- The Washington Times - Monday, December 6, 2004

Princess theory

“The princess has been ubiquitous in pop culture in recent years. Not that she’d ever gone away. The archetype is one of the longest-lived in all of literary history. …

“So, why are young girls so enthralled by princesses? ‘Transformation is at the core of all the princess fairy tales,’ says Maria Tatar, Harvard folklorist. … ‘Young women, often poor … end up with all the power in the end. Little kids, even very young ones, can understand who has the power, and that has always been part of the attraction.’ …

“Disney, she believes, ‘capitalizes on the worst parts of the fairy tales.’ By celebrating the ugly duckling scenario of overnight transformation, she says, most of Disney’s princess tales reinforce the idea of achieving power through fabulous clothing and great wealth. The problem as she sums it up: ‘They don’t work for it.’ …

“Sleeping Beauty is a victim, and as far as I can tell, Snow White’s greatest feat of courage was dusting. And the No. 1 seller in the Princess line — Cinderella — shows a rebellious spirit by disobeying her wicked stepfamily, but essentially gains all her power through the good will of a magical floating Angela Lansbury look-alike. …

“‘Culturally, these stories impress upon girls the importance of beautiful dress and gorgeous good looks,’ says Tatar.”

Christopher Healy, writing on “A nation of little princesses,” Nov. 24 in Salon at www.salon.com

Birthing voters

“The Democrats … may like to think of themselves as the party of working families; but in reality, the exit polls and demographic trends suggest that they are increasingly the party of family dysfunction. …

“[T]he U.S. is one of the only industrialized countries to enjoy an increase in its fertility rate since the 1970s. … Other signs … all point to a strengthening of the American nuclear family. These are welcome developments for our society. But they could spell doom for the Democratic Party. …

“Last month, Democrats swept the largely childless cities — true blue locales like San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, Boston, and Manhattan have the lowest percentages of children in the nation — but generally had poor showings in those places where families are settling down. … Bush won heavy majorities among married people, who constitute roughly 63 percent of the electorate, and those with children, who represent about 40 percent of voters. …

“According to Phillip Longman, a demographer at the New America Foundation, Bush states had a 13 percent higher fertility rate than their blue counterparts, whose base, as he puts it, is essentially ‘non-replicating.’”

Joel Kotkin and William Frey, writing on “Parent Trap,” Thursday in the New Republic Online at www.tnr.com

Ghost endorsements

“Jolly Dave Thomas has returned from beyond to pitch his beloved bacon cheeseburgers. Wendy’s must have focus group data telling them that dear old Dave reminds customers just how deadly good the chain’s burgers truly are.

“And Ford’s gorgeous new Mustang, which mates a 1969 front-end to a 1967 back-end and stuffs it all with 2005 technology, has Steve McQueen resuscitated in response. …

“Celebs do not need ad campaigns to help them reach the masses anymore. … And products in search of fresh, targeted identities do not really want to be associated with celebs whose images might grow stale or head off in ways that conflict with the product’s own buzz of the moment.”

Jeff Taylor, writing on “Dead Men Hawk Some Wares,” Dec. 1 in Reason Online at www.reason.com

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