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Same Face Syndrome
March 25, 2014 2:13 PM   Subscribe

"I seriously believed that someone with too much time on their hands had photomanipulated some screenshots of Rapunzel and tried to pass them off as the official Frozen designs. After all, there was no way that a major animation studio like Disney would knowingly, willfully produce three princesses with the Exact Same Face." -- Why do the Frozen heroines Anna and Elsa have the same face, a face they share with Rapunzel?
posted by MartinWisse (119 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite

 
To be fair, I'm sure they think we look all alike too.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 2:17 PM on March 25 [18 favorites]


Or is it because they're all from the same area and era?
posted by msbutah at 2:21 PM on March 25 [3 favorites]


Inbreeding.
posted by klangklangston at 2:21 PM on March 25 [3 favorites]


How about so they can all be cast using the same set of dies?
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 2:22 PM on March 25 [7 favorites]


Or, more accurately (since I've actually read the article), a combination of laziness and sexism, honestly. It's a shame, but it's something that comic book fans are pretty used to (Greg Land Porn Face is an open band name).
posted by klangklangston at 2:25 PM on March 25 [5 favorites]


Maybe they're just drawn by the same person?
I'm thinking this person hasn't watched many Disney movies....
posted by Big_B at 2:26 PM on March 25 [2 favorites]


And why must all your animated women always have two eyes, to be considered beautiful, huh, Disney?
posted by littlejohnnyjewel at 2:26 PM on March 25 [11 favorites]


If that's surprising, then this will be mind blowing!

In the spirit of hating upworthy-style asshole linkbaiting, the link is to youtube showing Disney reusing actual animation across multiple films, not just faces.
posted by anonymisc at 2:27 PM on March 25 [21 favorites]


Oh wait, Elsa and Anna are sisters! What do I win?
posted by Big_B at 2:27 PM on March 25 [11 favorites]


I feel like at a certain point The Way CG Cartoon People Should Look was established and we've been stuck with it ever since. I haven't seen Tangled, but when I first saw the character posters for Frozen I thought, "Yep. That's a CG cartoon person."
posted by brundlefly at 2:28 PM on March 25 [5 favorites]


Does anyone even bother to read the articles any more?
posted by Think_Long at 2:28 PM on March 25 [80 favorites]


Hayao Miyazaki, one of the greatest animators who's ever lived, is responsible for a dozen critically acclaimed feature films and aside from Ponyo (his most visually "different" work, style-wise), the only ones that don't use the exact same two faces for the hero and heroine do so because the hero/ine is either a pre-existing licensed character, four years old, or an anthropomorphic pig.

Some people just have a style.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 2:30 PM on March 25 [12 favorites]


I've managed to not see Frozen yet, and I actually thought Elsa and Anna were the same character, like, pre- and post- defeat of the evil ice queen.

No, I don't really know the plot of the film either
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 2:30 PM on March 25 [4 favorites]


Well - I did read the article. I have a few friends who work at Disney animation, and this person's notion of how character design works at an animation studio is ... naive.
posted by incessant at 2:30 PM on March 25 [9 favorites]


I did come out of Frozen wishing the animators had not only done more to distinguish the sisters from each other, but to make Elsa more evocative of Menzel. Why even hire someone with a voice as powerful and distinctive as Menzel's if you're going to hide it behind the visual of Generic CGI Disney Princess #2?
posted by lesli212 at 2:31 PM on March 25 [16 favorites]


The Hero with a Thousand Faces.
The Heroine with, like, three.
posted by Atom Eyes at 2:32 PM on March 25 [48 favorites]


Oh wait, Elsa and Anna are sisters! What do I win?

Another chance to actually read the post, and/or take a look at actually existing sisters in the real world and be amazed at how many don't have the same face.
posted by MartinWisse at 2:32 PM on March 25 [14 favorites]


I am kind of bummed to see the early Frozen artwork, the ones in the Mary Blair style. A whole movie in that style would be stunning (though probably a little overwhelming).
posted by troika at 2:33 PM on March 25 [12 favorites]


I'm another person that thought they were actually the same character. Like something happens in the middle of the movie and her hair changes color.
posted by stoneweaver at 2:34 PM on March 25


As for Elsa and Anna looking alike: just watched this movie Sunday, so it's fresh in my mind. I didn't think they looked alike at all (eye spacing, hair color, etc), but I did get the two main dudes confused. I wish the story had drawn a clearer line from the child at the beginning to the adult version of him (but also we did not need more time spent with either of them, because yawn). Also who ruled the kingdom between the shipwreck and the coronation?
posted by troika at 2:37 PM on March 25 [1 favorite]


Like when Ash's hair goes grey at the end of Evil Dead 2.
posted by brundlefly at 2:38 PM on March 25 [1 favorite]


Maybe they're just drawn by the same person?

Beyond the fact that if you read what you linked to, you'd see Frozen isn't among his credits, I think most artists are capable of drawing more than one face.
posted by kmz at 2:38 PM on March 25 [4 favorites]


My seven year old came out of Frozen gleefully singing "Let it go" and in the weeks that followed the rest of the songs. I could not be bothered to listen to what's her name singing, i could hardly be interested in the animation, but to hear my little girl singing these songs with such happy gusto is sugar covered joy. Disney rules.
posted by three blind mice at 2:38 PM on March 25 [2 favorites]


The "article" starts with a bad assumption. Art instructor comments to young art student's drawings of characters had the same face. Author from then thinks all faces have to be different. Author sees similar faces (and even concedes that they aren't the same as Rapunzels) and jumps to "something is amiss." Uses the words "design mistake." Yes. Disney made a huge mistake in these characters and every other movie of which they've sold hundreds of thousands of copies.

Glen Keane apparently should quit his day job as an animator based on this person's art instructor.
posted by Big_B at 2:39 PM on March 25 [2 favorites]


Hmm. It's not listed on his filmography but his daughter worked on Frozen. And she has now left Disney to work with him. Wierd. An article I was reading was talking about his involvement with Frozen so I went to his wiki and saw all his credits for the previous films, where the heroines do look very similar.
posted by Big_B at 2:43 PM on March 25


And geeze, in that concept art Rapunzel is pretty much already Barbie proportions, and they still want "waist narrower", "hips wider".
posted by kmz at 2:44 PM on March 25 [7 favorites]


Glen Keane apparently should quit his day job as an animator based on this person's art instructor.

I don't think anybody's saying that.

Surely there is at least a basis for having a discussion about whether or not the character design in Frozen is problematic? I mean, several people have commented in this thread that they didn't realize there were two main characters. Even apart from the gender issues, that kind of strikes me as a mistake.
posted by my favorite orange at 2:44 PM on March 25 [17 favorites]


I had this same beef with Betty and Veronica. And Midge, who was still somehow my fave.
posted by umberto at 2:45 PM on March 25 [2 favorites]


the only ones that don't use the exact same two faces for the hero and heroine do so because the hero/ine is either a pre-existing licensed character

Even then, he sneaks some Miyazaki-lady-face into Fujiko (though to be fair, he did a skooch of that when he was working on the original Lupin TV show too, so arguably that general Miyazaki face is in Fujiko's DNA from the animated beginning).
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 2:52 PM on March 25 [1 favorite]


Datapoint: I haven't seen the movie, and the two main characters do not look the same at all to me.
posted by Sticherbeast at 2:54 PM on March 25 [1 favorite]


- You see, because the concept and predevelopment designs made the sisters look different, that is unchallengeable canon and must be adhered to once they develop


also, the author fails to point out: Same Race Syndrome
posted by mulligan at 2:54 PM on March 25 [2 favorites]


I mean, several people have commented in this thread that they didn't realize there were two main characters. Even apart from the gender issues, that kind of strikes me as a mistake.

Before I saw the movie, I thought American Psycho was about sociopathic wall street business behaviour. I'm not sure that my misconception indicates that the movie makers made a mistake.

Ok, ok, I totally do think they made a mistake - creating yet another axe-wielding-psycho movie is a lost opportunity next to making a movie about sociopaths in business. :)
posted by anonymisc at 2:55 PM on March 25 [1 favorite]


So it's not sexism. Glad we cleared that up.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 2:56 PM on March 25 [5 favorites]


Technically that movie could have combined both sisters into one person and not been substantially different.
posted by blue_beetle at 2:57 PM on March 25


Character development of Elsa
Jin Kim's character development art (that's the character designer.)
I think the Tumblr poster has a ways to go before she's in the big leagues. Getting into animation is very competitive even for students at the very top-tier schools.
posted by Ideefixe at 2:57 PM on March 25 [1 favorite]


Yes. Disney made a huge mistake in these characters and every other movie of which they've sold hundreds of thousands of copies.

The "Disney made lots of money from these movies, therefore the movies contain no mistakes" argument is not particularly compelling.
posted by IAmUnaware at 2:57 PM on March 25 [28 favorites]


OK, so they have similar features. But not the same faces. And the animation is so good that they have wildly different expressions, which gives them a lot more depth over Disney characters a generation ago.
posted by mochapickle at 2:58 PM on March 25 [2 favorites]


Before I saw the movie, I thought American Psycho was about sociopathic wall street business behaviour. I don't know that that indicates the movie makers made a mistake.

Yeah, "mistake" is probably the wrong word. I'm sure that it was pretty deliberate; I doubt that anything makes it into Disney movies without undergoing plenty of scrutiny.

So now can we talk about why Disney made this highly deliberate, definitely-not-a-mistake decision?

Something that I think the article kind of misses is that, while Disney's depictions of women in previous eras don't all have the same face, they all hew pretty closely to whatever the cultural standard of feminine beauty was at the time. Maybe what makes Frozen stand out is that it's the first Disney movie with two heroines.
posted by my favorite orange at 3:03 PM on March 25 [3 favorites]


Not sure I agree that the male leads look quite different. One has a slightly bigger nose, I guess, but other than that it's basically the same 'new hairdo, therefore new character' thing the princesses get. It's certainly more pronounced with the princesses, though.
posted by echo target at 3:04 PM on March 25


She's definitely right about evil characters getting to have more distinctive faces. Partly I think that's because every evil character is evil in their own way, whereas every good character is pretty much like every other good character (at least in fairy-tale land). Evil characters are where everyone gets to have fun - writers, costume designers, animators, actors, etc. There's so much more distinctiveness there to chew on.
posted by echo target at 3:08 PM on March 25 [10 favorites]


Elsa has higher cheekbones, a longer nose, and a squarer jaw. I agree that they have the same ski-jump of a nose at the end, and it'd be nice if they'd let the women have more nose styles like the guys do, but they don't have the same face.

I feel like a lot of the criticism goes, "sure, one has higher and more defined cheekbones, narrower cheeks, a longer nose, and a squarer jaw, but THEY HAVE THE SAME FACE!" Which--no, they don't, as you've just admitted.
posted by skullhead at 3:08 PM on March 25 [5 favorites]


The "Disney made lots of money from these movies, therefore the movies contain no mistakes" argument is not particularly compelling.

I think it is. A criticism that is valid from an artistic or social perspective can be simply beside the point if the design purpose of the product was money. Like how it's clearly a mistake for our society that Walmart is paying people less than a living wage, but to say that Walmart has made a mistake in doing that, no, no they haven't. They're reaping reward. If there is a mistake, it's ours.
posted by anonymisc at 3:16 PM on March 25


this person doesn't spend a lot of time looking at faces. Certainly, withing the framework of Disney art , there are going to be similarities, because it's a branded look, but even Elsa and Anna have some obvious differences.
Faces can be divided, from top to bottom, into thirds. In the image near the bottom of the post, where the sisters are standing in 3/4 profile next to one another, it is clear that Anna's lower third is larger than her upper third (forehead) and Elsa's is the exact opposite. Anna's chin is, therefore longer, and Elsa's nose is much closer to her chin.
Not one of her other examples stands up to close scrutiny at all either.
posted by OHenryPacey at 3:20 PM on March 25 [14 favorites]


Contrast is one of the principles behind good character design. If you look at a movie like 'Sleeping Beauty' you can see a big difference of shapes between the characters. Put the main characters in a silhouette lineup and you could definitely guess who is who, something that I don't think is true in Frozen. I put some of the blame on 3D (it hasn't for the most part evolved beyond doing more with design than striving for realism) but The Incredibles (Pixar) or Wreck it Ralph (Disney) both show such a variety of inventive character design that you can't put all the blame there.

I definitely agree with the author that contrast is being lost in favor of a bland, admittedly appealing, sameness.

I think the driving force here is the question 'what will little girls (or their parents) buy?'

If you put any feature on a character that is coded as less desirable, fewer girls will want to buy the doll based on that character. So neither is shorter or taller, neither is fatter or thinner, neither has a very long face or a very round face. They just become bland.
posted by matcha action at 3:23 PM on March 25 [4 favorites]



I mean, several people have commented in this thread that they didn't realize there were two main characters. Even apart from the gender issues, that kind of strikes me as a mistake.


At least one person who made such a comment admitted they haven't seen the movie and don't know the plot. I think if you watched the movie and paid any attention at all, I can't understand how you would think they were the same person.

Like...what.
posted by sweetkid at 3:24 PM on March 25 [3 favorites]


or an anthropomorphic pig.

Favorited for referencing Porco Rosso, about a biplane pilot who is supposedly cursed by a witch to turn into a pig, but has decided that he likes being a pig, and if my memory holds the pig thing is really more of a visual manifestation of an act he puts on to avoid getting close to people. It's been years since I saw that one though, I should rewatch it before I try to say anything more bout it. I thought it was somewhat out of character for Miyazaki though, I liked it.

I think it is. A criticism that is valid from an artistic or social perspective can be simply beside the point if the design purpose of the product was money.

It is a mistake, but its one they do not know they're making. There are higher, more important ideals than making money. People's ignorance/willful neglecting of that fact is one of the great ills of the age.
posted by JHarris at 3:27 PM on March 25


The overall plot arc was definitely not Miyazaki's usual thing, but it was also about planes, which puts it right back in his wheelhouse (so to speak).
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 3:30 PM on March 25


lesli212: "Why even hire someone with a voice as powerful and distinctive as Menzel's if you're going to hide it behind the visual of Generic CGI Disney Princess #2?"

Good point. One of the fun things about Aladdin is how the genie looks a bit like Robin Williams. Some of the best animation mirrors real people in subtle ways.
posted by Kevin Street at 3:31 PM on March 25 [5 favorites]


Was it a "mistake?" Probably not. I suspect that they choose to deemphasize differences between the two protagonists because it is ultimately a story where roll over for spoiler.

Do I think that Frozen will be considered one of the studio's best character designs? Probably not.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 3:49 PM on March 25 [1 favorite]


Is this going to be a thread in which we all collectively ignore the elephant in the room?

Which is, of course, their creepy, huge eyes?
They all look the same because half of their head is eyeball!

I mean, if this trend continues, all the princesses are going to be skinny barbie bodies with Mike Wazowski eyes on top.
posted by madajb at 3:59 PM on March 25 [14 favorites]


Before I saw the movie, I thought American Psycho was about sociopathic wall street business behaviour. I'm not sure that my misconception indicates that the movie makers made a mistake.

Am I nuts or was it not an allegory for wall street business behaviour? That was my takeaway.
posted by Hoopo at 4:01 PM on March 25 [2 favorites]


lesli212: "I did come out of Frozen wishing the animators had not only done more to distinguish the sisters from each other, but to make Elsa more evocative of Menzel. Why even hire someone with a voice as powerful and distinctive as Menzel's if you're going to hide it behind the visual of Generic CGI Disney Princess #2?"

Probably because they couldn't market Giselle from Enchanted with the "Disney Princesses" line because they'd have to pay royalties to Amy Adams for her image.

mulligan: "also, the author fails to point out: Same Race Syndrome"

I did notice in the ballroom/coronation scenes the first time I watched that there were persons of color among the nobility (and also interracial couples dancing). (That's the first picture I found.) I'm not sure if they're all meant to be Sami or if it's a mix of local and visiting nobility or we're just allowing the realm of fantasy things that never happened to be more diverse now, but in any case it's nice that they did it and hopefully that's a signal of progress.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 4:07 PM on March 25 [2 favorites]


a combination of laziness and sexism

The sexism I agree with you on, but not really the laziness, at least if you mean on the part of the animators / character designers. The initial character sketches had more, uh, character to them. And then they got weirdly buffed-and-puffed into Generic Disney Princess somewhere between there and the movie.

So it seems like the animators tried to make a character that was unique and had some sort of visual personality and unique attributes, and somebody put the kibosh on it and told them to make it look like Rapunzel 2.0.
posted by Kadin2048 at 4:16 PM on March 25 [1 favorite]


I read somewhere that Frozen had a decades long process of development, so you have to be a bit careful when drawing conclusions from concept art. It may have been produced by artists no longer working for Disney, maybe even before the CG era began.
posted by Kevin Street at 4:22 PM on March 25


I think the tumblr post was valuable, if only for highlighting just how far removed the final character designs are from the original (outstanding) concept art. Seriously, they went from this to this?? Dullsville.
posted by Atom Eyes at 4:39 PM on March 25 [4 favorites]


DISNEY VILLAINS LOOK DIFFERENT AMIRITE
[illustrates point with images of Jafar and Cruella de Vil]
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:43 PM on March 25


They have one evil grin but a wide variety of chins to attach it to.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 4:46 PM on March 25 [2 favorites]


Don’t even tell me it’s because they’re sisters, because I have two sisters, and I don’t look identical to either of them. I have never met a pair of non-twin siblings who had the Exact Same Face.

Oh, well, because YOU don't look like your sisters, that means NO two sisters have a close resemblance.

My sister and I are a year apart, have different hair and eye colors, and a height difference of five inches, and we still look so much alike people mistake us for each other at a distance. My mother has a fraternal twin (so genetically no more alike than a non-twin sister) and the same thing happens with them. The little girls in The Shining weren't twins. My father and his brothers are like a tall, dark version of the Children of the Damned.

Anyway, leaving aside the fact that siblings who aren't the writer of this article often DO look very similar (even if one of them isn't cross-eyed like Anna), having two very different siblings look alike is a dramatic device as old as the theater - like having the same actor play Claudius and the ghost of King Hamlet. It's used to highlight the fact that these two characters could be, or could have been, close, or had the same life, but for some tragic twist of fate.

It's the same device Mary Blair used in it's a small world by having all the dolls have the same face and different costumes: the message is that the children of the world may have differences, but they're all external and they're the same inside.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 4:52 PM on March 25 [10 favorites]


I was just talking with my sons recently (and repeatedly) about the lack of visual prosody in cartoons/comics -- ie that cartoon or comic faces often have limited variation in expression.

I know that large heads (something noted in this piece) can be driven by a desire/need to have room to emphasize facial features. Kind of like old maps showed the country of origin as "huge" with glorious detail and then, say the map is of Great Britain, and you get some dinky reference to "Russia here" type imagery. The size was not representative of physical scale. It was more representative of psychological "scale" and depth of information that locals had relative to each place, as well as what they needed. If you were a peasant in England a few hundred years ago "Russia is kind of here-ish" was sufficient information to your needs.

As for sisters looking alike: My sister has straight hair and I have curly. There are other differences but she has at times been asked in reference to pictures of me sitting in her home "When did you have your hair permed like that?" (I don't think we look too much alike these days but we did when we were younger.)
posted by Michele in California at 4:57 PM on March 25


"The sexism I agree with you on, but not really the laziness, at least if you mean on the part of the animators / character designers. The initial character sketches had more, uh, character to them. And then they got weirdly buffed-and-puffed into Generic Disney Princess somewhere between there and the movie.

So it seems like the animators tried to make a character that was unique and had some sort of visual personality and unique attributes, and somebody put the kibosh on it and told them to make it look like Rapunzel 2.0.
"

No, the laziness is that they could have been individual characters, rather than Rapunzel 2.0.
posted by klangklangston at 5:00 PM on March 25


People on tumblr spend a lot of time trying to find new ways to hate Frozen without, like, just deciding Disney movies are dumb and they won't give that company their money anymore.
posted by Sara C. at 5:02 PM on March 25 [8 favorites]


People on Tumblr aren't old enough to see anything but Disney movies in the theaters.
posted by klangklangston at 5:04 PM on March 25 [1 favorite]


So now can we talk about why Disney made this highly deliberate, definitely-not-a-mistake decision?

Disney is in the toy selling business far more than they are really in the movie-making business. Someone did some math and realized they could save millions by doing this, and the film's audience would never notice at all.
posted by Sara C. at 5:05 PM on March 25 [5 favorites]


Or: The same reason that facials are in porn. Not enough people object to make it a money loser.
posted by klangklangston at 5:08 PM on March 25


People on tumblr spend a lot of time trying to find new ways to hate Frozen without, like, just deciding Disney movies are dumb and they won't give that company their money anymore.

Seriously. This seems like classic tumblr overreaction trying to dress itself as social commentary.
posted by sweetkid at 5:10 PM on March 25 [7 favorites]


I would say it's more a young artist and blogger trying her hand at social commentary, perhaps a bit clunkily. As for overreaction, you might look to some of the glib kneejerk comments upthread.
posted by Atom Eyes at 5:22 PM on March 25 [4 favorites]


I would say it's more a young artist and blogger trying her hand at social commentary

I think that's fair. But I don't think her critique really holds up.
posted by sweetkid at 5:24 PM on March 25 [1 favorite]


I agree. It's not like Disney is Shakespeare or anything.
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:27 PM on March 25


*did not RTF as of yet*

Something to do with the simplification for the rotational molding process in Shenzhen, China to, among other things, using too much pvc material and to avoid using too much dioxin such that it poisons the entire workstaff too quickly and kills off the child laborers before hounding them into suicide and avoiding basic sanitation and ventilation, forcing long overtime work, compulsory seven day work weeks during peak commitments, failing to pay even minimum Chinese wages and partnering with Mattel and Wal-Mart to further leverage purchasing power and maximizing profits in a horrible, systematic and crippling to human rights method of production?

(All that of course predicated on first researching child psychology and play patterns to systematically overhaul toy lineups every six months to match design requirements and marketing strategies that demand toys be similar in more ways than they are different, but different enough to pair with fast food companies and other licensee companies that use the same process to manufacture their own products in the toy line which leads to further human rights abuses and essentially useless consumption and waste of material and resources as well as artificially lowered shipping costs further degrading the environment (such that we have a gigantic maelstrom of essentially this kind of garbage in the pacific ocean) to exploit labor costs (the way they did (do?) in Burma, Vietnam, Haiti – women and children stitching Aladdin t-shirts and Pocahontas pajamas for 11 to 28 cents an hour), etc.) and subvert the very economy they profit from by farming jobs overseas?)


*R’sTF*
Huh. Sexism. That's much better. Everyone can enjoy that.
posted by Smedleyman at 5:35 PM on March 25 [5 favorites]


lesli212: "Why even hire someone with a voice as powerful and distinctive as Menzel's if you're going to hide it behind the visual of Generic CGI Disney Princess #2?"

I'd actually thought that the animators had subtly inserted Menzel and Bell's body language into their characters. I know that Anna's lip bite was inspired by Bell, and when Elsa sings "Let It Go" her arm motions, her facial expressions kept making me think of Menzel's past performances as Maureen and Elphaba.
posted by ntartifex at 5:36 PM on March 25 [1 favorite]


I would say it's more a young artist and blogger trying her hand at social commentary, perhaps a bit clunkily.

Yep

I think that's fair. But I don't think her critique really holds up.

And Yep. Nonetheless, I don't want to be part of a pile-on of someone starting down a path that hopefully may lead to good things. So, whether hitting the mark or missing it at this point, good on her for noticing and thinking and sharing.
posted by anonymisc at 5:37 PM on March 25


I don't really get why we're supposed to avoid "piling on" or critiquing this piece of writing in any way. It's silly and wrong-headed and ignorant. It points out things about Disney animation I noticed when I was seven.

Frankly, I think more tumblr bloggers need to be eviscerated on the internet. That place is your mom's email forwards turned up to eleven.
posted by Sara C. at 5:44 PM on March 25 [3 favorites]


Frankly, I think more tumblr bloggers need to be eviscerated on the internet.

Honestly, I feel like "let's eviscerate this" is something people are sometimes a little too eager and righteous about in a way that's deleterious to otherwise interesting critical discussions.
posted by cortex at 5:49 PM on March 25 [36 favorites]


I don't really get why we're supposed to avoid "piling on" or critiquing this piece of writing in any way.

I don't mean to suggest people shouldn't criticize. In this case it's a choice I make for me because, among other reasons, I'm a guy on an internet where guys criticizing feminist speech is such a problem that I don't know if being thoughtful or or insightful or having good-faith outweighs becoming part of the crush. My expectation is that bad ideas will not propagate very far with or without me. :)
posted by anonymisc at 6:11 PM on March 25 [2 favorites]


But not everyone on the internet is "guys criticizing feminist speech". Some people on the internet are other feminists who still vehemently disagree with this piece on a variety of levels despite also thinking that Disney is sexist garbage. So it seems kind of weird to be all "oh come now let's not pile on". Pile away, as far as this feminist is concerned.

The abovementioned "pile away" is a hyperbolic flourish and does not constitute an intent to start an argument in this thread. I don't have much else to say on this topic aside from "omg seriously just stop giving Disney free PR if you hate them so much".
posted by Sara C. at 6:17 PM on March 25 [1 favorite]


I don't see anywhere in her article where she mentions hating Disney. Saying two characters have very similar faces (that are similar to a third) isn't hating Disney. I like some of Disney stuff very, very much (other stuff not so much) but the character design in Frozen was super bland.

I mean-- let's confine ourselves to Disney and point out some less bland, less samey character design. Look at Lilo and Stitch-- all the characters (even the human ones) have very different shapes, there is a ton of contrast between big and small, round and angular. Look at Emperor's New Groove. Look at Sleeping Beauty, which I already mentioned. Even Snow White and the Seven Dwarves-- even confined to the restriction of 'seven dwarves', each is drawn differently, to show their personality.

It's about making design choices. Create characters who are different from each other, and reveal their character through their design. I don't know anything about Elsa and Anna from looking at a still picture of them. I don't blame the character designers-- no doubt there are a ton of the best in the world working at Disney. But I do think character design suffers when it's run through a 'what will girls buy/what fits our Princesses brand' filter.
posted by matcha action at 6:37 PM on March 25 [11 favorites]


this is why I loved Lilo and Nani so much from Lilo and stitch. Both are adorable and stylized, and both completely break this mold. Nani, especially is beautiful, non-european, and has a little belly.
posted by es_de_bah at 7:17 PM on March 25 [15 favorites]


To be fair, I'm sure they think we look all alike too.

Yup, like walking wallets--got to buy kids those outrageously priced movie-spinoffs.

Even if you think the faces aren't interchangeable, the bodies certainly are. Aside from the enormous eyes, there's no jaw definition and ridiculously long necks. Take off the special gown that each princess wears, and you have the same sized boobs, impossibly small waist and and elongated torso. The upper arms have no muscle definition or development, the legs are skinny and also impossibly long. They're a weird mix of neoteny and female sexuality.

Too bad a few Disney designed princesses can't be a bit short and pudgy, with an imperfect nose and an ear-to-ear grin wide mouth grin, as well as wrinkles on her forehead. It's interesting that a princess that looks more like the "average" young girl (toddler to pre-teen) is a monster.

I'll bet the artists could come up with something interesting, if the Disney culture didn't demand a stereotype as princess.
posted by BlueHorse at 7:25 PM on March 25 [7 favorites]


pertinent!
posted by es_de_bah at 7:28 PM on March 25 [9 favorites]


Is this going to be a thread in which we all collectively ignore the elephant in the room?

Which is, of course, their creepy, huge eyes?
They all look the same because half of their head is eyeball!


Yes!

And the other elephant in the room, which is that Anna is cross-eyed? Like, really badly, WTF, cross-eyed, with eyes the size of golf balls?!

All this boggly-eyed Disney Princess stuff cannot be unrelated to the 'same-face' selfies that young women post on Facebook/reddit etc. I remember the first time I ever wandered over to reddit, and ended up in r/amiugly. Almost every single entry involved the same pose: look up at the camera, make expression vacant, purse lips to make them tiny and pouty, and then (the important part), open eyes as wide as humanly possible. Ideally whilst wearing a megaton of eye makeup. It just looks...gormless.

This is a look that I've only ever seen before on actual babies; like, my niece's eyes used to drift inward so frequently that I was (secretly) a little worried she was permanently cross-eyed.

Yes, I know all the cultural stuff about babyish faces being attractive on women because they portray youth/innocence/vulnerability, and so on, but still...actual cross-eyes the size of one's hand seems to be taking the whole thing too far.

Disclaimer: I did RTFA, but I haven't seen Frozen. Or any other Disney princess film. I'm just making a (possibly half-arsed) observation. FWIW, I don't think Anna and Elsa have 'the same face', but I do think they have almost-the-same-face, which is now aped by an entire generation of females under 25 on the internet. Disturbing.
posted by Salamander at 7:47 PM on March 25


All this boggly-eyed Disney Princess stuff cannot be unrelated to the 'same-face' selfies that young women post on Facebook/reddit etc.

That was my thought when I saw Frozen. I thought Anna and Elsa's big eyed small mouthed style *might* be modeled on the current vogue for similarly posed selfies by young girls/women over the last few years. I don't think there is anything vapid about it though, it's just the style/in thing right now, like onions on belts were in the past.
posted by sweetkid at 8:05 PM on March 25 [2 favorites]


MetaFilter: Like a tall, dark version of the Children of the Damned.

There. Now I can sleep.

posted by Songdog at 8:06 PM on March 25 [2 favorites]


It's not like anime haven't been pushing the big eyes small mouth pert nose aesthetic for freaking ever guys. More and more western animators are really heavily influenced by anime in terms of character design and storytelling in general and that's definitely influencing western animation companies like Disney and Pixar and Dreamworks on their more "realistic" offerings.

Keep in mind that in general neoteny is considered attractive in humans especially human females and animation typically stylizes that to the nth degree is there really any doubt that Elsa and Anna and Rapunzel would exhibit neoteny as a way of emphasizing their attractiveness without making them too overtly sexualized?
posted by vuron at 8:16 PM on March 25 [6 favorites]


And the other elephant in the room, which is that Anna is cross-eyed? Like, really badly, WTF, cross-eyed, with eyes the size of golf balls?!

Is Anna the purple one? Because she seriously is!
posted by madajb at 8:40 PM on March 25 [1 favorite]


I'm surprised that the animators didn't at least somewhat base the characters' looks on Kristen Bell and Idina Menzel's. Do animators not do that anymore in general? (To my eyes, though, it looks like they drew on the male leads' looks for their characters? I just say that from looking at the screenshots of the characters next to the actors' IMDb pictures).

When I was a kid, I remember watching short documentaries on how Disney animators designed the lions for The Lion King by bringing real lions into the studios to sketch, and how they used actors and their performances as part of the inspiration for how their characters would look and move.

The clearest examples I can think of are probably Genii/Robin Williams in Aladdin, and Emperor Kuzco/David Spade and Pasca/John Goodman in The Emperor's New Groove, but I'm not especially up on Disney movies (or animated movies in general) so I don't really know when the characters stopped seeming to get inspiration from the voice actors' looks/performances (if they did?).

I had actually thought that basing the animation on real animals/people/life was part of the charm of it? Why would they give that up? Is there some kind of technical reason, or is it an artistic choice on the part of Disney?
posted by rue72 at 9:07 PM on March 25


I didn't read the article because I didn't see any images that looked that alike illustrating the argument. If your peg is ALL DISNEY CHARACTERS LOOK ALIKE!!!1!!!, you need better exhibits than that. YMMY caveat: all Disney characters look superficially alike to me, and, really, if your point of departure is there is a way for Disney to be good at all, ever, in any conceivable human way, well, good luck with that.

signed, a dude who used to color comics and can talk to you a lot about lazy character design
posted by 99_ at 9:19 PM on March 25


My guess is that it's a specific policy change. I can't remember the last time a famous actor voiced a Disney or Dreamworks character that actually looked like them. As mentioned upthread, my guess is that it's to avoid the potential of likeness rights. Especially since, also as mentioned upthread, like 90% of the point of even making these movies is for the ability to reproduce those images ad nauseam, in infinite formats.

The last thing you want is to give Idina Menzel a cut of the Frozen straight-to-video sequels, Saturday morning cartoon, Broadway musical, dolls, clothes, Happy Meal toys, lunch boxes, board games, etc etc etc etc.

Personally, I think it's better this way, because A) it leads to more flexible casting, and B) it gives the films a more classic, timeless appeal since the characters aren't so clearly tied to a momentary pop cultural fad.
posted by Sara C. at 9:21 PM on March 25 [1 favorite]


An exemplar of tumblr social commentary!
posted by zscore at 9:23 PM on March 25


I didn't read the article

That's the exact spot I stopped reading your comment.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 9:51 PM on March 25 [2 favorites]


It's not like anime haven't been pushing the big eyes small mouth pert nose aesthetic for freaking ever guys. More and more western animators are really heavily influenced by anime in terms of character design and storytelling in general and that's definitely influencing western animation companies like Disney and Pixar and Dreamworks on their more "realistic" offerings.

Yeah, but Tezuka got the big eyes small mouth thing from Disney in the first place.

...

As a child growing up in the 1930s and 1940s, Osamu Tezuka adored Walt Disney. He is said to have watched the 1942 Disney film “Bambi” more than 80 times. He also enjoyed “Dumbo” and the post-WWII “Uncle Scrooge” comics drawn by Disney animator, Carl Bark.

Under the influence of the animated, full-length Disney feature films of his youth, Tezuka became the first anime artist to tell stories in a manner that was cinematic in scope. Where other artists had been simplistic and guileless in their storytelling, Tezuka was intensely active and highly emotional in his. Tezuka wasn’t afraid to use several pages to explore a scene in detail.

Anyone who compared the work of anime artist Osamu Tezuka and the work that came out of Walt Disney studios in the 1930s and 1940s could see the obvious similarities between Disney’s characters and Tezuka’s. Of course, Tezuka created all of his own characters and story lines, but he borrowed the bold lines, round heads and large, expressive eyes of Disney characters, making his own characters at once impossibly cute and extremely expressive.

Borrowing Disney’s simplified animation style served two purposes for Tezuka: It helped him cut animation costs, which was crucial in an industry that was already struggling, and it also ensured that his mangas and anime films sacrificed none of their emotional intensity. The large eyes, though cartoonish, allowed Tezuka’s characters to express any emotion called for by the scene.

posted by sebastienbailard at 9:52 PM on March 25 [3 favorites]


> People on tumblr spend a lot of time trying to find new ways to hate Frozen without, like, just deciding Disney movies are dumb and they won't give that company their money anymore.

Seriously. This seems like classic tumblr overreaction trying to dress itself as social commentary


Disney stuff is a major influence on American and world culture, and entirely deserving of some off-the-cuff analysis by an animation student. Or a more intense analysis and picking-apart, from a technical artistic perspective, or feminist cultural criticism, etc.
posted by sebastienbailard at 9:56 PM on March 25 [3 favorites]


Something to do with the simplification for the rotational molding process in Shenzhen, China to, among other things, using too much pvc material and to avoid using too much dioxin such that it poisons the entire workstaff too quickly and kills off the child laborers before hounding them into suicide and avoiding basic sanitation and ventilation, forcing long overtime work, compulsory seven day work weeks during peak commitments, failing to pay even minimum Chinese wages and partnering with Mattel and Wal-Mart to further leverage purchasing power and maximizing profits in a horrible, systematic and crippling to human rights method of production?

Yea, seriously. Disney movies are not movies. They haven't been for a long time. They are elaborate and massively coordinated marketing campaigns for introducing a seemingly endless variety of sparkly and highly profitable princess merchandise that can be sold globally. Elsa and Anna are as much product designs as they are characters. And Disney has gradually perfected the art of melding storytelling with consumerism.

The increasingly emphasized "babyface" look is likely due in part to this - more cutesy, doll-like faces more or less because these characters designs will be shipped off to factories in China and other parts of the Global South so Elsa and Anna can be made into actual dolls.
posted by adso at 10:04 PM on March 25 [2 favorites]


That's the exact spot I stopped reading your comment.

Sorry I forgot the [sarcasm] tag. But when your quote is a "photoshopping characters onto one another", using something other than two publicity stills to prove a point is perhaps a fair expectation?
posted by 99_ at 10:12 PM on March 25 [1 favorite]


I watched Frozen today with about two-dozen 5-year-olds at our school (it was Pajama Day and the kid's last day before their 3-day Spring Break).

As the movie's main song played through our trusty little PC speakers, the words were overpowered by the the majority of the girls in our class bursting into their own take on "Let it go!". I'll tell you what: vocal work, enthusiasm, and dramatic arm movements worthy of an operatic production.

I don't know which of us had more fun—the kids watching the movie, or us teachers who got to watch them with our wide-mouthed smiles.
posted by blueberry at 10:25 PM on March 25 [8 favorites]


Art instruction can be as hazardous as it is helpful. All those years I wasted never using black, others never using white, or avoiding straight lines or repeatedly making efforts to draw from the shoulder, just because some teacher or writer casually dropped some piece of wisdom that might have worked for what Cezanne was trying to do but never much applied to many other directions someone may chose to go. To me it sounded like a rule never to be broken. A teacher made a criticism of the writer's drawings looking similar facially and for now the writer sees variety in shape and form as the ultimate marker between success and failure. Much effort will be expended attempting to design around simple forms and silhouettes before realizing that the path of creative exploration for big budget Disney princess movies might differ significantly from those of Spongebob Squarepants. Of course the designers can have more fun creating villains and background characters - it's also true for live action movies that greater variety is tolerated for supporting characters than the lead actors.
posted by TimTypeZed at 10:29 PM on March 25 [4 favorites]


Sorry I forgot the [sarcasm] tag. But when your quote is a "photoshopping characters onto one another", using something other than two publicity stills to prove a point is perhaps a fair expectation?

At this moment, you still haven 't demonstrated that you have read the article, because you're not engaging in the argument she presents, but instead with a pull quote and one of many illustrations. But at least that's progress, as your last comment didn't even bother with that much, but instead decided to boil her argument down into an easily dismissed paraphrase.

So, no, I don't need sarcasm. What I would like is that when women raise a concern, men in particular not instantly pile on, take on a condescending scholarly tone, and scarcely be arsed to read the original post. There's far too much of that in this thread, and you're just a particular sampling of it, but it's bad faith, it's disrespectful, it makes it very hard to actually engage with what's being said in the original post, and it reenforces a sexist cultural norm where when women raise gender issues a parade of (often) men will instantaneously appear to peck their argument to death with a self-appointed knowingness that presumes greater education and greater validity of opinion.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:19 PM on March 25 [10 favorites]


And, to be clear, I realize you may or may not be a man, but this thread has been dominated by this sort if dismissive behavior, especially from men, and it comes off as a gendered pile-on, not a respectful disagreement.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:24 PM on March 25


I guess there's a separate conversation which might occur about what earns respect or deserve it as a matter of 'scholarship' (the various lenses: on the open internet, linked by MeFi, filtered through a 'credentialed' publication, etc). but the accusation of 'dismissive' reads as knee jerk as it posits.

I'm honestly not clear on the argument the author presents. There aren't any figures that illustrate a point clearly - the features talked about vis a vis protagonists (instead of comparing them to caricatures of evil characters, who also aren't uniformly 'gross' or overweight, but merely drawn with outsized features) are fairly subjective and given Disney's lockstep adherence to Steve Madden-esque anime caricatures for, oh, 40 years, the lack of distinction between two characters in a single property (allowing for the vicissitudes of design by committee, overlapping art teams, toy development, etc) hardly merits the OH NOES breathless headline writing. The author has surely never encountered the Paramount flunky who once explicated to me in very serious tones the difference between two characters of a Very Important Franchise as one being 'grey-brown' and the other being 'brown-grey' so I guess she can be forgiven for thinking corporate design meetings are founts of creative expression.

Sorry if I expect more from an analysis of character design that conflates pencil sketches with CGI modeling and is littered with lots of half-hearted qualifications about the baseline of Disney princess (and then tries to defend a weak thesis with a screenshot of a character that is supposed to be 'good' in terms of anatomical design with a neck/head ratio that is simply improbable), but there isn't a single visual provided to sustain the argument in a way that either a lay person or a designer would find credible. And let's recall, the point of the article is two characters are indistinguishable, but not a single image was offered that even came close to proving this assertion.

I'm always surprised at which corners of the universe consider themselves 'safe spaces' for defending Disney, but I thought this was settled law decades ago. But even if we admit that such efforts can have a material impact on cultural production, this is not the text we should be hanging our hat on.
posted by 99_ at 11:56 PM on March 25 [4 favorites]


I would get on board with an article explaining/decrying how sexist stereotypes are incorporated into Disney house style but I would have to invent it out of whole cloth because it isn't here. Specifically, she doesn't really show an understanding of what a house style consists of (let alone the transition from 2D to 3D and what all that might entail) and how that differs from the "Same Face Syndrome" her instructor diagnosed her earlier work with, which term hopefully won't go viral because if so it will be used by legions of dumb nerds to go after everything that has an overarching style and thus make things worse.
posted by furiousthought at 11:58 PM on March 25 [3 favorites]


I'm surprised that the animators didn't at least somewhat base the characters' looks on Kristen Bell and Idina Menzel's. Do animators not do that anymore in general?

They still do lots of stuff like that.

Your memory is extremely selective. Sometimes characters are/were based on the voice actors portraying them, and sometimes they're not. It's always been up to the production, and character design and animation serve a thousand masters - referencing the voice actor is but one. I don't know the character designers' specific process w/r/t FROZEN, but I know they are currently designing characters based on the voice actors for at least two projects currently in production.

When I was a kid, I remember watching short documentaries on how Disney animators designed the lions for The Lion King by bringing real lions into the studios to sketch, and how they used actors and their performances as part of the inspiration for how their characters would look and move.

This has been part of animation for generations and it is still currently part of animation.

I had actually thought that basing the animation on real animals/people/life was part of the charm of it? Why would they give that up? Is there some kind of technical reason, or is it an artistic choice on the part of Disney?

Good news: even though you seem to have speculated your way into thinking they've given up using real-world references for animation, they have not, in fact, given it up.

I'm now trying to think of a sect of commercial artist who doesn't base a large part of their art on using real-world references. I can't think of one. If Disney animators gave up on using real-world references, they would be the only commercial artists in the history of history to do so.

My guess is that it's a specific policy change.

Not a policy change. Disney isn't the Kremlin. Also: it isn't a policy change because it hasn't happened.
posted by incessant at 12:00 AM on March 26 [4 favorites]


It's not like anime haven't been pushing the big eyes small mouth pert nose aesthetic for freaking ever guys.

Ya, I acknowledged that, and the reasons for it (childish features = youth/vulnerability/female attractiveness).

My point was that cross-eyedness is a whole new level of gormless-looking innocence. Like a baby that can't focus. It's weird.
posted by Salamander at 2:13 AM on March 26


Please can we have some new noses, though? Do they all have to be the same bridgeless button?

I don't really get all the ripping of this article. Even if the face was not literally reused, it's still true that Disney princesses look really, really similar to each other. Wouldn't it be more interesting if, even within the standard Disney huge head/huge eyes style, each main character had her own face shape, jaw shape, mouth shape? They'd be way more personal and distinctive. Probably be a problem for toy manufacture, though.
posted by ostro at 6:56 AM on March 26


It's fair to say that the most recent princesses look similar to each other, in fact, the similarity struck me when I saw the first trailer for Frozen. I do not think they are the same face, however, which is different than saying that they're similar. I saw it more of, "Oh, so Disney is continuing that type of character design forward..." in the same way that there's definitely a Pixar aesthetic to their human designs (which lets people create Pixar-like images and what have you). I look at the three characters and I see three different individuals.
posted by Atreides at 7:46 AM on March 26 [1 favorite]


I don't really get all the ripping of this article.

To me, it reads like a tu quoque from an animation student who was criticized in one of her classes for redrawing the same face with different hairstyles. There's also a lot of recycled criticism of Disney animation which is mostly true but not all relevant to the question at hand, which is whether the characters have the "Exact Same Face" (not really) and whether the resemblance is justified by their being sisters (yes).
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:16 AM on March 26 [1 favorite]


There's also a lot of recycled criticism of Disney animation which is mostly true but not all relevant to the question at hand, which is whether the characters have the "Exact Same Face" (not really) and whether the resemblance is justified by their being sisters (yes).

There's also an assertion that this "Same Face Syndrome" is Because Sexism, and not due to the many very practical reasons that this phenomenon could be occurring.

Which isn't to say that Disney isn't sexist, or that there isn't sexism specifically in the way Disney designs female characters, or even that it's not all based on a somewhat reductive attitude about what a "princess" is supposed to look like.

I frankly thought that es_de_bah's link, above, did a much better job of analyzing "Same Face Syndrome", without making the facile leap to "BECAUSE DISNEY HATES WOMEN".

Reading that link, aside from the obvious convenience in terms of branding and toy manufacture, it occurs to me that it most likely has to do with the fact that Disney wants to create princesses who can act as ciphers for the little girls in the audience. A blandly "cute" face full of neotenous features is easy for little girls to see themselves in.

Using a trademark facial structure also makes it obvious exactly who the princess is supposed to be -- see for instance the contrasts between Tiana and Charlotte La Beouf in The Princess And The Frog. The animators needed to make it clear that Tiana, not the sparkly blond southern belle Charlotte, is the princess in the title. So Tiana gets Princess Face, and Charlotte gets a more distinct look. Because little girls aren't supposed to identify with Charlotte.

Also, let's not kid ourselves here. Disney has been doing this forever. Belle is basically Ariel with brown hair, costumed for [handwave] century France. Aladdin is basically Prince Eric, but skinnier and browner. The main problem with Frozen and Tangled is that Disney chose to do two stories set in northern Europe with stock-princess protagonists, back to back. The real solution to "Same Face Syndrome" is to tell more diverse stories.

(Also, more to the Anna/Elsa same face issues, note that in The Little Mermaid, Ursula's man-stealing avatar is basically Ariel with black hair and bitchy resting face.)
posted by Sara C. at 9:40 AM on March 26 [6 favorites]


I not only found the sisters distractingly similar-faced, but a thing I really notice in CG animation is similar expressions and gestures. I'm very curious to understand more about how animation is done--what's the engine behind it--that leads to this. I became sensitized to it after first seeing something about the "Dreamworks face."

I don't actually know how much this represents a change, versus me becoming aware of similarities. Certainly the re-use of animation in Disney films--espeically choreography--suggests it's been a thing for a long time. I wonder if the fact that movies used to be shown in theaters and then mostly disappear encourage such re-use. Who was going to notice that a dance in Snow White and a dance in Robin Hood were exactly the same before the era of constant re-watching?
posted by not that girl at 9:46 AM on March 26


CG animation is a bit of a misnomer though since a lot of "2-D" work is done digitally these days, even for things that imitate cut-out and cel styles.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 11:04 AM on March 26 [2 favorites]


I guess the main lesson is, there's just not that much variety in attractive, marketable faces. Also, not that much difference in attractive, marketable personalities.

It's only a matter of time until they sell The Disney Figure: Male, and The Disney Figure: Female, with a wide variety of accessories and replacement body parts. (I am kidding, but before you laugh, think Lego minifig....)
posted by JHarris at 1:21 PM on March 26


Another idea: Are Frozen, Tangled And The Little Mermaid Actually Linked?

(No comment on Betteridge's Law :) )
posted by anonymisc at 1:39 PM on March 26


I'm another person that thought they were actually the same character. Like something happens in the middle of the movie and her hair changes color.

That's actually not totally off. Anna develops white hair after exposure to Elsa's powers.
posted by jenfullmoon at 1:54 PM on March 26


Another idea: Are Frozen, Tangled And The Little Mermaid Actually Linked?

Heh, that is awesome.
posted by Atreides at 2:09 PM on March 26 [1 favorite]


Standardized hero faces and bodies are troubling because they send the message that to be a hero you must be beautiful, and to be beautiful you must look a certain way. Girls in particular are absolutely bombarded with the message that they can only be interesting or sympathetic if they are beautiful as well.

I loved Frozen, but I would also love to see more female characters that are pudgy, brawny, big-nosed, gaunt, but still as appealing and heroic as, say, the protagonists of 'The Emperor's New Groove'.
posted by Kilter at 2:27 PM on March 26 [3 favorites]


Standardized hero faces and bodies are troubling because they send the message that to be a hero you must be beautiful, and to be beautiful you must look a certain way. Girls in particular are absolutely bombarded with the message that they can only be interesting or sympathetic if they are beautiful as well.

It's got to be said, though, that this is not a new thing, not new from Disney, and not confined to the specific examples that tend to be pointed out.

As a kid, the depiction of Cinderella's tiny feet and dainty ankles gave me the weird ohnoes cankles complex I still have as a woman in my thirties who is otherwise confident about her appearance.

And yet, you know, Cinderella having tiny feet is a central aspect of the story, not invented by Disney at all. You couldn't tell the story of Cinderella in a visual medium without depicting her as having perfect dainty feet.

So where does the fault lie? How much of this is just a society that tells little girls their entire job in life is to be pretty, to the extent of holding out physically desirable traits as signifiers of moral goodness? Disney monetizes these social forces, which is what makes them so fucked up. But I'm not convinced that a Frozen where Anna and Elsa look radically different from each other would be a more feminist Frozen.
posted by Sara C. at 2:44 PM on March 26 [5 favorites]


It's got to be said, though, that this is not a new thing, not new from Disney, and not confined to the specific examples that tend to be pointed out.

Totally agreed. In fact, Same Face Syndrome didn't bother me at all until I noticed it in my own cartooning. I'm not sure it's even possible to assign fault for something so pervasive.
posted by Kilter at 4:04 PM on March 26


Another idea: Are Frozen, Tangled And The Little Mermaid Actually Linked?

It's the Tommy Westphall Universe all over again!

It's got to be said, though, that this is not a new thing, not new from Disney, and not confined to the specific examples that tend to be pointed out.

Indeed not. I was thinking of the stock characters of the commedia dell'arte, who played out different stories, but always looked the same and had the same character traits, so a traveling company could go all over Europe and the audiences everywhere would be up to speed even if they didn't speak the same language as the players. While that may no longer be necessary, it remains a trope of storytelling in the Western art tradition.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 6:41 AM on March 27 [1 favorite]


I'm kinda bummed about how many people took a glance at the article and defaulted to 'Stupid tumblr girl, This is just what Disney does!'
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 6:43 AM on March 27 [1 favorite]


The same face thing is an issue, but for me the real problem is the GIANT EYES on everyone.

wtf? It is totally creepy.
posted by freakazoid at 8:49 AM on March 27 [1 favorite]


'Stupid tumblr girl, This is just what Disney does!'

One thing that happens a lot on tumblr is that, because a lot of their userbase is high school and early college aged, there are a lot of people just noticing certain obvious truisms for the first time. Mostly that sort of thing is just chatter, and you roll your eyes and remember what it was like to be nineteen and outraged at the world. But every once in a while, something like this goes mainstream, and it's really cringeworthy.

The original tumblr piece is something that would have passed as incisive criticism in my college dorm room, or in a course on gender and mass media. Out in the wider world, it's just an example of bad rhetoric, a weak thesis, and beyond that, it seems silly because everyone already knows Disney profits from sexism.
posted by Sara C. at 9:10 AM on March 27 [2 favorites]


Also:

Frozen
For the first time in forever...!

Tangled
I can finally see the light!

Kids. The Lego movie made up for watching those two many times. Frozen has super wicked psychedelic eye candy though and Elsa even sings about fractals. Gorgeous.
posted by lordaych at 3:07 PM on April 1


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