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Monday, January 14 2013 00:00

In Defense of the Princess. In Defense of the King. I am the Anti-Anti-Princess...

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As countless conflicts continue to rage around the Globe, there's always a few that seem to get swept under the mental rug and forgotten about. We often think of the mess in the Middle East, with those "name-brand" clashes like the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, the War in Afghanistan, etc., but often forget about those other places like Burma and the Congo until a new RAMBO movie comes out to remind us (thanks, Sly!). As blood continues to be shed elsewhere, here in the 'States rages a war that has been spoken about in the media for years, debated in blogs, and has recently flared up once more... those against "The Princess Industrial Complex" Vs. pretty much everyone else.

No matter what catchy name you choose to give it, (Princess Syndrome, Princess Phase, etc.), the "Anti-Princess" movement is a big thing right now, and while it's been going on for years and spawned numerous successful books, essays, and reports, the current crop of torch-bearing, pitchfork-wielding, Princess-hating webjockeys have just about as much credibility as the Westboro Baptist Church Picketing Crew marching on a funeral.  

I've briefly touched on my feelings toward the "Princess Phase" in the past, both here on The Rock Father and elsewhere. Actually, allow me to quote myself here:

"Parents (or caregivers) tend to be the source of social stereotypes and limitations. As noted before, my wife and I made plans to steer our girls away from the so-called "Pink Princess" phase, but somehow our oldest has discovered it, and if it makes her happy, so be it. I call her the "Rock and Roll Princess" or "Punk Rock Princess" since she dresses herself and will often combine "looks" that come off as pretty "punk rock" for a three year old. If she wants to mix-and-match an Ariel crown with Rapunzel gloves, Cinderella jewelry, an Abby Cadabby wand, and some non-Princess clothes... let that imagination flow and grow! Sure, there's plenty of parents that would like to see the "Pink Princess" thing go away completely, but really - what's wrong with it? There's no reason why kids can't enjoy everything that makes them smile."James Zahn, December 11, 2012


I'd initally planned for this entry to be posted this past Friday to coincide with an Anti-Princess onslaught that I knew was coming due to the launch of SOFIA THE FIRST on Disney Junior, but some technical issues (Internet outage in my neighborhood + network downtime at my webhost) pushed it back - and I'm glad it did. Now I can properly react.

There is nothing wrong with little girls enjoying Princess Culture.

Addie as BelleThroughout the weekend, I've read numerous comments from around the social web regarding the Princess situation, all fueled by the fact that there's a new Princess on the block.

Parents are the problem.

You can't shield your children from everything... especially an element of popular culture that is so prevalent. Why did my wife and I have the initial thoughts of steering our daughters away from the Princess stuff? Because we didn't want them to think that they were obligated to like Princesses... that they were supposed to like Princesses... or that it was a requirement of being a little girl. 

I've heard all kinds of Anti-Princess reasoning from feminist talk about self-image and power, to fathers that think the Princess phase will lead to an attitude of entitlement and snobbery. It's all just pure bullshit being spewed by parents that are no fun at all, or from people that don't even have children.

By the same logic that many of the arguing parties hold, what children play with will ultimately help decide their future. If that is the norm, then I'm truly saddened that I didn't grow up to be a member of "America's daring, highly trained special mission force" (G.I. JOE), pilot an X-Wing starfighter (STAR WARS), lead an attack against Snake Mountain (MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE), assist the Autobots in their quest for Energon (TRANSFORMERS), or fight crime while driving a talking 1982 Trans-Am (KNIGHT RIDER). Oh yeah, that's because all of those are "fantasy" situations that children like to explore. Just like being a Princess (except for those born into Royalty in certain Countries... for American women that marry into a Royal Family). 

The Disney Princess line gets most of the flack, if only because the folks at Disney were great at finding a niche and tapping into it. They didn't create it (after all, tales of Princesses have been around for thousands of years), but they do a great job of marketing it. 

Despite the "messages" that some claim are conveyed through the Disney movies (I dig those movies), think about this: How many kids that grew up immersed in Scooby-Doo now have a career solving mysteries alongside a talking dog? It's called entertainment.

sofiadvdSOFIA THE FIRST...

We were first exposed to Sofia the First through the pilot presentation, SOFIA THE FIRST: ONCE UPON A PRINCESS when we set the DVR to record it last month. A surprisingly cute new tale, the story follows a 7-year-old girl who becomes a Princess after her Mother marries the king of their fictional land. The little Princesses and Princes of all the neighboring Kingdoms attend a school called Royal Prep, which reminds me a bit of Hogwarts from another fantasy tale, that of HARRY POTTER. Sofia is learning, and each episode teaches a real lesson. The series had it's official premiere this past Friday, and the first episode carried a message that girls can do anything that boys can... in this case, jockeying race horses. A quick glance at a few online comments, and I see people asking "but where's the message that boys can do the same thing girls can?" Look somewhere else. This is a show about a little girl.

We have SOFIA THE FIRST set to "series record" on our DVR as it's already a massive hit here at Rock Father HQ. If it makes my little girl happy and provides some educational merit?  That's a win on both fronts.

While some spent their weekend bitching on message boards about how their Anti-Princess parenting makes them fantastic human beings, I bucked the trend and took my girls to the Disney Store (their Twice Upon a Year Sale is happening now). Sure, my smallest is only 7-months-old, but my Addie was overjoyed to be there. I was planning to swag her up with some new Sofia the First garb, but unfortunately it hadn't all arrived in-store yet (there's a bunch online). I ended up buying Addie a cute little Sofia Nightshirt, while her Auntie Jill bought her a Sofia Hardcover Book and CD. With the cool deals happening at the store, we grabbed some t-shirts, and I ended up purchasing a trio of dolls - Ursula and King Triton from THE LITTLE MERMAID - and The Fairy Godmother from CINDERELLA - at a crazy deal... $5.24 each ($14.50 marked down to $6.99 + an additional 25% off).
WP 20130113 024
WP 20130112 023Do I spoil my girls? Sure do.

We also ran into Winnie The Pooh, a character whom I'm sure some will argue influences children to grow up developing a horrible addiction to honey.

I guess you could say that I'm now Anti-Anti-Princess. I hate the Anti-Princess movement (and some of those involved in it), and as long as I have a Princess in the house (maybe the newest addition won't like Princess life, but I doubt it) that makes me The King.

"I'm the king of rock, there is none higher
Sucker MC's should call me sire
To burn my kingdom, you must use fire
I won't stop rockin' till I retire"
RUN-DMC, 1985

 

The moral of this story? Let kids be kids and like what they like

James Zahn

About James: A work-from-home Dad with a pair of daughters (Released in 2009 and 2012) - James Zahn is THE ROCK FATHER™. 

Bringing over two decades of experience in the entertainment industry into the family realm, Zahn is an Illinois-based Entertainment Writer, Media Personality, Commentator, Adventurer and Raconteur. 

He is a member of The Toy Insider Parent Advisory Board, a writer for the Netflix #StreamTeam, and serves as a Brand Ambassador and spokesperson for several Globally-recognized pop culture and lifestyle brands in addition to consulting for a number of toy manufacturers.

Creatively, James has directed/edited music videos, lyric videos, and album trailers for bands such as FEAR FACTORY, has appeared as an actor in feature films and commercials, written comic books, and performed in bands. He currently serves as an artist manager and video director for Napalm Records' PRODUCT OF HATE.

James and/or his work have been featured in/on CNN, NBC, G4, The Chicago Tribune, Blogcritics, Fangoria, Starlog, The River Cities' Reader. Slowfish, Oil, and more. He's appeared as a music expert on CNN's AC360, has been quoted in BusinessWire, CNN and Babble, in addition to making appearances on ABC News, WGN and more. In the past he served as a writer for  Fandango Family and PBS KIDS, penned articles for Sprout, and was a contributor to Chicago Parent.

Learn more here

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