Document Type

Article

Publication Date

11-1-2017

Abstract

Many of the gender norms popular in human-centric Disney films are also perpetuated in those starring nonhuman princesses. These nonhuman princess films perpetuate Disney’s painfully heteronormative and white bias, although perhaps less obviously. They remain side characters to inspire male counterparts, to be rescued, and to be won—and again, marriage is presented as the epitome of a happy ending. Although these characters are deer, foxes, cats, lions, and frogs, they are also overwhelmingly coded as white. Whiteness structures characters’ speech, behaviors, and values. In fact, most of the voice actors are also white. For instance, The Lion King’s Nala is an African character, but a white woman of Irish descent voices adult Nala. Nonhuman Animals provide the possibility to transgress anthropocentric categories of race, class, gender, and sexuality. That is, nonhumans do not have a “race,” for example. Therefore, Disney’s tendency to perpetuate dominant ideologies through nonhuman characters cues the audience to identify these ideologies as natural. This cultural conflation of socially constructed categories with biologically constructed categories is a powerful means of upholding inequality.