Disney has announced today that it will give 21 young women the opportunity to create digital shorts, where they will tell the story of inspiring female role models. Each young woman will be paired with an “inspirational interview subject spanning a diverse range of professions”. They will also be tasked with capturing the stories of these incredible individuals and get advice for how they achieve success. This is the latest expansion of their “Dream Big Princess” program. The goal is to empower young women from around the world in their filmmaking aspirations. This expansion also includes a partnership with Apple.
Jennifer Lee, COO of Walt Disney Animation Studios, as well as writer and director for Frozen, had this to say:
“Using the journeys of characters like Anna, Elsa and Moana to inspire kids to dream big is at the very heart of what all of us at Disney do. The #DreamBigPrincess series is the perfect extension of that vision, providing a powerful platform for the next generation of aspiring filmmakers to create content about the women who have inspired them.”
Each filmmaker will be required to shoot their video with an iPhone X, and then edit it using Final Cut Pro X on a MacBook Pro. In addition to that, the filmmakers will participate in a “unique workshop” that includes hands-on training from Apple technical experts. While I definitely like the idea of this, I wonder if this is the way to do it? More simply put, are characters like Anna, Elsa, and Moana diverse enough? Of course, they are all female, and they are unique, but when it comes to diversity, is this what we should be targeting?
If you’ve read any of my work, you will know that I’m more about promoting and fostering inclusion. That doesn’t mean that diversity isn’t important, but I don’t feel that people understand how the two should work together. And this particular program is no different. Shouldn’t young women be given the opportunity to make a film, based on any character that they feel they connect with? I understand that this is a Disney initiative, but haven’t we moved away from the idea of a Disney Princess?
Sure, these characters aren’t your traditional Disney Princess, but the fact remains, that’s how this program is being presented. Yes, it’s intended to empower young women, but I think it’s missing the mark. Don’t get me wrong – the whole idea of Disney is a fantasy – and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The parks themselves are supposed to be the happiest place on Earth, and I kind of think they are. But when it comes to presenting the world with the idea of a woman, I’m not sure that Snow White is cutting it anymore.
You’re probably saying – Snow White isn’t involved in this, but we haven’t gotten to a place where Disney Princesses truly reflect strong, independent women. Maybe I’ve gone off the feminism deep end, but I just think that if you’re trying to inspire or empower young women, you shouldn’t be doing it with Disney Princesses. I do like this idea, in general, but I think the theme needs some work. I love the fact that these young women will get to use technology in order to be able to shoot and edit the films, but perhaps the subjects should be expanded upon a bit more?