New Study Reveals The Disturbing Facts Behind Disney Princess Dialogue

Ben Arnold
UK Movies Writer

A new study has discovered that Disney Princesses have significantly less dialogue than their male counterparts in movies.

In some cases, it was found that male characters have had over three times the amount of lines in movies purporting to be focussed on female characters.

The numbers have been crunched by data linguists Carmen Fought and Karen Eisenhauer, who have analysed the dialogue in all the Disney Princess-based movies since 1989.

It was then discovered that in ‘The Little Mermaid’, male characters speak 68 per cent of the time, and in 'Beauty and the Beast’, it was 71 per cent.

Worse still, in 'Pocahontas’ is was 76 per cent, and in 'Mulan’, 77 per cent.

Fought, a professor of linguistics at Pitzer College in California, told the Washington Post: “There’s one isolated princess trying to get someone to marry her, but there are no women doing any other things.

“There are no women leading the townspeople to go against the Beast, no women bonding in the tavern together singing drinking songs, women giving each other directions, or women inventing things.

“Everybody who’s doing anything else, other than finding a husband in the movie, pretty much, is a male.”

Indeed, every movie featuring a Disney Princess has featured a predominantly male cast since 'Snow White’ in 1937, with almost every supporting character also being male.

Why this is happening is open for debate, but Eisenhaur, a graduate from North Carolina State University, puts it down to 'carelessness’.

“Because we’re so trained to think that male is the norm. So when you want to add a shopkeeper, that shopkeeper is a man. Or you add a guard, that guard is a man. I think that’s just really ingrained in our culture,” she said.

Fought thinks that such carelessness could have wider-reaching effects, however.

“We don’t believe that little girls naturally play a certain way or speak a certain way. They’re not born liking a pink dress.

“At some point we teach them. So a big question is where girls get their ideas about being girls.

“The Renaissance-era movies starting with 'The Little Mermaid’ and 'Beauty and the Beast’ were talked about as being not your average frilly princess films.

“They have active women who get things done. That’s fine, but are these movies really so great for little girls to watch? When you start to look at this stuff, you have to question that a little bit.”

Recent movies have improved the averages, however.

'Tangled’ saw female characters having 52 per cent of the lines, while 'Brave’ sports an impressive 74 per cent.

However, despite its two female leads, 'Frozen’ let the side down somewhat, with males taking 59 per cent of the dialogue.

Read more
Which Disney Princess is the richest?
Proof that Disney’s female characters all have the same face

Image credits: Disney