The Great Disney Princess Poll

Across the last couple of weeks, I’ve been using the power of Twitter polls to scientifically prove beyond all doubt which Disney Princess is the best of them all. Spoiler alert: it’s Rapunzel…

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My methodology for this highly important poll was utterly and hopelessly unscientific, which is a bit of a problem when you’re scientifically proving something beyond all doubt. First, I stuck up a poll about the best Renaissance Princess. That was quite fun, I thought, so then I did another one about the best Modern Princess. Also fun, so I did a third one, this time focusing on Classic Princesses. “Hey,” I figured. “There’s a chance here for a tournament.” So I made up some Princesses to complete a round of Quarter Finals, and the tournament was set!

Science is fun!

Check out this staggering act of scientific genius in full below…

Ok, yes, this was the worst act of sciencing ever, and I wish I’d had it all mapped out in my head before starting. I pretty much saw it as an individual poll when I started that first one; no follow-ups, no tournament. Just a one-off. If I were to do it again, I’d split the Princesses into batches of two, rather than four, and go from there. I’d probably randomise them, pitting different generations against each other, rather than keeping the eras together in groups. But hey, science is hard, and I got, I think, a C in it at CGSE. So screw it!

The results are genuinely interesting, I think, particularly the popularity of Mulan. Sure she’s a great character, but when we think of the Renaissance period, we generally tend to think of Ariel, Belle, or Jasmine. Mulan’s generally overlooked. But the years have been kind to her, and maybe there’s a good reason for that, as brilliantly articulated by Cat Lester, a PhD student who I follow on Twitter and who has written brilliantly on Frozen.

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This makes total sense and the forthcoming live action remake will be fascinating to follow when viewed through the prism of social development since 1998. Mulan, it seems, was ahead of her time and now that the rest of the world has caught up, she’s finally getting the due she deserves.

The other surprise was the early elimination of Anna and Elsa, and this is where my decision-making really falls down. Had I thought about it more clearly, I’d have split the Sisters of Arendelle up, ensuring that the popularity/unpopularity of one didn’t affect judgement of the other. three of the Sisters Switch rightly pointed out that this could have been a major contributing factor.

I wonder what would have happened had I split them up and divided the tournament into several smaller polls? I also wonder what the results would have been had younger kids been voting on it. Rapunzel seems to fly well with teens and early 20-somethings, perhaps because her “when will my life begin” refrain chimes with an age group that’s starting to fly solo itself. They can obviously relate to Elsa too, but ‘Let It Go’ has become such a sing along anthem, and that sparkly gown such a dress-up favourite, that she seems a favourite of the young in a way she simply isn’t with teens and young adults.

Either way, Rapunzel’s progress to the final didn’t surprise me as she’s a great character; indeed, I personally favour her over Mulan, so part of me was pleased to see her take the crown. But, I was quietly willing Mulan on, if I’m honest. Her success was so unexpected and so significant that it felt right that she should win. More than that, it would have put paid to the nonsense that Princesses are all weak, passive waifs who offer nothing to society and are bad role models for young girls.

Alas, it wasn’t to be, but it hardly diminishes the significance of Mulan, or the Princesses as a whole. My poll may have been the least scientifically sound thing in the history of science, but it underlined what I wanted it to underline: that the Princesses are cool, popular, and relevant. Long may they reign.

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