Tangled is my personal favorite out of all Disney Princess films, for a few reasons, but I will discuss what is problematic about it as well.
There are 0 PoC in this whole film.
There is a charismatic chameleon, but not PoC. I know a lot of people like to try to “debunk” the missing PoC in Disney due to some twisted and ignorant form of “historical accuracy” but let’s be real here. There is a chameleon that talks but no PoC. The absurd “historical accuracy” argument in regards to this film is junk.
A really cool aspect to this film is how it deals with toxic relationships and emotional abuse. Rapunzel’s relationship with Mother Gothel is the epitome of a toxic relationship. Gothel never actually wants to protect Rapunzel, she just wants to retain eternal youth and hold Rapunzel’s magic hair captive. Not to mention, Gothel STOLE RAPUNZEL FROM HER CRIB IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT. Talk about a parent’s worst nightmare.
Gothel makes Rapunzel feel like she’s not good enough for anyone to love her. That staying trapped in the tower and being used by Gothel is as good as life is going to get for Rapunzel. I believe that the tower is a metaphor for the way abused victims feel while in an abusive relationship. You’re under a certain fog. The real world seems surreal and scary. You feel worthless. And all the while I was watching Tangled, I saw myself in Rapunzel.
The really cool thing about Tangled is that it breaks barriers on abusive relationships. While a lot of people think of abuse as something that happens in intimate relationships, it also happens in parent-child relationships. It’s always important to remember that. Also in this instance a woman is the abuser. While abuse IS a gendered issue, and 9 out of 10 times the abuser is a man, women can exert abusive behaviors as well.
Here is a power and control wheel, designed by the National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence. Mother Gothel exerts many of the behaviors on this wheel in her relationship with Rapunzel.
Watch Gothel’s big musical number in relation to the power and control wheel. You’ll understand where I’m coming from. Seeing myself represented in this film was a major step in my recovery from a abusive parental relationship that I had. Representation in media and discussion of tough topics is so extremely important.
Feminist rating: 9/10
Passes Bechdel Test
Fails Racial Bechdel Test