How does the fairytale end?

The wonderful world of Disney has implanted the idea of Prince Charming into girl’s heads but as they grow into women they are left with just the story. Prince Eric, Shang, and Hercules were the heartthrobs of young girls’ hearts before being replaced by boy band wonders such as Nick Carter and (still) Justin Timberlake. The promise of true love has been implanted but is nothing more than an empty promise.


Well Walt, where is he?


Love stories did not stop with Disney. The helpless female and the heroic male roles have been played out and spun into best sellers. Take Twilight for example. With more than 17 million copies sold worldwide, young women have been overlooked in lacklustre writing in favour of the enticement of “Team Jacob or Edward.” Bella Swan is the classic damsel in distress and shows little to no admirable qualities but instead promotes the idea that a male counterpart is more significant than independence.


For years writers have profited from the female heart and television is no different.


Recently, shows such as The Walking Dead have been a prime example of simpleton female characters almost as lifeless as the zombies. The show has weak female protagonists such as Lori that rely heavily on males for stability, safety and livelihood.


Cult classic Sex and the City built six seasons around men and Carrie, Charlotte, Miranda and Samantha’s relationships with them. One could argue that friendship of four women in New York City was the predominate story line, but when you really break it down the topic at the breakfast table was always about men.


Charlotte depicted the lovesick woman who constantly projected the ideals set out by fairy tales onto her relationships and fittingly ends up with Mr. Right and a perfect family, while independent Miranda and man-eater Samantha’s storylines ended with monogamous relationships. The narrator, Carrie Bradshaw, allowed her prince charming to cheat, lie and deceive her, promoting the idea that if you wait long enough for a guy to grow up, he eventually will.


Popular culture is constantly promoting the idea that without someone, you are no one but there are some rule breakers from the past and present who challenge the Disney dream.


Pride and Prejudice is a prime example of this. The novel, written by literary royalty Jane Austen, features the self-sufficient Elizabeth Bennett who falls for the pompous but admirable Mr. Darcy. Throughout the novel, the reader is introduced to several of Elizabeth’s relationships including the rough waters between her and her mother, Mrs. Bennett, the close bond with oldest sister Jane and her touching relationship with her father, Mr. Bennett. She is not smitten by Mr. Darcy and approaches the relationship with the caution and logic that was often absent from courting in early 19th century England.


In music, Taylor Swift’s new hit Shake It Off promotes the idea of being who you are and not living for someone else. Her grown-up perspective shakes the earlier ideas of her songs such Today Was a Fairytale and the idea of waiting for a prince, which is shattered in her song White Horse. Even in interviews she encourages her listeners to write their own love stories and not to wait for the Disney fairytale to happen.


Love stories should be written and read, but with the ideals of strong, independent women that Walt Disney lacked.


In 1985, American cartoonist Alison Bechdel first introduced the Bechdel test in her cartoon strip Dykes to Watch Out For. The test asks the reader or viewer to analyze the material they are subjecting themselves to by asking three questions: 1) Does it have more than one female character in it, 2) If so, do they talk to each other, and 3) Do they talk about something that doesn’t involve men.


The relevance of both male and female characters should be valued in film, television and literacy. It is time we start looking up to females who never wait to be saved, but instead are their own heroes.

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Raechel Bonomo is a second-year journalism student at Durham College, a fashion writer and enthusiast / crafter extraordinaire.