I don’t care if you think you’re the manliest guy around: everyone has a favorite Disney princess! Today, starshine and I sat down to discuss which princess is better: the fiery Jasmine or the bookish Belle?
Silverwolf: Hello all, silverwolf here to answer the age old question: who is the better Disney Princess, Jasmine or Belle. I’ll be on the Belle side
Starshine: And I will be on Jasmine’s side!
Silverwolf: Sweet, let’s get to it! I guess we can start with their characteristics. I have to say, what always drew me to Belle was just how determined she is despite everything she watches her father tormented all his life and suffers torment herself for her desire to, you know, be an educated woman in 17th century France, but even so she stays strong, she even is willing to undergo the ordeal of living with a monster!
Starshine: Those are a lot of the same qualities I see in Jasmine: independence, strength, determination. But the main difference I think is what you called “educated.” I think Belle (at least at the beginning) represents the worst of the backwater academic: a condescending attitude and snobbery. I knew kids like that in my hometown – stuck up, thought they were so above it all, and just overall insufferable.
Silverwolf: Hm…I wouldn’t call her snobbish: she’s fairly willing to help out others and pretty much is only rude to Gaston who, admittedly, objectifies her quite a bit. If that’s your criterion, Jasmine isn’t exactly free either: when she first meets Aladdin she looks down on him a lot because of his outward appearance; don’t forget she is a child of privilege, after all. Also, in my opinion, Belle is lot more supportive of her father as opposed to Jasmine who, rather than trying to explain her desire to choose her own husband, just rages at her dad despite his worries about her future.
Starshine: I mean, Belle’s dad is barely even aware of what his daughter does, it seems like the power dynamic in that family is her taking care of him as a surrogate wife while being his daughter. He’s always working on stuff, and he’s proven in the movie to be pretty spacey. And Jasmine is a child of privilege who at least goes out into the world she doesn’t know and experiences it. I feel like Belle couldn’t give two shits about the world – she wants some idyllic “somewhere else” that doesn’t exist. And Jasmine rejects her privilege, and let’s be honest, if you were a young woman, wandering the streets for the first time, and some random guy comes out of nowhere, saves you, and then drags you away, I would be suspect too, especially someone who could be, you know, crazy.
Silverwolf: Point taken, though I feel like she still judges him harshly for awhile thereafter. In response to Belle’s “ideal” place, I’d say that her situation is similar to Jasmine’s: Belle DOES want to explore the world, she just feels she can’t because of the position of women in her society. Just for reading books she’s treated like an abnormality, so going off on a wild adventure would definitely be looked down upon. I mean, of course, she does end up having this wild adventure and, in my opinion, does the most bad ass princess move in history by battling a pack of wolves by herself! Sure, the Beast does save her, but rather than cry and fall to her knees (cough cough cough SNOW WHITE) she tries to defend herself despite having no training or experience with such things. Maybe I’m forgetting Aladdin, but I feel like Jasmine didn’t do anything nearly that epic.
Starshine: HOLD ON! Fenrir stole my keyboard! (Moarpowah fact of the day: Starshine and fenrir are roommates)
Silverwolf: What the…? Post jacking? That’s a big crime here on Moar Powah…but anyway, let’s get back to the debate.
Starshine: Back to the point: the consequences in Belle’s world and Jasmine’s are totally different. In 17th Century France no one is going to burn you as a witch if you go live out in the woods. Worst comes to worst, you become a hermit and never get married, and maybe have a hard time bartering for supplies. In Jasmine’s world, she’d be killed for half the shit Belle does! And come on, she leaves the palace, the only world she’s ever known, walks around in a society where women are less than appreciated, but she still holds her on in a conversation with Aladdin. Also, she defies her father in a time when that too was punishable by death, has to try and seduce Jafar which is a gold medal in my book, and she even tries to fight her way out of a giant glass sand-turner. Also, we all know Snow White sucks. Thats why we never speak of her silly-13 year old-ness. Honestly, if anything, I’d argue Jasmine’s way braver.
Silverwolf: Really? I feel like Belle’s pretty darn brave.
Starshine: Again, different society, different consequences.
Silverwolf: She risks her life to save her father, committing to life with a giant furry monster and his magical inanimate object slaves!
Starshine: And not she’s not brave, just not as brave as Jasmine. And yet, the deal gets her the hell out of her “village full of little people,” though it could be swapping one prison for another.
Silverwolf: Yes, but it’s still not a preferable deal. Belle can’t see her father, or her horse and, even though the Beast had a kickass library and she made friends with all his servants, she didn’t know any of that beforehand. Honestly, she DID get a good deal, but there’s no way she knew that when she agreed to it. Also, the Beast practically forces her to come to dinner with him, saying she can’t eat otherwise: if Mrs. Potts had listened, Belle would’ve had to choose discomfort or starvation!
Starshine: One…why does the horse matter? He gets like…2 minutes of screen time? (laughs) And I hold, discomfort is better than death! Again, Jasmine’s only saved cause she’s in a Disney movie. Women of her era got married by force in or out of a royal family. Her father could disown her, have her killed, which for that time was as bad as it could get. Belle may have had her prison, but she could escape (and doom her father, but you know, she could be selfish about it) but Jasmine was born and bred in her prison – she doesn’t get the chance to leave save for that one time she snuck out. And at the end, nothing changes, she still is bound by the rules of royalty and society.
Silverwolf: Hm…but is that bravery or selfishness?
Starshine: Belle gets to be book smart AND get her prince AND live awesomely!
Silverwolf: And also, Jasmine doesn’t develop as much as a character compared to Belle. Jasmine is, in my opinion, almost the same person at the end of the film, maybe a bit less self-centered.
Starshine: Maybe cause she’s already awesome to start !
Silverwolf: But Belle learns to not judge a book by its cover, not just for the Beast but for Lumiere, Cogsworth, Mrs. Potts, etc. She also finds more inner strength and tenacity.
Starshine: And what was wrong with her in the first place that she had to learn anything? Belle had the lessons to learn!
Silverwolf: So did Jasmine! Jasmine was selfish at the start and at the end she still is somewhat.
Starshine: Jasmine was witty, strong, defiant, believed in being her own person, living in the now, and fighting for what she believed. How was she selfish? Cause she didn’t want to be married?
Silverwolf: Rather than try to explain it to her father rationally, Jasmine just rages rather hard. Maybe he wouldn’t understand, but in my opinion she didn’t even really try. And the reason he wanted her to marry was for her safety: he noted he’s old and won’t be around to take care of her much longer. Yes, she could probably take care of herself, but it’s natural for a parent to want to be sure for their child.
Starshine: Well, you don’t know you don’t if she already did that – when we enter the film, they are in the process of looking at princes. She even says she’s already told him she won’t marry for power in the scene in the garden after the huge rage-fest.
Silverwolf: But I feel she’s still rather rude to her father who tries his best to take care of her. The Sultan isn’t that smart, after all, but he has a big heart.
Starshine: And while he might have her best interests in mind, women in his society had no power. If she married some random power hungry prince she would have no rights against him. If he wanted to combine their kingdoms, or tax Agraba to death, he could and she would have no say about it. He could kill her and it wouldn’t be illegal. And who wants to be married to someone you don’t like or have anything in common with? It’s a death-til-us-part deal. And I know there’s plenty of times I have been at the end of the rope with my parents and had a hissy-fit, I think many people do, and so without knowing what came before, we can’t say whether or not she’s “rude” all around.
Silverwolf: Hm…I guess you do have a point. Even so, I like that Belle is willing to talk with her father about her problems rather than just throw fits. If nothing else, I feel like Belle is more mature.
Starshine: She’s still some awful breed of backwater academic snobshe might GET more mature in the end but she doesn’t start off that way.
Silverwolf: Exactly! And that’s why she’s more interesting. Interesting characters change over the course of a story.
Starshine: She wasn’t all that interesting to me. It’s like her character development for me goes like this: “OHMAHGAWD ALL THESE SMALL MINDED PEOPLE” “OHMAGAWD YOU ARE A BEAST! I WILL NOT SUFFER THE INDIGNITY OF EATING WITH YOU EVEN THOUGH YOU SPARED MY DAD AND GAVE ME A BED INSTEAD OF THE DUNGEON” and then “Oh…I’m over my issues. I SHALL BE THE CLICHE HEROINE AND LOVE AND DEFND YOU CAUSE I HAVE LEARNED I WAS BEING SUPERFICIAL!”
Silverwolf: I think you’re simplifying her a bit much, but I do see your point. In my eyes, Belle grows from someone who thinks she’s knowledgeable about the world and people into someone who truly IS knowledgeable about those things.
Starshine: And in my eyes, Jasmine goes from being a smart, intelligent, and resourceful women who took the steps she could to get what she wanted, learned to open herself up, and got what she was after – someone who loved her for who she was, and who she could love and respect too.
Silverwolf: Hm…well it seems we’ll have to agree to disagree (huzzah for cliches!)
Starshine: No let us agree: Snow White being 13 years old is majorly creepy and that all the Disney princess outrank her.
Silverwolf: OK agreed.
Silverwolf: The moral of the story: 90s Princesses are the best and always will be.
Silverwolf: Well, that’s all we have for you today, tune in next week for another exciting round of OBJECTION!
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