« Who'Dat?™: Wedded Bliss Edition | Home | I'm a little smug today+ »

October 5, 2004


Insidious "Entertainment"

What's a multinational media and retail empire to do when suddenly, nobody wants to come to your stores?

If you're Disney, you take a look around at where your money is coming from - and at the successful retail operations of companies such as, say, American Girl dolls. Then you sell off the majority of your retail stores and shift control of your New York flagship store to your company's theme park division.

That is the legend of Disney's Princess Court in the World of Disney store, which opened last night. For only $75, little princesses from Montauk and their doting parents can put on white lace gloves to learn the four Princess Principles: intelligence, grace, thoughtfulness and honesty.

This is fascinating on many levels. The most obvious is gender. The New York Times quotes Camille Paglia as saying the store “is a reaction to the hypersexualized environment where young women are expected to dress like strippers or whores. That should not be the standard for a 10-year-old girl."

Well, sure, but what standards do 10-year-old girls learn from wearing tiaras and spending all their money on jewelry? Take, for example, the stepmother of 6-year-old Princess-in-training Katarina, who has her Halloween costume planned: "I already have a crown at home and a dress," said Dona, 31, with a giggle. "I'm going to be Cinderella."

But the more important and devious issue is that like any major media company, Disney doesn't actually give a crap about the self-image of little girls. They're just interested in the bottom line. Little girls like to dress up, and if princess training (taught in the context of Disney movies available for sale at the store, such as “princesses shouldn't lie like Aladdin did to Jasmine") will get them in the door to spend $26 on a tiara, and $6 - $8 on additional jewelry, then Disney's all for princess training. And even better if mothers like Dona can be convinced to buy a cashmere sweater for $340 or even book a Disneyworld vacation while their daughters are busy learning the Princess Principles.

Is it entertainment? Is it retail? Once the money starts pouring in, does it really matter?

categories: Business, Gender
posted by Emily at 10:53 AM | #

Trackback Pings

TrackBack URL for this entry: