Conclusions, Implications, Recommendations
In this chapter, the researchers will be narrating a summary of the previous chapters of the paper. This would help the readers recall what has been discussed and would aid in determining if the problems of the study were answered by the researchers.
The researchers introduced the Disney princesses and their synopsis at the beginning of the paper. The original Disney princess films franchise list began with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) where a beautiful girl lived in the house of seven dwarves to hide from her stepmother, the evil Queen. It was followed by Cinderella (1950) where Cinderella is oppressed by her stepmother and stepsisters but is saved by the prince in the end. The Sleeping Beauty (1959) focused on the main character Princess Aurora being saved by a handsome prince when her cursed was fulfilled on her sixteenth birthday. The first three Disney Princesses movies are in the Classical era of the Disney princesses. The Renaissance era began with Little Mermaid (1989) where the main protagonist is Ariel, a mermaid who wanted to become human because she fell in love with a prince. The researchers then mentioned how women’s portrayal were starting to evolve in Beauty and the Beast (1991) and Aladdin (1992). However, it can be noted that the researchers haven’t analyzed each film yet. Moreover, Pocahontas (1995) focused on the main protagonist saving her village and Mulan (1998) who also saved her people. The Princess and the Frog (2009) then introduced the Modern Era. The Modern Era Disney princesses became more ambitious. Tiana was the first African-American Disney princess who wanted to have her own restaurant. Tangled (2010) is about the lost princess who dreamt of seeing the lights. Brave (2012) focused on Merida and how she didn’t want to be a princess. Frozen (2013) was the Disney movie that changed the typical boy-saves-girl story when Anna saves her sister, Elsa. The Disney princesses list ended with Moana (2016), Disney’s most recent princess film.
Statement of the Problem
There were four problems the researchers wanted to answer. The first problem is how do the animated Disney Princess films contribute to the development of female characters of Disney princesses. The second problem of the research is what are the feminine characteristics displayed by the Disney princesses. Moreover, the third statement of the problem asked what masculine characteristics are displayed by the Disney princesses. What are the development of the gender role portrayals of the Disney princesses in the animated Disney princess films is the last statement of the problem. This question was followed by a follow-up question if the Disney princesses display gender roles stereotypically or androgynously.
Statement of Objectives
The research aimed to identify how Disney princess films portray the gender roles of Disney princesses in their respective films. Their purpose is to study how these films contributed to the development of female characters of Disney princesses. Moreover, the researchers desired to note the feminine or formulaic qualities and masculine characteristics of these princesses. Through this study, the pair would be able to contribute insights to help Disney filmmakers, writers, and the Disney industry in improving their method and style in portraying Disney princesses.
Significance of the Study
Other than the possible effects of the gender role portrayal of Disney princesses on the viewers, the readers would be given a wider scope of understanding of these princesses. This study would be important to current and future students of the University of Santo Tomas especially Communication Arts majors who are interested in the field of films. Current and future filmmakers would also benefit from this study as the findings would contribute to their current knowledge and would help them create better characters in their future films. Feminist study can also benefit from this study. It would inform feminists about the way Disney depicts gender roles of their princesses. This study may also be important to current and future writers as this would aid in improving the princess formula and help in crafting better and more unpredictable plot for future stories. Finally, ordinary readers can benefit since they would have an idea of the development of the Disney princesses and how it might affect their life as Disney plays a part in a child’s upbringing.
Scope and Limitations
The scope and limitations of the study narrowed down the study because there are already several researches about the portrayal of the gender roles of Disney princesses. The researchers decided to do the same, however, with the addition of the newest Disney princess, Moana. The researchers also discussed about limiting the study to films. The study focused on purely animated Disney princess movies. The term Disney princess was also defined in this part of the paper. A Disney princess is not defined as the daughter of a monarch or wife of a prince but rather is described as being part of the princess franchise of Disney. In terms of deciding which animated Disney Princesses movies to include, the pair decided to choose the original Disney princess films. Therefore, sequels and series after original films would not be included in the study.
The pair also narrowed down the study to the gender role portrayals even though there are different representations of characters in Disney princess films because not all movies have elderly characters, children, and the likes. Additionally, this study would not cover the effects of the gender role portrayals of Disney princess films. Although the researchers are aware of the possible effects of watching Disney movies, they chose not to include this in their study. This is strictly an observation of the gender role portrayal of the Disney princesses. Therefore, exploring the factors that are affecting the creation and development of the Disney princesses is also not included.
Review of Related Literature
In this chapter, the researchers listed down the studies and articles that are relevant to their research. The study of England, Descartes and Collier-Meek (2011) has examined the gender role portrayals through three hypotheses. These hypotheses helped the pair identify the gender roles portrayed by the princesses in the films. The first hypothesis predicted that the gender role of the prince and princess would differ. The second hypothesis focused on the number of times the princess was saved. Lastly, the third hypothesis highlighted the variations that occurred in the films over time. As it was seen, there was an increase in the androgynous characteristics in the results of their analysis. Collins (2011) also observed gender roles in media with three hypotheses. With the first hypothesis, the author’s observation has expected that women are underrepresented across a range of media and if represented, they are often sexualized. Lastly, women are illustrated in their stereotypical roles. The author then challenged the readers to consider the effects of how media portray women. With the hypotheses of Collins (2011), she enumerated the roles in media of women which also affected the portrayal of women in Disney princesses. This helped the researchers understand the era where the films were released. However, in relation to the study made by Maity (2014), a scholar from the Department of English of University of Burdwan, she focused her study on gender identity and gender roles of Disney movies and saw how identity is transformed through long term virtues and ideas. The stereotypical portrayals of the female in Disney films were emphasized in her study. It was noticed that the representation of women was gender biased and that the term “women” has become synonymous with the victim in the patriarchal society. An example was that women should stay at home similar to the story of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, The Sleeping Beauty, and Cinderella. Compared with these studies, another researcher of Sex Roles used a wider range of media to provide a qualitative content analysis on gender roles of media. Since the study focused on the female characters of Disney, it helped the researchers in their observations while analyzing characteristics of the protagonist especially their roles in being a victim or the Damsel in Distress. Nonetheless, Do Rozario (2004), a researcher from the Centre of Drama and Theatre Studies at Monach University, analyzed Disney princess in terms of the princess’ “position in her kingdom, in her relationships to femme fatale, fathers, and bad boys, and the performance in a genre shaped by film musical and fairytale” (p. 34). With the observation made by the author, the princesses lived in a patriarchal society. It was explained that the villains of the story are the femme fatale of the film as they illustrated that the authentic power come from bad women. As the author has successfully analyzed the function and importance of the roles of the Disney princesses, the researchers were able to understand the character design of the princesses or the female main character in the chosen films of this study. As the researchers considered the princesses’ positions in the kingdom, the pair had an opportunity to observe how the patriarchal society affected the gender roles of the princesses.
Focusing more on the content of the Disney films, researchers Lopreore and Gazda both emphasized their studies on analyzing the films depending on how they were formulated by Disney. Lopreore (2016) used qualitative methods to analyze the content of modern Disney Princess films. Like the researchers aforementioned, she tested her objectives with three hypotheses. Her first hypothesis was supported by a qualitative data on the difference of the gender role portrayals of princes and princesses. In her second hypothesis, it was, however, supported by finding of more egalitarian gender role portrayals. The result of the third hypothesis exhibited the androgynous gender role portrayals of each Disney princesses as it revealed the number of masculine characteristics did not significantly differ from the feminine features portrayed by princesses. In another article, Gazda (2015) argued that Disney has focused less on the genuine qualities and moralities of Disney princesses and has concentrated on finding true love. She observed that there was a necessary presence of a male figure or a prince for the princess to achieve her goals. Gazda also observed that there is a vast difference in the characteristics between the prince and princesses of the story. She recommended that there should be a change in the design of Disney princesses so that young viewers can be relate to them better. To sum up the similarities of the authors in terms of content, their observations explained their analysis on the content as the change and evolution of the portrayal of women occur. The changes may be minimal or distinct, each period or set of the release of films showed a difference in their content. With the content analysis done by these authors, it helped the pair in considering to observe the androgynous gender role portrayals of the Disney princesses of the films.
Disney films were released in different eras wherein the changes in the portrayal of women occurred as mentioned in the previous paragraphs. Since there were evolution and variations in the content and portrayal, some researchers created studies that shows the transition of the Disney princesses. Garabedian (2014) was detailed in explaining each transition she assigned in each era. She defined these eras as the Pre-Transition as the first wave of feminism period. The second period portrayed after effects of the second wave of feminism as mentioned by Krlokke (2014), the second wave had “documenting sexism in private as well as public life and delivering a criticism of gendered patterns of socialization” (p. 23); The Progression which is the third period did not break the princess pattern. In this period, the films Brave and Frozen made a shift where the opportunity of breaking the stereotype of the princess-needs-prince pattern has occurred. However, a researcher from Indiana State University, Barber (2015), made a study on the different shifts that happened in the Disney films, similar with Garabedian (2014). Barber named the shifts according to the characteristics portrayed by the Princesses. The first shifts are princesses that were portrayed as the stereotypical damsels in distress. The second shift was about the princesses were rebellious and ambitious. Lastly, the third shift was about the princesses who were independent and free-spirited. The separation of the films according to the transition that occurred and the changes in portrayal of women made a great impact to its audience especially to its heavy viewers. With the use of shifts and transitions, it helped the pair to observe the shift in the portrayal of the princesses, as it also goes along with the change of women in the society in different periods. The pair was able to see the shifts and transitions that Disney made and it became useful to observe the characteristics of the Disney princesses.
The researchers gathered data that claimed that the study on the gender roles portrayed in films were stereotypical whether that the audience are aware of it or not. In the articles gathered for this study mostly mentioned children and girls who can possibly be influenced by the changes made in the Disney films. There were studies and articles that showed the variations from the content of the films as it differs on the era that it was released or on the shifts that was created by some researchers. There were also studies and articles on the variation of women portrayal, again, depending on the era that it was released. At first, they were released when women were portrayed as weak and should always be saved by a man. In comparison, the recent movies nowadays, give a different story on how women can also be heroines of their own stories.
The researchers of the study explored possible theories that would support their paper. These theories are the Eagly’s Social Role theory, Cultivation theory, the Social Constructionism theory and the Gender Schema theory.
In the first theory, the researchers explained the three patterns:
(1) Household roles are taken by women more,
(2) People have distinct occupational positions depending on their gender, and
(3) Women have more inferior job positions than men.
This principle recognized the historical division of labor between men and women (Eagly, 1987). With that being said, the theory showed the affirmation of society’s assumption of women having weaker characteristics than men since men are used as princes and the heroes of the story. However, in Moana (2016), they changed their formula and gave women the power to be the heroine of their own stories.
Another theory was the Cultivation theory, wherein the researchers acknowledged that the exposure of films may result to an influence to its viewers on its content especially that the content varies through the years. The Constructivist approach and Cultivation theory verified the effects of viewing stereotypical gender roles on audiences. Children are mostly mentioned when it comes to being influenced by the content showed by Disney in their films. One of the studies said that “viewing stereotyped or egalitarian depictions of gender roles will influence children’s ideas about gender” (England et al, 2011, p. 557). In the same theory, Griffin (2014) explains that Cultivation theory is a theory that discusses that a long-term exposure to media violence may have effects at conscious and unconscious levels. This theory emphasized the influences that may occur on its viewers.
Social Constructionism Theory studies the development of different occurrences in society. It was mentioned that Society is viewed depending on a person’s objective and subjective form of reality. This is also mainly concerned with examining the process by which people describe or explain the world in which they live in (Gergen, 2011). This theory explains how concepts, ideas, and other issues are formed. The existing notions of society are formed because men naturally construct and inhabit a world with others. Thus, people give them reality through social agreement.
Lastly, in the Gender Schema theory, it was mentioned that people created an understanding of the world by arranging them into concepts (Klein et al., 2000). It depends on the people surrounded by their environment. Furthermore, stereotypes have been defined as “standardized conceptions of people, primarily based on an individual’s belonging to a category” (Schweinitz, 2011, p.4).
The theories and their principles explained each part of this study to be able to support all the arguments made by the researchers. Two diagrams were utilized to explain the theories and how they intertwine with each other and the concepts of the study were shown in this part of the paper.
In this chapter, the researchers discussed how they came up with their topic “The Study of the Development of Androgynous Gender Role Portrayals from Stereotypical of Disney Princesses in the Original Disney Princess Films Franchise.” It is due to the rising popularity of Disney movies not only catering to young viewers but also to the older audience especially with classical animated Disney films turning into live action ones.
To start off with the study, the pair utilized both online and printed sources such as journals, books, Internet articles, and movie reviews that discussed the topic. They have also watched the Disney Princesses films together. This research is therefore qualitative in nature. The following steps will be the step by step approach of the group. First, the researchers would watch the chosen films without criticizing them. Next, they would be viewing the first movie Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) while listing down all their observations. The researchers may pause the video while tallying the behaviors and characteristics displayed by the princesses. After observing the first movie, the researchers will then watch the next movie, Cinderella (1950). This procedure would continue until the researchers would have viewed all of the chosen Disney Princesses movies. After watching the movies, they will be analyzing the development of the gender role portrayal of Disney princesses and how the Disney princesses evolved from the stereotypical Snow White to the androgynous Moana.
The researchers mentioned that their research took several days to watch and observe the princesses of each movie. After gathering the information needed, the researchers presented the tallied results in a form of tables. They described in detail what happened and how the princesses acted in a particular situation. With this, the group came up with a more profound analysis as to how the gender role portrayal of Disney princess in the movies evolved. It can be noted that the researchers chose to conduct a close reading method in contrast with using interviews, focus group discussions, and surveys. It is because the study mainly focuses on the development of the androgynous gender role portrayal from stereotypical of Disney princesses.
Data Presentation, Analysis, Interpretation
The researchers listed down their observations and analysis of the original Disney princess films franchise in this chapter. A table of observations was presented. Each princess was described in detail. After the list of observations, the analysis and interpretation began with the definition of each category, then the classification of the characteristics of each princess, and finally a summary of each category. Female Stereotypes is the first category. The researchers concluded that while the classical princesses like Snow White and Cinderella display strong stereotypical characteristics, modern princesses like Elsa and Moana abandoned these stereotypes all together.
This category was followed by Damsel in Distress. The researchers listed down how each princess was a damsel in distress in their story. They concluded that the evolution of princesses from being damsels in distress to heroines of the story is evident. The modern princesses proved that the Disney princess film franchise has developed as all of their princesses are heroines.
Moreover, the third category is being independent. The evolution of princesses from being dependent to independent is evident. The classical princesses demonstrated that they relied on others to help or rescue them. During the Renaissance era, the princesses have developed to independent women. Ariel is the only one to have shown dependence while Belle, Jasmine, Pocahontas, and Mulan have shown characteristics of independence. Furthermore, the modern princesses proved that the Disney princess film franchise has developed as all of their princesses are highly independent.
The next category which is androgynous qualities, is opposite to the female stereotypes. It was concluded that the classical princesses strongly displayed female stereotypes while princesses during the renaissance era portrayed a mix of both. The modern princesses evidently displayed androgynous characteristics. However, Disney didn’t totally abandon stereotypical female qualities.
Quick to fall in love was also as category of the analysis. Love is included in the film most of the time to create a more interesting storyline. However, love is often portrayed to develop quickly. Although it is understood that love is different from others, it can still be observed that Disney has their own way of portraying women falling in love. After watching all the movies, the researchers found out that princesses “falling in love quickly” slowly diminished.
Heroine of the story is the last category of the observations. The female protagonists of Disney are considered the heroine of the story if they’re the ones who solve the conflict of the film. The change in character design of the main female character in the Disney Princesses films was very dominant when Disney released the film Beauty and the Beast. Although the character of Jasmine in Aladdin and Rapunzel in Tangled was still a Damsel in distress, Disney was still consistent in changing the stereotype in female characters through the years of making films with Disney Princesses in it. Therefore, Disney did change their main female protagonist of their stories and transformed them to heroines of the story.
The chapter ended with a conclusion that the gender role portrayal of Disney princesses did, in fact, developed over the years. The usual formulaic Disney princess and storyline were replaced by more diverse characters and unpredictable plot. The researchers observed that the Disney princesses changed. They became more active, more independent, and more androgynous. In the end, the researchers can conclude that there is indeed a development in the gender role portrayal of Disney princesses.
To conclude, the result showed that there is in fact a development in the gender role portrayal of the Disney princesses. In the first chapter, the pair stated four problems that needed to be answered. The first problem is how do the animated Disney Princess films contribute to the development of female characters of Disney princesses. The researchers observed that the female characters of Disney princesses are parallel to the Disney Princess films. The princesses were evolving while the storyline of the films was changing. The second problem of the research is what are the feminine characteristics displayed by the Disney princesses. This question was answered through a close reading of the 13 original Disney princess films franchise. The third statement of the problem asked what masculine characteristics are displayed by the Disney princesses. The researchers observed that some Disney princesses portrayed masculine characteristics. The androgynous characteristics displayed by the princesses first began with Pocahontas and Mulan, last princesses of the Renaissance era. However, it can be noted that the modern era princesses like Merida and Moana were able to display androgynous qualities while having minimal feminine characteristics. What are the development of the gender role portrayals of the Disney princesses in the animated Disney princess films is the last statement of the problem. This question was followed by a follow-up question if the Disney princesses display gender roles stereotypically or androgynously. The researchers observed that there is a development in the gender role portrayal of Disney princesses. Compared to the previous classical princesses, the modern princesses were more active and even taking on the role of heroine of the story.
In a nutshell, the research on The Study of the Development of Androgynous Gender Role Portrayals from Stereotypical of Disney Princesses in the Original Disney Princess Films Franchise presented distinct characteristics and qualities of the Disney Princess in their films and the evolution of the gender roles of the princesses.
This study is limited to the original Disney princesses film franchise. With this, the pair recommend that the interested researchers could consider studying Disney series and sequels for a distinct research. Future researchers could also study the effects of the gender role portrayal on the viewers of these films. It is evident that currently there are many animated Disney princess films turning into live-action ones. An interesting study that could be conducted can focus on the difference between the animated film and its live-action version.
The researchers were unable to acquire Philippine-based articles as the majority of their utilized articles are from the West. Given this problem, the future researchers may consider looking for updated local journals and articles to make their studies. In the future, the group believed that there will be new Disney princesses that could be added to the study. Furthermore, since this study only focused on the gender role portrayal of the female protagonists of the story, the pair recommend that future researchers could consider other forms of representations such as race and age.