Disney Introduces Sofia, The First Pre-School Princess
Walt Disney made a calculated push toward young, pre-school males when they reworked its Peter Pan mythology to introduce the swashbuckling animated show Jake and the Neverland Pirates. And if my nearly-four-year-old son is any indication, the move was genius as the program’s a bona-fide hit. Now Disney’s shifting attention to younger girls by introducing its first princess who isn’t an adult character.
Meet Sofia, star of an upcoming TV movie and television series that targets the 2- to 7-year-old demographic of the Disney Channel’s Disney Junior, the New York Times reports. The move isn’t uncommon for Disney programming, which brought a new character named Darby into the Hundred Acre Woods for adventures with classic characters Winnie the Pooh and Tigger for the computer-animated My Friends Tigger & Pooh. Sofia will be introduced in an original movie Sofia the First, which will transition into a regular series.
The move, no doubt, is both fueled by creative and commercial factors. As the Times points out, the Disney Princess line – which includes vintage heroines Snow White and Cinderella, as well as contemporary beauties Tiana and Rapunzel – can generate nearly $4 billion in annual retail sales.
But the introduction of Sofia is not without controversy. Some argue that the Disney Princess line sends the wrong messages to little girls, that life isn’t worth living without a Prince Charming or that existence is defined by royal baubles like jewels, gowns and shoes. In defending the new character, Nancy Kanter, the general manager for Disney Junior Worldwide, actually says that Sofia will have “plenty of pretty dresses and sparkly shoes,” which fuels the fires set by detractors. But she adds that the shows will emphasize that “what makes a real princess is what’s inside, not what’s outside.”
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