Culture Clips: The Influence of the ‘Princess Industrial Complex’

If you haven’t noticed, there are princesses everywhere these days. Disney princesses, that is. There’s the classic trio (Aurora, Cinderella and Snow White), the so-called Disney Renaissance princesses (Ariel, Belle, Jasmine, Pocahontas and Mulan). Then we have the millennial members of this hallowed animated court: Tiana, Rapunzel, Merida, Anna, Elsa and Moana.

That’s a lot of royalty.

Peggy Orenstein, author of the 2011 book Cinderella Ate My Daughter, dubs it the “princess industrial complex.” In a new interview with USA Today, Orenstein said that this ever-expanding princess culture contributes to girls’ “self-objectification” and “self-sexualization” later on in their lives—an assertion that new research (also summarized in USA Today) seems to reinforce. Orenstein says that princess culture primes young girls for “the next phase, which is what I call the Kardashianization of girlhood.”

In a separate article for the fashion website Women’s Wear Daily, writer Rachel Strugatz connects a similar set of dots, albeit with a different group of influential real-life “princesses”: the Kardashian women. Strugatz suggests that Millennials and Boomers (GenXers were curiously absent from her assessment) chasing that famous family’s features have contributed to an “explosion in the popularity of noninvasive cosmetic procedures.”

But while some Millennials may be focused on their looks more than ever, their attitudes toward marriage as a generational whole are as blasé as ever, says Bloomberg contributor Ben Steverman in his article, “Young Americans Are Killing Marriage.”

One factor correlating with lower rates of marriage among Millennials is cohabitation, which has increasingly been viewed as a substitute for matrimony or as a stepping stone to it. But despite more favorable cultural views on living together sans wedding vows, University of Virginia sociology professor Bradford Wilcox recently released a study that shows cohabitating couples (in the United States as well as 16 European countries) provide a much less stable environment for raising children.

In an extensive interview with Christianity Today, Wilcox summarized his research findings: “In the vast majority of countries that we looked at in Europe, at all education levels, people who are married when they have kids are markedly more stable than people who are cohabiting when they have their kids. Generally speaking, the least educated married families in Europe enjoy more stability than the most educated cohabiting families. That’s not what I would have guessed. … We looked at changes in cohabitation levels and family stability across the globe and found in general that as cohabitation increased, the odds that kids would be living with two biological parents in a given country decreased over time.”

Elsewhere in the news this week, Fox News reports that Carl’s Jr. will no longer be running risqué commercials featuring models and celebrities in bikinis.

Google, meanwhile, is trying to teach its AI software to recognize offensive content. Elsewhere in the same New York Times article, writer Daisuke Wakabayashi notes that YouTube users now watch a staggering billion hours of content on the video site each day. Likewise, the total number of videos archived on YouTube is also estimated to be around a billion, with about 400 hours of new content being uploaded every minute.

But as big as those numbers are, some are wondering if another tech company, online retail juggernaut Amazon, will become the first company with a market valuation of a cool trillion dollars. Though the Seattle-based company’s market valuation currently trails tech icons Apple, Google and Microsoft, some business experts believe that Amazon has more potential for significant growth and could outpace everyone in the race to trillion-dollar market capitalization.

In contrast, another well-known brand’s sales are sagging a bit these days: Marvel Comics. The company’s vice president of sales, David Gabriel, thinks that the recent decline is due to Marvel’s attempts to increase diversity in its comics, including a female Thor, a biracial Spider-Man and a Muslim teenage girl as Ms. Marvel.

Gabriel told icv2.com, “What we heard was that people didn’t want any more diversity. They didn’t want female characters out there. That’s what we heard, whether we believe that or not.  I don’t know that that’s really true, but that’s what we saw in sales. We saw the sales of any character that was diverse, any character that was new, our female characters, anything that was not a core Marvel character, people were turning their nose up against.”

Several video game stories popped up this week, too. For adults of a certain age who fondly remember the arcades of their youth, there’s a renaissance of sorts pairing vintage games and microbrew beers in establishments that have been dubbed barcades. And speaking of vintage games, new research indicates that playing the classic game Tetris, of all things, can reduce flashbacks for those involved in traumatic events if victims play the game within six hours of the incident. (Seriously, you can’t make this stuff up.)

Finally, another new study suggests that video games aren’t addictive, even as the site virtual-addiction.com gives folks a list of behaviors to watch for if you think you or someone you know might be addicted to the internet.

Who wrote this?

Adam R. Holz is a senior associate editor for Plugged In. He also writes for Focus on the Family’s Clubhouse magazine and has been a Boundless contributor. In his free time (which there is sometimes precious little of) Adam enjoys playing guitar and constructing LEGO kits with his son. Adam and his wife, Jennifer, are the proud parents, in fact, of three children, one boy and two girls.

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