Commander_PonyShep

"Princess" in the context of MLP vs. "Princess" when referenced elsewhere

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Long ago, I used to watch the first two Tropes vs. Women in Video Games episodes, each focusing on the Damsel in Distress and its usage in video games.

 

For those who never got around seeing the episodes, click here:

 

Damsel in Distress Part 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X6p5AZp7r_Q

 

Damsel in Distress Part 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=toa_vH6xGqs

 

I also used to watch an episode of the Nostalgia Critic about why the princess hate, which you can view here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jAXEQswcv44

 

Every time I watch those videos, it's always taking me back to Princess Twilicorn, and what it means to be a princess in the context of MLP: FiM.  In the general pop-culture, "princess" is often used interchangeably with "damsel in distress", just because both words denote beauty, innocence, and softness in women.  Often in pop-culture, even in the more "mature" content like your average M-rated game or R-rated film, women are portrayed as helpless, submissive victims who depend on their men to save them, rather than break out of captivity on their own.

 

Not so much in MLP.  In the show, the Mane Six are almost always portrayed as independent, capable of getting their own jobs and fulfilling their respective hopes and dreams, whether on their own or with each other, but not so much with a male figure (hell, in Equestria Girls, she's the one who rescues Flash Sentry from Sunset Shimmer's mind control, rather than the other way around!).  It was also the reason why Twilight became an alicorn princess; she was trained from the beginning by Princess Celestia to become a strong, responsible leader for Equestria, like Celestia before her.  Once Twilight became alicorn princess, she was then expected to take all of the friendship lesson she learned from her friends throughout the past three seasons, and apply them to leading Equestria to a brand new age of friendship, one that could rival even Celestia's vision for Equestria.

 

Technically, where most other franchises think of "princess" as "damsel in distress", in MLP's case, "princess" actually means "responsible leader", like a queen if you take away her stereotyped malevolence.  Now, if only Hasbro allowed the writers to use "queen" instead of "princess"...

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"Princess" was apparently used in substitute of "Queen" because Queen had a more evil context to it or something.

 

Anyways, Princesses basically have from what we've seen the job of ruling over the land they're in charge of. They're basically like Queens really.

 

They're certainly not the damsel in distress type we see in alot of other places, Celestia doesn't typically need rescuing, except in the S2 finale, otherwise and even then, shes very powerful and seems capable of handling herself most of the time.

 

So the context's between MLP and elsewhere's Princess are certainly different.

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(edited)

If you gave Equestria Girls for that woman to watch, she would probably criticize with something along the lines of "Oh... Twilight is just doing the "male role". It's like she is being a female and being strong". Unless she likes it as a whole. Then she will praise the producers for fighting the patriarchy.

 

But you are right. Being a Princess in Equestria is a whole world of difference from being a princess in our world. If you ask me, this is because MLP:FIM didn't treat the subject as something to be dished out in way that says: "Look. This is cute. Like it." The show was made in way that makes people like it because it takes itself seriously, ans says: "You see this big white pony? The one with the wings and the horn? The crown? It rules this joint." Then we see that she does so because she is intelligent, benevolent, responsible. "This" is what Equestria rewards, not simply looking pretty in a dress being useless.

 

Unfortunately, Hasbro doesn't care what we think. Anyway, cool post.

 

EDIT: I should have used Cadance as an example, after the "The Crystal Empire" and then, how she is shown as a ruler in the Crystal Empire. Twilight still has to prove herself to the audience as a princess. And Luna is just as important as Celestia.

Edited by moonlightavenger

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Here is another example of princesses being strong and independent: The climax of "A Canterlot Wedding Part 2".  Yes, Cadence is rescued by Twilight, but at the very least she was rescued by another independent woman, rather than some generic, handsome male.  However, by the time both Celestia and the Mane Six fail to stop Queen Chrysalis and her army of changelings, eventually it would be Cadence who rescues Shining Armor from Chrysalis' control, rather than the other way around like in your average male-dominated power-fantasy.  Technically, she uses her love magic to exorcise Chrysalis' spell off of Shining Armor, then use that same love magic to restore Shining's magic so that he could restore the barrier the changelings destroyed.

 

Cadence and Shining Armor will almost always ostensibly resemble a damsel and her male knight in shining armor.  However, when you look at Princess Cadence and the way she runs the Crystal Empire, she is a strong-willed, independent female capable of protecting her own kingdom, just like Shining Armor.  Even while low on magic to summon a barrier against King Sombra, she eventually redeems herself by being tossed like a javelin by Shining, so that she could eventually recover Spike and the Crystal Heart, and use the latter alongside her subjects' love to destroy the malevolent smoke-monster king.

 

And again, it would be that strength and independence that turns Twilight into a princess, which in the context of MLP: FiM is almost the opposite of how us real-life human beings denote "princess" as "damsel in distress".

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I think that Disney portrays princesses as females who are always in distress, and are unhappy with how their life is. My Little Pony shows that princesses are not only strong individuals but they are able to make smart decisions as strong leaders.

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If you gave Equestria Girls for that woman to watch, she would probably criticize with something along the lines of "Oh... Twilight is just doing the "male role". It's like she is being a female and being strong".

 

I don't think she would, because Twilight isn't doing the "male role."  In our culture, there is a certain prevailing concept of "masculinity" that is often used to define a "strong" character.  This character has almost no emotional capacity except for rage and desire for revenge/"justice" when he is wronged, does not show affection or like kittens or colorful ponies, etc. and nearly always solves the problem of the story with physical violence.  Your basic Rambo/Chuck Norris/Dirty Harry/Charles Bronson/Stephen Segal/Aaaahnold character type.  This is the "efficacious" character, the person who "gets things done" when the cops and lawyers and political leaders and other institutions of civilization prove useless.1  Evil is afoot, "and only one man" can do anything about it. 

 

Making such a character woman-shaped (ohai, Ripley!) does not represent empowered womanhood because it reinforces the notion that the set of "masculine" character traits are synonymous with efficacy, strength, and the ability to be the protagonist of a story rather than the prize to be won.  The beauty of MLP: FiM is that it can take a character like Rarity and make her smart, strong, capable, entrepreneurial, self-sufficient, and able to handle herself in a dangerous situation. 

 

The exaltation of the Rambo model of "masculinity" doesn't only harm women.  It also puts men in an unrealistic psychological straightjacket that they're supposed to live up to when, as human beings with the full gamut of emotional responses and needs, they can't.  IMO it's the reason for the lion's share of (male) brony-hatred: by being fans of MLP, we don't "do the male role" thus defined.  By living outside of that role, we inevitably call its validity into question.

 

NOTE:

 

1. So this concept of "masculinity" isn't just an attack on women, it's an attack on civilization as well.

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I don't think she would, because Twilight isn't doing the "male role."  In our culture, there is a certain prevailing concept of "masculinity" that is often used to define a "strong" character.  This character has almost no emotional capacity except for rage and desire for revenge/"justice" when he is wronged, does not show affection or like kittens or colorful ponies, etc. and nearly always solves the problem of the story with physical violence.  Your basic Rambo/Chuck Norris/Dirty Harry/Charles Bronson/Stephen Segal/Aaaahnold character type.  This is the "efficacious" character, the person who "gets things done" when the cops and lawyers and political leaders and other institutions of civilization prove useless.1  Evil is afoot, "and only one man" can do anything about it. 

 

Making such a character woman-shaped (ohai, Ripley!) does not represent empowered womanhood because it reinforces the notion that the set of "masculine" character traits are synonymous with efficacy, strength, and the ability to be the protagonist of a story rather than the prize to be won.  The beauty of MLP: FiM is that it can take a character like Rarity and make her smart, strong, capable, entrepreneurial, self-sufficient, and able to handle herself in a dangerous situation. 

 

The exaltation of the Rambo model of "masculinity" doesn't only harm women.  It also puts men in an unrealistic psychological straightjacket that they're supposed to live up to when, as human beings with the full gamut of emotional responses and needs, they can't.  IMO it's the reason for the lion's share of (male) brony-hatred: by being fans of MLP, we don't "do the male role" thus defined.  By living outside of that role, we inevitably call its validity into question.

 

NOTE:

 

1. So this concept of "masculinity" isn't just an attack on women, it's an attack on civilization as well.

I meant what that particular woman will say. Not what Twilight is.

Your point of view on the subject is perfectly the same as mine. Though I doubt I could explain it so well.happy.png

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I don't think she would, because Twilight isn't doing the "male role."  In our culture, there is a certain prevailing concept of "masculinity" that is often used to define a "strong" character.  This character has almost no emotional capacity except for rage and desire for revenge/"justice" when he is wronged, does not show affection or like kittens or colorful ponies, etc. and nearly always solves the problem of the story with physical violence.  Your basic Rambo/Chuck Norris/Dirty Harry/Charles Bronson/Stephen Segal/Aaaahnold character type.  This is the "efficacious" character, the person who "gets things done" when the cops and lawyers and political leaders and other institutions of civilization prove useless.1  Evil is afoot, "and only one man" can do anything about it. 

 

Making such a character woman-shaped (ohai, Ripley!) does not represent empowered womanhood because it reinforces the notion that the set of "masculine" character traits are synonymous with efficacy, strength, and the ability to be the protagonist of a story rather than the prize to be won.  The beauty of MLP: FiM is that it can take a character like Rarity and make her smart, strong, capable, entrepreneurial, self-sufficient, and able to handle herself in a dangerous situation. 

 

The exaltation of the Rambo model of "masculinity" doesn't only harm women.  It also puts men in an unrealistic psychological straightjacket that they're supposed to live up to when, as human beings with the full gamut of emotional responses and needs, they can't.  IMO it's the reason for the lion's share of (male) brony-hatred: by being fans of MLP, we don't "do the male role" thus defined.  By living outside of that role, we inevitably call its validity into question.

 

NOTE:

 

1. So this concept of "masculinity" isn't just an attack on women, it's an attack on civilization as well.

I'm glad you agree with me.

 

It's also why I've always wanted to compare Princess Twilicorn with Optimus Prime, rather than the Disney princesses like I'm always expected to do.  Like Twilight even before she became an alicorn princess, Optimus is a leader with a good heart, not just toward humans but also his Autobot troops.  Where Megatron would kill and abuse his own Decepticon troops to attain greater power, Optimus would instead sacrifice himself to unite his Autobot army towards protecting humanity from said Decepticons.  Hell, Optimus would even spare Megatron's life even if he were to gain the chance to kill him, because he fears the idea of becoming no better than Megatron if he were to kill him.

 

If anything, I'd say that Optimus is one of the girliest male figures in pop-culture, rivaled only by Superman and your average male Final Fantasy protagonist.  Which is one of the reasons why I'd compare Princess Twilight Sparkle with Optimus Prime.

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If anything, I'd say that Optimus is one of the girliest male figures in pop-culture, rivaled only by Superman and your average male Final Fantasy protagonist. Which is one of the reasons why I'd compare Princess Twilight Sparkle with Optimus Prime.

 

 

Bhahahahahahaha!  "Ooooh, Optimus, daaahling, I just love your bright and cheerful color ensemble!  And Superman, I don't care what that little troll that works for the Incredibles says, your cape is the defining accessory in superhero fashion!"

 

But yeah.  I'm not as sure about Optimus, but it looks like you're right about Superman.

 

This one is my favorite:

 

allstarcomics.jpg

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The word Prince actually means "first" or less literally "boss". Historically, and originally, it more often to "a sovereign otherwise unspecified" rather than to the son (or daughter in the case of princess) of a king/emperor etc...

 

The book of Machiavelli "The prince" refers to any ruler from the ottoman emperor to the prince of monaco.

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The modern Disney-fried pop-culture definition of princess has absolutely nothing to do with the real-life definition of princess, or how MLP:FiM uses the term. MLP:FiM appears to be using a much older definition consistent with actual real-life usage as a title of peerage. I go into more detail here: http://mlpforums.com/blog/844/entry-4983-equestria-and-the-crystal-empire-always-a-princess-never-a-queen/

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