You can dislike some aspects of it, or not like it at all. You can demand better stories, better characters, and better representation.

Never settle for crap when you can have gold.




From Book to Film: Perfect Blue

If you’re an anime fan (or a fan of animation in general) you’ve probably seen or at least heard of the anime film Perfect Blue, directed by the late Satoshi Kon.

Image result for perfect blue poster

What you probably didn’t know was that the anime is actually an adaptation of a book: Perfect Blue: Complete Metamorphosis by Yoshikazu Takeuchi.

Originally published in 1991 (the anime came out in 1997), the book was only picked up for an English translation and release this winter. It’s pretty short and simple to read, but man, what a read!

Recently I’ve had trouble reading actual books (that weren’t comics); I would pick up one book with interest only to abandon it later. But with this book, I could not put it down. It kept me hooked from start to finish. It was a genuine thriller, with a lot of twists and a smashing ending.

It is worth noting, however, that the book is actually quite different from the anime.

In the book, Mima does not switch careers from a pop idol to an actress; she stays an idol but decides to revamp her image. An unnamed male stalker does not like the idea of his seemingly pure, perfect, virginal idol becoming sexier and ‘tarnished’. He’ll go to any lengths to keep her the way she is. It’s a really chillingly accurate and scary depiction of an obsessed, misogynistic fan who views female celebrities as icons and not as real people, feeling entitled to them and not taking it well when they no longer fit his image, but takes it to a very, very, VERY extreme.

The book is actually pretty simple and straightforward. This is an instance of a film adaptation that actually adds MORE detail and layers rather than simplifying it. The film focuses less on the stalker and more on Mima and how the pressures of changing careers and how the world views her takes a toll on her mental health, blurring the lines between what’s real and what’s not. It’s not just a stalker she has to worry about; someone she thought she could trust turns on her as well.

I can definitely understand why the adaptation is not totally faithful to the book though. If it was, the film would be too short (probably only about an hour long) and WAAAY too gross (flaying is involved. That’s all I’m going to spoil). It also explores the messed up world of pop idols in further detail from the pop idol’s point of view.

While the movie is a definite work of art, there were a few things I actually did like better in the book. Mainly, the characters. While Mima has a bigger role in the movie, I find her more confident and assertive in the book. And I like how the people she works with genuinely care about her and want her to succeed, rather than exploit her. The movie also isn’t exactly the best depiction of mental health, either.

That said, I can absolutely enjoy both versions of the story. They serve as great companion pieces for each other. They both share the same premise: what happens when a seemingly ‘pure’ girl tries to sex up her image, and how people react to that.

If you like the premise but find the movie too hard to follow (I admit I got a little annoyed at parts), I recommend the book. If you’re interested in a scary, intense thriller, I also recommend the book. If you’re interested in exploring the mind of a stalker and predator that also humanizes the women he preys on, I recommend the book. Actually, I recommend the book to everyone. It helped reinvigorate my love of reading.

Just a few warnings: the book is suggested for ‘older teens’, but I think a mature rating is more appropriate. There’s a lot of graphic violence and sexuality. A child is killed at one point in the story, and another female character is raped and murdered (the rape is censored though). It’s not necessarily exploitative or meant to titillate readers, but it can be upsetting.

If you can get past that, the book is amazing and a great way to explore the world of Japanese storytelling beyond anime and manga. I hope to find more Japanese novels and short stories translated into English; maybe the success of this book can help.



The Missing Voice in the Diversity Conversation

I’m not sure if I’m going to back to a regular blogging soon (I’m in my last term of college!) but I am bringing this up because it’s a serious issue that effects me personally and persists even today.

When people on social media talk about the need for diversity, there is a huge focus on three groups: people of colour, LGBTQ+ people, and women. And it is true, we absolutely need to talk about the need to represent these groups in a meaningful and positive way. But in these discussions on diversity, there is a huge problem: the focus is ONLY on these groups. You know who gets left out almost all the time?

Disabled people. Autistic people. People who have mental health problems other than anxiety and depression. People who have developmental disorders. In other words, people like me, and the people I work with as a social service worker.

It bothered me for awhile, but after coming across a particular Disney critical blog, I finally pinpointed why this is a big issue. When we talk about how damaging it is to have an all white, all male, or all straight cast (and it is), no one talks about how having absolutely no positive disabled and neurodivergent people can be just as bad. When you go on lengths on why representation for neurotypical and able bodied marginalized groups is important and that there needs to be outrage when none exists, it gives me the unfortunate implication (intentional or not) that disabled people are just supposed to shut up and take it when there are no autistic characters, no characters in wheelchairs, no characters who can’t see or hear very well, etc. Where’s the outrage for people like me when every character is allistic and the only canon autistic characters tend to be stereotypes?

In many discussions about diversity and inclusiveness online people need to be reminded that disabled and neurodivergent people exist and are just as important. They need to be pointed out when a show or movie is ableist. They only add in the need for disabled characters as an afterthought. I have actually seen some people call bigotry a “disease” or “mental illness” a few times. Sometimes if a character is clearly coded to be mentally ill they’ll either completely ignore it or jump over hoops to say they aren’t in order to justify their hatred for them.

The point is, even in places that are supposed to be inclusive, and even when people claim they respect diversity and want representation for all people, disabled and neurodivergent people (again, people like me and the population I serve) typically get left behind, and are only brought up in the most extreme cases or when it is convenient.

This needs to stop. We live in a world where mental illness and disability are depicted inaccurately, as villains and monsters, or as stereotypes. Accurate and positive representation is still incredibly rare, and there isn’t as strong a push for it. Systemic bigotry against women, LGBTQ+ people, and people of color are very real and present in the media, and must be addressed and dismantled. But you need to remember that systemic ableism is also very real and present and needs to consistently be part of the conversation.


The Problem With Princesses

If you’ve read my thoughts on Moana and Frozen, you know that I am done with new Disney Princess movies. I find that Disney is too focused on making their princess features as marketable and politically correct as possible, at the detriment of telling original, interesting stories and complex characters. But lately I realized that my disdain of new Disney Princesses is a symptom of a larger problem I’ve noticed: the overabundance of princess characters in media.

Princess Peach. Princess Zelda. Xena, Warrior Princess. Princess Serenity. Princess Sally Acorn. Princess Allura. Princess Diana of Themyscira. Princess Leia. Princess Bubblegum (and all the countless princesses in the land of Ooo). Even the great Miyazaki has some of his female characters be princesses when they could easily be ordinary girls. This is just a small sampling of the many, many, MANY princess characters in media aimed at kids. You can find a (possibly incomplete) list HERE. After looking at that list, what did you notice they all seem to have in common?

That, if they are in media aimed at boys, the princess is sometimes the ONLY prominent female character, and if they’re in media aimed at girls, it’s the princess who is the most important character out of all the other girls.

This is a problem for a few reasons. The biggest reason to me being the sheer lack of other roles female characters in kids media get. Boys can be soldiers, knights, kings, pilots, scientists, adventurers, speedsters, plumbers, and even complete average joes and still be important and heroes. Girls by and large still tend to only get the role of princesses, especially if they’re the main female character. Obviously, not ALL kid’s media shoehorns their female protagonists into the role of the princess, but it goes to show that, in a lot of instances, the first instinct is to make her a princess and not, well, anything else.

Let’s go back to Disney for a bit. Take a look at all the Disney Animated Canon films that center on human female characters: Snow White, Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, Sleeping Beauty, The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Pocahontas, Mulan, The Princess and the Frog, Tangled, Frozen and Moana (Aladdin doesn’t count because Jasmine is not the focus on the film, and I hesitate to include Lilo & Stitch because Stitch gets all the marketing focus and he carries the central plot). Out of 56 films released so far, only 12 films have female characters as the central protagonist, and with one exception, they’re all princess films. Meanwhile, Disney male heroes get a much wider range of roles like it’s no big deal. (No surprise: most of my most fave Disney movies are male-led because of this.)

There are two other problems with the princess trope. One of them being the sheer lack of positive QUEEN roles. Queens in media are either nonexistent, villains, or only provide a tiny supportive role. In either case, it’s the princess’s father who is more important. There are also situations where the princess is the only person in charge and her parents are either dead or out of commission, but she still doesn’t go by the title of queen. This is still apparently a problem today; in My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, Luna and Celestia were supposed to be queens, but the marketing team intervened to have them be called princesses instead. The princess role isn’t really that empowering the more you think of it (it’s a role you are assigned at since birth and you’re expected to look and act a certain way as you find a husband) but at least as a queen you get some real power. Apparently that’s too much for some people.

And finally, my big problem with the princess trope is that it kind of reinforces that only princesses get to be beautiful and important. In some cases, the princess character can be harder to sympathize with because they come from a place of immense privilege. Why should I care if you want more when you have everything you could possibly want? But more than anything, any other female character in the princess’s respective media gets left out in the cold so the audience and other characters can coo over her.

I feel like now is the time to introduce girls to other types of female characters. Show them that the they can be more than just princesses. Give us female knights, pilots, explorers, scientists and blue collar workers. Give ordinary, everyday girls the fantasy that they can save the world.

And of course, let’s have more female rulers and leaders that aren’t princesses. In a world where women still struggle to be in positions of power, I think it’s about time we show girls that it’s better to be a president than a princess.

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