I know full well and good, Chelsea Fagan is Thought Catalog’s resident Disney expert. She’s a flawless analyst of all things Disney-fied. And she’s without a doubt one of the funniest writers on Earth. Now, I’d never be so beef-headed that I might consider my words ever approaching her genius in either of these particular arenas- comedy or Disney. But if you’ll be so kind as to indulge me, I thought I’d stumble about and consider the Disney princes… from a guy’s perspective.
Some of us boys were watching those same celluloid dreamboats but we didn’t wonder which prince we wanted to spend our future happiness with, instead we asked ourselves which one we wanted to be. Why? In my case, I have a little sister and when she had sleepovers I noticed the way her friends were fawning over the princes. And naturally, I thought, “Okay, if that’s the kind of dude I need to be like… Which one should I pick for my role model?”
My little sister owned every Disney film ever made. Animated and live action. Which means I grew up watching every Disney film ever made. I can sing all the songs. I don’t care what anyone thinks. It’s not like I go around belting them out all the live-long-day. For instance, let’s say, I hear the word Aladdin, for the next few hours, I’ll be walking around singing to myself (in my head), “Prince Ali… mighty is he… Ali Ababwa… “
Right now, I bet you hear the song in your head, too. Don’t you? Guy or girl, it doesn’t matter. You’re welcome for that earworm, by the way. You’re probably gonna find yourself humming it in the elevator.
That’s how Disney’s relentless magic works. It gets under your skin like Communist propaganda. My only crime was I liked hanging out with my sister and watching movies. We didn’t always watch ones I picked… so now as a result, I have that infectious Disney magic permanently shaping how I think. Over time, Disney princes will mess you up worse than a bad speed habit. They’ll get you doing dumb shit like believing in true love. Luckily, I don’t run into too many singing animals because I’d probably take their advice. Those dudes of Disney definitely ruin your expectations the same as the princesses do. I’d say it’s a little worse, because really… who would you rather be?
The beautiful and talented Ariel? …Or Prince Eric’s dumb ass?
No dude can afford to be as simple-minded and easy to fool as those Disney princes. And yeah, I’m looking at you, Prince Eric. We all absorbed lessons from those dudes… kinda like lead poisoning. We’re just so young and impressionable when we meet them. There I was, a little brown boy digging on Disney movies, singing along just like my sister, and even though none of the princes looked remotely like me, it didn’t matter, I still totally identified with them. And now, years later, I have to work to undo the damage done by that early exposure. But there must be some positive lessons one can salvage from a childhood spent with the dudes of Disney. Right?
1. Prince Charming (from Cinderella):
This guy is kinda the quintessential softheaded Disney dude. The great lesson one takes away from Prince Charming is… Don’t be a dumbass! Recognize the love of your life when she’s right in front of you. That way you won’t have to search the kingdom high and low just to find her again. We don’t all get gifted with such a convenient clue as a glass slipper. IRL you probably won’t be so lucky. Women rarely leave delicate footwear behind so you can identify the lady you love. It’s best to pay attention. Keep your head on a swivel. Doesn’t matter if you’re standing in line at a 7-11 or waiting for a beer during the 7th inning stretch at a baseball game. You never know when you might meet the woman who’s meant for you. So pay attention.
2. Prince Phillip (from Sleeping Beauty):
Okay, this dude sees a beautiful young woman singing in the forest, they share a dance, but wouldn’t you know it — she runs away. In typical prince style he searches for her, but faster than you can say Angelina Jolie, her fairy protectors take her back home to be a princess. Turns out she was in hiding to avoid a curse. You gotta hand it to Prince Phil because he shows a young boy how sometimes you have to stand up against your family to be with the woman you love… and that’s not all, you may even have to fight to the death against some badass fire-breathing dragon-witch just to win the chance to be with the woman you love. Basically… Stop at nothing and be a true-heart badass!
3. Prince Eric (from the Little Mermaid):
Now, here’s another riff on the timeless theme… Don’t be a dumbass! Once again, you have a good-looking, yet thick-headed guy. He can’t tell true love from cheap imitation trickery. This is the kinda guy who thinks strippers and gold-diggers really like him… so he marries one. Watching this one as a kid, it was hard to believe how easy it was to trick Eric’s dumbass. The great takeaway is… Don’t be fooled by some imitation of the woman you desire. Just because she can’t tell you who she is, sometimes it’s up to you see it in her eyes, or in the way she treats you. There will be times when a woman loves you but for whatever reason she can’t just come out and say it. Which means, you’ll have to feel it and trust your gut. And dear god, don’t be fooled by some evil-ass witch who just resembles who you’re looking for.
4. Aladdin (from Aladdin):
With the bad boy of the bazaar the issue of class becomes critical. There may come a time when you fall in love with a princess, a woman you don’t think you can get. Well, take it from the lessons of Aladdin… Don’t be afraid to show her who you really are. Likely as not she sees and knows who you really are anyway. Women aren’t easily tricked. So don’t pretend to be someone you’re not. If you try to pull some phony shit, you’re only fooling yourself. And her rich and powerful father may like you despite the fact you go shirtless like a Bonnaroo hippie, but none of that matters if you don’t think you’re good enough for her. As long as she loves you, you don’t need Robin Williams to help you win her heart, you just need to believe in yourself. It’s a classic example of… You gotta do you!
5. Prince (from Snow White):
Again, a dude hears a beautiful young woman singing, this time it’s in the courtyard of his castle where she’s working. He tries to approach her, but she runs away. Pretty standard fare. A good woman won’t always make it easy or make herself readily available. Fate may step in and some bad bitch with epic insecurity issues will try to ice the woman you love because she can’t stand the competition. In this case, a hunter gets sent to kill her. Luckily, he takes pity on her and sets her free. So then she hangs out with some industrious little people. You can’t count on big-hearted killers and hard-working little people to help give you a second chance. Now, if say, some blue-collar little people do end up helping you out and you get that lucky, make sure you’re wise enough to go with the flow of the universe and accept what’s offered. Most importantly… Be damn sure you don’t show up late to your date… because sometimes all it takes is a kiss to seal the deal. But if you dilly-dally you’ll miss any chance for love.
6. The Beast (from Beauty and the Beast):
Here’s another classic problem a number of men suffer from- being an asshole who shuts himself away because he thinks he is, or in this case actually is, cursed. I don’t know why guys have this tendency but we do. So if you’re the brooding, or self-pitying type, if you seal yourself off from love, take heed of the lessons of the Beast. IRL you probably won’t be so lucky to have some intelligent, bookish and beautiful woman come along and exchange her freedom for her father’s, allowing you the chance to see what a jerk you’ve been. But let’s just say, circumstances in your life coincide so that a woman, perhaps a neighbor, or someone you work with, shows you the error in your selfish ways and she teaches you to not to be so proud and self-destructive. Then it’s up to you to remember the lesson of the Beast… Show her the real you… and open up to love! Let’s face it, you will not have a singing tea kettle and smooth-talking French candlestick to give you pep talks… so if you meet a woman who sees past your looks, and your beastly behavior and senses the gentleman you are and can be… that’s a rare and valuable opportunity… don’t be a self-obsessed jerk. Embrace the grace of love and the rare collision of circumstances and get over yourself.
7. John Smith (from Pocahontas):
This one speaks to international and cross-cultural love affairs. When you find a girl from a foreign culture and she awakens the love inside your heart, you better be brave enough to stand up to your cultural traditions and really imagine a world together. And maybe, you’ll have to swallow a little of your pride because she saves your dumbass from dying. I guess, you could say this is also an interesting metaphor for dudes with addiction issues, histories of substance abuse and/or self-destructive tendencies. Basically, this dude moved out of his comfort zone and found love. If this happens to you… be brave enough to step all the way out of your comfort zone and embrace the love you find.
8. Simba (from The Lion King):
Lastly, we’ll leave humanity behind and check out some lessons learned from a dude in the animal kingdom. Let’s say your dad’s some hardcore badass and you don’t think your head will ever be able to fill his crown… Well, ain’t that some self-defeating shit? We don’t all get so lucky that we get to take some time off and hang out with a pair of knockabout hippie wanderers. Sure they have a point… Hakuna Matata! Don’t get hung up on the bullshit of life. But that lesson will only take you so far. That’s good for when you’re young and you need to find your way in the world. Friends can help you learn to relax and enjoy life. Then along comes a woman and she reminds you who you are and what your true nature is… That’s when your dumb ass better wise up and learn to see the rest of the picture. You better not listen to any of your asshole family members and reject your responsibilities just because they saddle you with some guilt or shame. If and when you meet that unique woman, maybe she was once special to you back in the day, and she reminds you of your destiny… Have the courage to answer the call… and become the man you need to be!
So there you go… a few helpful lessons from the dudes of Disney to help you make sense of your travels on the path to love.