New research has revealed that Disney Princesses have less dialogue than male characters in their films.
Research published in the Washington Post by linguists Carmen Fought and Karen Eisenhauer has shown that despite having female-leads, on average men have three times as many lines as women.
Focusing on the films in the Princess Franchise, they found 68 per cent of dialogue in the The Little Mermaid comes from male characters; 71% in Beauty and the Beast; 76% in Pocahontas, 77% in Mulan. In Aladdin, the lead role is male so the speaking roles for women amount to measly 10%.
The real shocker is that women are better represented in Disney films made during the 1930s and 50s.
In the classic Disney Princess trio of Snow White (1937), Cinderella (1950) and Sleeping Beauty (1959) women speak more than 50 per cent of the dialogue. Sleeping Beauty has a whopping 71% of the dialogue spoken by women.
Researchers have found an explanation for why the modern films have such dismal results. The 1989 release of the Little Mermaid was the introduction of the Broadway musical style Disney film, that often features large ensemble casts. Often the side-kick or ensemble roles are male. Fought explains; “There’s one isolated princess trying to get someone to marry her, but there are no women doing any other things.”
Newer films Brave (2012) and Tangled (2010) break the mould with more dialogue being spoken by women. Shockingly, Frozen (2013) didn’t sustain the trend with 59% of the dialogue being spoken by men.
The research aims to look at how Disney influences the young girls who watch these movies, often on constant repeat. While the modern films seem like a step backwards in terms of gender equality, they have found that in the modern films women characters are more likely to be complimented on their skills than simply their looks.