Thursday, May 13, 2010

Grrrl Power in Disney's Prince of Persia

Later this month, Disney is releasing the film Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, based on the similarly named adventure video game series. When I saw the trailer, I noticed that it looks as if the main female character, Princess Tamina, has been turned into an action girl. She can be seen wielding a sword and fighting with it. It's interesting to contrast her role with those of women in the Prince of Persia video games.

In the game in which the movie appears to have been based, the eponymous Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, there was a female protagonist (Farah) who followed the Prince, but she was an archer. Also, in the 2008 reboot, simply titled Prince of Persia, there was a woman (Elika) who accompanied the Prince, but she was a magic-user, not a warrior. Both of them essentially ended up as damsels in distress, though not in the traditional manner.

Evidentally, Disney decided that female archers and mages don't have enough "grrrl power" so they turned her into a warrior. I'm not really surprised, since Disney has made a habit out of making anachronistic "empowered woman" characters, such as in Pirates of the Carribean and Alice and Wonderland. And in modern film and TV, writers are not creative enough to demonstrate a woman's empowerment besides having them kill one or more men in physical combat.

Also, in the video game and its sequels, there were female villains and generic enemies - corrupted harem concubines and sorceresses, among others. Somehow, I doubt that there will be any female enemies in the film. Female enemies are ubiquitous in video games, but are nonexistent in action and adventure movies.

Remember, according to Hollywood, even though female-on-male violence is "empowering" and "kick-ass," male-on-female violence is "abusive" and "misgynistic." And in Hollywood, if one woman dies it's a tragedy (unless an Action Girl kills her), but if a dozen men die it's entertainment. Disney in particular has been promoting both of those (look at Pirates of the Carribean for plenty of examples).

On the good side, it looks as if Disney is depicting the Persians as white, unlike in other films such as Alexander where the Iranian wife of Alexander the Great was played by a mulatto and in 300 where they were a motley assortment of dark-skinned peoples.


  1. Re: Grrrl power in Prince. Yawn. SSDD. Wish Hollywood would wise up and get some new material.

    "Disney is depicting the Persians as white,"

    But they weren't white, were they? Causasoid, yes, white (in the northern European sense) no.

  2. A lot of Persians have fair skin and many aren't much darker than a Greek or other Mediterranean, so that's why I consider them to be white.

    Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has olive skin, but he looks whiter than a guido.

  3. One movie that broke the "violence against women is eevil" mold - Die Hard 4. And she was Asian too.