Fans Are Petitioning to Make Leia an Official Disney Princess. Is That a Thing We Want to See Happen?
In the wake of Carrie Fisher’s passing, a number of fans are petitioning Disney to add Princess/General Leia Organa to their full list of official Disney Princesses.
If you’re not aware, just being a princess in the Disneyverse isn’t enough to make you a Princess with a capital P. “Disney Princess” is its own full franchise, with merchandise, movies, sing-along videos, and other elements specific to itself. And this Change.org petition (started by a man named Cody Christensen and signed, as of writing this, by almost 60,000 others)
After the tragic loss of Carrie Fisher, we feel that it is only fitting for Disney to do away with the rule that an official Disney princess must be animated and make Leia a full-fledged princess. This would be a wonderful way to remember Carrie and a welcoming to one of Disney’s new properties that is beloved by millions.
What we are asking is that the Walt Disney Corporation hold a full ceremony inducting Leia as the newest Disney princess as well as a special service in memory of Carrie Fisher.
It’s not likely that these signatures will actually do much in swaying Disney execs one way or the other, but it’s a nice show of support for a move they’ve no doubt already been discussing, if not already dismissed.
The rules of qualification do change, as with Mulan expanding the definition of Princess to include those female characters who are “royal by birth, royal by marriage, or considered a ‘princess’ due to their significant portrayal of heroism in their film.” And with Disney buying Marvel and Lucasfilm, one would assume they have to be considering the possibility of adding live action characters to the lineup. So I would imagine that even more than the animated character element, the hesitation to add Leia to the lineup is financial.
In addition to being a group of role models for young girls, Disney Princess is, more than anything else, a money-maker. That’s why the franchise was created in the first place. So that’s, most likely, what this will come down to. And it’s not like more of Leia wouldn’t have us throwing our money at them. (Plus, wouldn’t it be cool to see a whole line of merchandise without a metal bikini in sight?)
But it’s not as simple as just making money. Elsa and Ana notably aren’t featured in the official Disney Princess lineup, presumably because Frozen’s own merchandising brings in too much money to justify splitting it up. Would a Star Wars character fall into the same category?
So Disney has a big list of pros and cons for making this happen, but what about our list for wanting it? Is this something you want to see happen?
For many of us, the term “Princess” can elicit a knee-jerk reaction of judgement. We don’t want girls aspiring to be Princess Leia, we want them to admire General Organa! And that’s a reasonable concern. For all that Leia accomplished through all the films, “Princess” might feel reductive.
Princess Leia was great, but General Organa was Fisher’s real gift to us. And she’s who I’m going to be looking to in dark times.
— Anne Thériault (@anne_theriault) December 27, 2016
But again, Mulan changed the rules for what is considered a Princess. Heroism is a Princess quality. Instead of shunning the title—especially for those of us outside of the franchise’s target demographic range—is it worth trying to embrace this new and expanding, as well as empowering, definition?
We’re finally entering an era where the separation between traditional “boy stuff” and girl stuff” is starting to fall away. There’s not quite the same stigma around a young female Star Wars fan (although it does still exist for many), especially with two female-led movies in a row. Still, to expand such an iconic female character’s reach beyond the Star Wars franchise into the Princesses, it’s hard to imagine that wouldn’t end up introducing a whole new range of girls into the sci-fi/fantasy fold. And as we watch the construct of gender-based fandom fall away, too many girls still feel like they need permission to enter into that world. A bridge between the Star Wars fanbase and the Disney Princess franchise could go a long way to making every child feel welcome everywhere.
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