I’m always on the lookout for films with positive messages for my children. Films that promote inner confidence and treating others well. Films that inspire and raise up.
Red Shoes and the 7 Dwarfs is not one of those.
The studio behind this film have faced a backlash over the media they have chosen to release to promote it. Unsurprisingly given that the billboard describes Snow White as “no longer beautiful” and then demonstrates this apparent lack of beauty by making her shorter and fatter. Because of course only tall thin women can be beautiful right?
This Chloe Moretz cartoon also seems, uh, questionable pic.twitter.com/93ieRc9JnQ
— Kyle Buchanan (@kylebuchanan) May 25, 2017
Their response was to reassure by saying, “Our film, a family comedy, carries a message designed to challenge social prejudices related to standards of physical beauty in society by emphasizing the importance of inner beauty. We appreciate and are grateful for the constructive criticism of those who brought this to our attention.”
Oh right, well that puts a totally different spin on it right? Especially as they go on to say, “We sincerely regret any embarrassment or dissatisfaction this mistaken advertising has caused to any of the individual artists or companies involved with the production or future distribution of our film, none of whom had any involvement with creating or approving the now discontinued advertising campaign”.
So is it just an advertising agency who misjudged their brief?
Maybe. But then, maybe not. The blurb on the website starts out echoing the statement about societal pressures to fit a narrow definition of beauty.
“A normal girl born into extraordinary circumstances, she’s a Princess who doesn’t fit into the celebrity world of Princesses – or their dress size. She wants to stay true to herself but Fairy Tale Island is all about looks.”
No argument there, we need to show children – and adults – that there is more to life than beauty standards and draw attention to how reliant society is on them.
But then I feel it falls down, “And to let the beauty within – the beauty that Prince Merlin falls in love with – shine brighter than anyone else in the land.” Here we have the classic Princess story, she finds her worth because a man falls in love with her. This is not a message I want my daughter to take on board. I also don’t want her to “shine brighter than anyone else”, as the saying goes, “Blowing Out Someone Else’s Candle Won’t Make Yours Shine Brighter.“
This doesn’t inspire me with much hope, as far as I can tell it’s reinforcing the very messages it’s hoping to challenge.
And then there’s the trailer.
Oh the trailer.
It opens with two of the dwarf/princes hiding under a table in the Princess’s room, watching while she slowly and seductively pulls down the zipper on the back of her dress.
Just to remind you, this is apparently a family film. And as an aside I do not know any woman who – whilst in the privacy of her own home – undoes a zip like that.
So not only do we have the equation of beauty with slimness, the validation of beauty being dependant on men’s approval, and the idea that women must compete. We also have women being watched undress without their consent as entertainment.
I’m not sure they can blame an advertising company for this one.
In case you are wondering why the Princes are even hiding in her room, it’s because they are competing with other princes to win a kiss from “the most beautiful princess in the world”.
She is reduced to a trophy to be won.
Oh and those Princes? The handsomest princes in the whole world? Seems they are quite happy to do away with a narrow definition of handsome when it comes to the male characters. When they say Fairyland is all about looks, they mean for women.
I won’t be taking my children to this, they deserve better.
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