Watching "The Wizard of Oz" and "Star Wars" with his son and daughter made communications expert Colin Stokes wonder about the stories we celebrate. Thanks to a growing awareness of gender representation, the world is now safe for girls in armor - but is the hero journey we've gotten used to inherently limiting? This funny and thought-provoking talk from TEDxBeaconStreet will make you look twice at your favorite films.
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Jan. 2nd, 2013
I was in the Disney store at the mall yesterday and as usual I gaze at all of the merchandise for my favorite character, Mulan. But as usual, I see her featured exclusively in this particular outfit, her “matchmaking” clothes. It actually frustrates me a bit to see her constantly marketed and commodified in this outfit because it’s the outfit that she feels least comfortable with wearing and the one which embodies everything about her journey that she’s trying to leave behind. But of course, because it’s the most “princess-like” and the most feminine, it has to be the outfit that is sold, as if it’s supposed to be her most iconic look. Not only that, but she’s in these clothes for maybe fifteen minutes at most, and only in the beginning. There should be dolls and representations of her in her training uniform, in her soldier’s armor, in short hair, in any of the several other outfits in the movie that better illustrate who Mulan is.
The merchandise intentionally plays down Mulan’s heroic journey in order for her to conform to the “princess” label. Merchandizing her in only this outfit inadvertently erasing all of Mulan’s heroic qualities rather than allow her to stick out amongst the “Disney princesses” to show a more well-rounded group of women.