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Opinion

‘Beauty and the Beast’ emphasizes shift away from stereotypes in Disney films

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March 28, 2017

“Beauty and the Beast,” the Disney animated film, was released in 1991 and earned a Best Picture nomination at the Academy Awards. This classic was released this month as a live-action remake.

As a big fan of Belle and the Beast, I went to the movie theater to see the new film. It made me think of my first impression of this tale when I was a little girl. I saw a totally different Disney princess style, a different way of describing young women, in the animated “Beauty and the Beast.” That made a deep impression in my childhood.

The one way I think that Belle is different from other Disney princesses is that she finally becomes a person who saves and chooses her lover instead being saved and chosen, like we see in “Snow White,” “Cinderella” and “Sleeping Beauty.”

As a classic female in Disney, Belle is kind and fearless, but she also has other important personality traits such as wisdom and the bravery to resist. She is also the first female Disney character who expresses her passion for knowledge, not just smiling, singing and talking with cute animals.

This is why I have always been a fan of Belle. She was a new image of women in Disney animated movies. This time, Disney chose Emma Watson, a famous feminist around the world, to act as Belle in the live-action remake. This might be a signal that they will continue to create new styles of Disney princesses in the future.

In recent years, Disney has made some transitions in its animated films. The main male characters no longer are rich princes or defiantly smart guys; sometimes they are even cowards or bad guys. For instance, the male character in “Tangled” is a thief.

On the other hand, female characters in Disney films like “Moana” are not being emphasized by their amazing, beautiful appearances. Instead, they’re shown as stronger in the mind with a passion for adventure.

I feel good about these transitions, because our children will become the target audience for these Disney animated films. They can break through stereotypes that have existed for a long time in our society and build their own images of females and males. I believe that will be helpful to promote gender equality in our new generation.