Animated Princess Elena is the new Disney Channel series which has already launched up some controversial discussions after its first episode of “Elena of Avalor”. The series are meant to reflect power – the teenager who reclaimed her tropical kingdom from an evil sorceress. But the line in the first episode has a deliberate double meaning. Disney has created the character of Elena, its first Latina princess.
Nancy Kanter, the Disney executive overseeing the show, said: “It’s not a secret that the Hispanic and Latino communities have been waiting and hoping and looking forward to our introduction of a princess that reflected their culture. We wanted to do it right.” Did they do it right? Is Elena about to run afoul of the princess police?
Walt Disney Company has already earned load of money, but also a huge cultural influence with a dozen of princess characters such as Cinderella and Snow White. Some people love princesses who are pretty and live happily ever after, but there are others who see them as negative image for female stereotypes with unrealistic bodies. Anyway, it has a large cultural impact, considering that most of women even dress like these characters for their weddings, for example.
The another issue would be race and ethnicity, regarding the fact that all those heroines are caricatures, which is the nature of this cartoon style. To remind you, Disney created his first black princess Tiana, in 2009. But this one, “Elena of Avalor” is made as 22 minute episode containing Latin folklore and cultural traditions, all inspired by the Aztec architecture. Episodes will also have original songs that represent musical styles like salsa, mariachi and Latin hip-hop. It is the image of a black haired girl with a gracious pony tail and a flower which is native to Northern Mexico and Southern California.
Ms. Kanter said: “We brought in a whole lot of consultants to advise on everything. We wanted to make sure that she didn’t have a doll-like appearance, and we really wanted to steer clear of romance. She has male friends, as teenage girls obviously do, but we did not want it tinged with, ‘Ooh, they’re falling in love.’” Disney Channel made a debut of this series on July 1, and got the positive reaction so far. The executive director of the National Association of Latino Independent Producers, Axel Caballero said: “We were all very pleasantly surprised at how well the character was conceived,” “This is going to have a great impact.”
But, “Elena of Avalor” has already met some questions of princess parity, starting with following: “Why is Disney introducing her through a television series aimed at children 2 to 11 and not in a full-fledged family movie, like her counterparts?” A co-founder of Revelist, a publication targeted to millennial women, Mandy Velez wrote: “It really seems like a shun.” In the first episode, after the deaths of her dear parents, princess Elena is trying to show to the world that she is ready and capable to be queen, even though she is only 16 at the time.