July 19, 2014
We’ve all heard the two opposing opinions and everything in between about Disney Princesses.
The 1950s’ sentiment: They’re romantic and are simply meant to be cute stories.
The feminist argument: They teach young girls that their entire lives revolve around a man and they should strive to be 20 pounds underweight.
But what about the princes? What do we know about them? From the first prince in Snow White
all the way through Shang (albeit not really a prince) in Mulan
, the leading men in princess movies are completely interchangeable with zero personality. One exception: The Beast, but once he becomes human again, he immediately loses any distinction he once had. Aladdin doesn’t count because he has his own movie as opposed to being the supporting male.
Naveen, Flynn Ryder and Kristoff finally give us some male characters with a bit of flare (even though Flynn and Naveen gravitate toward the typical prince model at the end of their movies). One thing they still share with the other boring princes is their height and stature, which are stereotypically masculine.
Let’s take a fun look at male characters that don’t fit Disney’s ideal masculine physique – the characters that Disney portrays as a bit feminine – the Twerps of Disney. And of course, this stereotype must be teaching little boys and girls that real men have to be tall and fit!
’s Mr. Smee is a lovable dork who wants to do the right thing, but is completely infatuated with Captain Hook. He is intentionally made to be unappealing to women and has zero chance of landing a beauty (not that he wants one).
The next true twerp didn’t grace another movie until Lefou in Beauty and the Beast
. While more conniving than Mr. Smee, his infatuation for the hyper-masculine Gaston is undeniable. Not only does he have zero chance at wooing any woman, he’s willing to roll in the mud for his man.
The first twerp after Dopey to be a good guy was the Sultan in Aladdin
. He’s a complete doofus and is so infatuated with Jafar that he has no idea he’s being controlled by the bad guy. When complaining about Jasmine being too particular in choosing a suitor, he quips, “Her mother wasn’t nearly so picky.” Indeed, there’s no way she could have actually been attracted to such a twerp, is there?
Mr. Smee and Lefou are reborn in Pocahontas
as Wiggins. He is the most flamboyant of all the twerps and seems to solely exist for Governor Ratcliffe. One is left wondering if he would run away in terror if a woman so much as looked at him. Adding a particularly creepy element, David Ogden Stiers of M*A*S*H fame does both his and Ratcliffe’s voices.
Our next twerp is the lovable Quasimodo, better known as the Hunchback of Notre Dame
. For once, the twerp is infatuated with a woman, but alas, the idea that he could actually woo Esmeralda is laughable. In the end, he even succumbs to his twerpiness and concedes Esmeralda to Prince Charming, I mean Prince Eric, I mean Pheobus – the tall masculine hero without any real personality.
The twerpiest twerp of all makes a grand appearance in Mulan
. Chi Fu is not only completely in love with the Emperor, but despises women. Even though the Emperor makes the laws, including the one that punishes women with execution for impersonating a man, Chi Fu takes the blame for all misogyny. When the Emperor decides to kindly break his own law by offering Mulan a position as one of his advisors, Chi Fu faints at losing his man to a woman.
Can Milo of Atlantis
be considered a twerp? Definitely not. He is clearly a nerd, but he is taller than the woman and has an intellectual attractiveness to him, not unlike a certain Bill Gates. He even gets physical and fights the bad guys.
Buddy, AKA Syndrome, is the only twerp to be the main bad guy and actually become powerful enough to challenge the hero. His motivation for becoming evil? Being rejected by the man he has a crush on, of course. He’s also the first twerp to become attractive to a woman, aptly named Mirage, by accumulating wealth and power. When she realizes he’s still obsessed with Mr. Incredible, she betrays him and twerpdom is redeemed by making him unlovable to women.
Lawrence of The Princess and the Frog
is the fourth incarnation of Mr. Smee with a twist. When he tires of his infatuation with Naveen, he falls for the bad guy Dr. Facilier. Even though it disgusts him, he’s willing to marry a woman for his new crush. This ends in disaster as he literally cannot maintain a masculine physique.
Out of the three princes trying to marry Merida in Brave
, Wee Dingwall is the only twerp. When he apparently wins the competition to become Merida’s husband, everyone cringes in sympathy. However, Young Macintosh and Young MacGuffin also do not fit Disney’s ideal masculine stereotype. Disney couldn’t portray any of the princes in a positive light, otherwise Merida would have not been a proper princess in not wanting to get married!
The Duke of Weselton in Frozen
is fairly similar to Chi Fu except that he does not have an obvious infatuation for a man. Although, his two masculine bodyguards are never far off. Unusual for Disney, rather than insulting small men through innuendo like it usually does, it directly ridicules them by referring to the Duke as “sprightly” (or should I say “spritely”) and Anna mocks, “especially for a man in heels”. When he tells Anna he will catch her if she swoons under his dancing charms, we laugh at the idea of such a twerp possibly being attractive.
The only twerp to ever win the woman’s heart is Wall-E. Unfortunately, EVE’s love for him doesn’t really break Disney’s tradition of twerpy men being unattractive because they’re both robots.
What does it all mean?
In the 1950s’ sentiment tradition: Not much. They’re just a bunch of characters in fiction stories.
In the feminist sentiment: A lot. Boys and girls are being taught that only one particular ideal body type and character (or lack of) for men is attractive. In other words, twerps aren’t real men so we can make fun of and ridicule them.
3. Princes with Personality
4. The Twerps of Disney
5. Mr. Smee
10. Chi Fu
14. Wee Dingwall
15. Duke of Weselton
17. Twerpy Conclusion
With my family taking a trip to Disney World this summer, I thought it would be fun to take a quick look at a neglected group of Disney characters: The Twerps.