• Tue, Feb 7 2012

Dead Disney Princesses By Thomas Czarnecki Are Eroticized — Not Critiqued

13the-little-mermaid-2Re-imagining the fate and implications of Disney Princesses has never been so popular as for every artist who tries to square the values that they impart to girls with real life, others try to make them empowering figures. But Parisian artist Thomas Czarnecki has taken his Disney Princess-themed work in a different direction and depicted the Princesses in their untimely deaths — and I’m not certain there is much critique at all.

Czarnecki doesn’t necessarily pull from just the Princesses in his collection “From Enchantment To Down,” as we’re still met with the likes of Alice in Wonderland and Little Red Riding Hood. But among these corpses are the standard six: Cinderella, Ariel, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, Belle, and Jasmine. And all the two-dimensional ladies have been transformed into full-fledged women who have been violently murdered, ominous titles suggesting the cause.

Alice has been bound and tied to a chair in some deep dark underground. Sleeping Beauty lays sprawled out on a mattress looking like the victim of sexual assault or a drug overdose — perhaps both.  And Ariel, in maybe the most disturbing retelling, lies nude and dead wrapped in plastic wrap on a beach.

With obscured faces and sometimes missing high heels, these Princesses are frightening to behold primarily because they’re media-infused ideals for women and girls that have encountered the real risks that girls and women constantly face: kidnapping, murder, rape, etc.  I suppose there is also the interpretation that all women and girls are “princesses” in our culture given how we raise them, and so these Disney-esque interpretations remind us that the victims are all somebody’s “princess.”

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But although the artist may be criticizing how we raise girls or what they’re told to value, I personally find the depictions to be much too akin to the glamorization of dead or abused women that keeps resurfacing here and there. Heather Morris may have tried to make domestic abuse seem sexy, but everything from Kanye West‘s “Monster” video to Lindsay Lohan‘s sultry poses in blood-doused lingerie also seek to make a lifeless woman seem erotic. And whatever the artist may be trying to tell us, his arresting images seem to be relying very heavily on that “sexy dead woman” trope rather than criticisms of princess culture to provoke the onlooker. And that means all the difference in the case of our daughters.

(photo: thomasczarnecki.com)

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  • Cee

    Critique of girly things is one thing but basically saying” if you like Disney princesses you’re going to be murdered” is kind of a WEE bit extreme.

    • Marissa

      I agree, I am all for stepping away from the “disney princess” culture, but this is a bit disturbing…. I wonder if it would have received any praise at all if the artist had used little girls? Just food for thought… thank you for this article!

  • Abigail

    If the link you provided to the artist website is correct, you have the name wrong for the collection. The website connects you to “From Enchantment to Down”, not Doom.

    • Koa Beck

      Thanks so much for catching Abigail!

  • Just Me

    The most disturbing thing to me was the poor dead rabbit.

  • Guelette

    I actually found the Pocahontas one far more disturbing. Male ownership over Native American women, anyone/.

  • Danielle

    To be honest, I was less disturbed by the dead princess idea than I was at the lack of imagination on how they died. Maybe I am just a bit morbid, but the only shot that was at all interesting was the Ariel one, which was a clear rip off of Twin Peaks (“wrapped in plastic”). Deaths that were perhaps related to the story lines might have made a more clever shoot. But as it was, every girl was simply face down and the clear victim of a sex crime. Do all princess die of sex crimes and violence? None die from an od on pills, complications from anorexia, a wolf eating them? No? Just sex crimes? I just saw, over and over again, the same shot just a different costume. I feel like I am having to critique a teenagers portfolio for college classes.

    • Jules

      I agree completely. I thought they were a bit boring and after you’ve seen one (for the most part) you’ve seen them all.

  • Salvar

    Is she really wrapped in plastic? It just looks like a fish tail to me.

    On the other hand, if he had her stuck in some soda can rings, that would be pretty clever. :P

  • Maíra

    great text! I could imagine nothing but a cruel and misogynist sense of humour…not that the photos aren’t good (I don’t even understand photography enough to say so), but they’re pretty morbid for me.

  • Sheri

    I find the Pocahontas picture highley disturbing, she id the only victim to be seen with an “other” in her picture. The fact that she is implied to be a trophy like an animal is disgusting, all of these pictures are. Using Disney Princess’s images to speak out against violence against women could have been done well but this collection of photo’s seems more like a sick mans fetish than an outcry. God forbid any child should see these and be distraught over them. This could have been done in a far more powerful way without being so horrific and sick.