No Tiara, No Problem: 'Rejected Princesses' Have Stories Worth Telling
Many of us have come to know the tales of Disney's princesses by heart. But put Snow White, Cinderella, Belle and Ariel aside for a moment and consider these characters: A transgender Native American, a tank commander and a Mexican revolutionary.
Theirs are not the kind of stories you find in a Disney princess flick, but they're in the spotlight on the blog Rejected Princesses. Each week, former DreamWorks animator Jason Porath adds a new illustration and write-up about a woman who is, as the blog says, "too awesome, awful or offbeat for kids' movies."
"I take women, sort of unsung heroines — usually from history, but a lot from mythology and some from literature — who wouldn't necessarily make the cut for mainstream animated princess movies, and give them that style," Porath tells NPR's Arun Rath. "It's sort of an alternate-reality glimpse into, 'What if they got their moment in the sun?' "
One of his favorite examples is the aforementioned Soviet tank commander, Sergeant Mariya Oktyabrskaya. Porath says Oktyabrskaya's husband was killed by the Nazis, so she sold all of her belongings in order to buy a tank and fight. She named the tank "Fighting Girlfriend." The illustration shows her sitting atop her tank, anthropomorphized in Cars-like fashion, amid a battle.
"It's this weird, incongruous mash-up of history as well as these mainstream animated movies," he says.
But Porath's also includes some non-heroic Rejected Princesses, like Elisabeth Bathory, who he says is possibly the most prolific female serial killer in history. He says he didn't want to only include one type of female character.
"I didn't want it to just be everybody is shiny, happy, kick-butt heroines," he says. "There are people who are heroes, there are people who are villains and there are people who are just weird."
The project started as a bit of a lark, Porath says, and was born out of a lunch conversation he had while working at DreamWorks about unlikely stories to be given the animated princess treatment. The blog and the premise quickly took off, he says.
But Porath says Rejected Princesses isn't meant to bash Disney and the work they do on their mainstream animated princess stories.
"That said, I feel like there is room for people that don't get the spotlight put on them," Porath says. "Maybe they won't make $100 million ... but there should be a place for that."
Porath says there is no shortage of women to feature on the blog, and he still has a list of about 600 ready to go.
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