Wednesday, August 12, 2009

They all look the same to me

It is said that people from one ethnic group cannot tell members of another apart. There does seem to be a grain of truth in that, though if people really say they can't tell two different people apart (assuming they're not identical twins) it seems to me that they're really not trying that hard. Anyway, before this post becomes something serious, let me get onto the not-that-serious point of this post and the reason I started down this dangerous little side track. This is that I have recently become aware of a certain group of (sort-of) people which I cannot tell apart.

My daughter, Paula, is a princess. Obviously as a doting father I sort of think this anyway, but this statement comes not from me but from her. She tells me, and anyone else who is paying attention, on numerous occasions every day. She also is a big fan of other princesses. And so, on my recent trip I brought back a Disney princess memory card game (the kind of game that we used to call pelmanism until that word was co-opted to refer to prejudice against Pelmans). In this game, there are pictures of many princesses from Disney films over the years. The definition appears quite flexible, so a character could have started the film a princess and remained as one, or the character could have started the film a humble woman who lived in a menage-a-huit with a bunch of dwarves, or a mermaid or what-have-you, but finished it shacked up with a prince.

The thing is, I get absolutely trounced in this game every time. Partly this is because my short-term memory is shot to pieces through age and youthful indiscretion, partly because Paula, despite the limited attention span of a three-and-a-half-year old, seems to have the recall skills of a small, blonde, cute elephant, but mostly (I contend) because all these bloody princesses look exactly the bloody same. You pick up one card and it features some indeterminate blonde-haired pink-clothed princess. "Aha", you think to yourself, "I've seen this before", and pick up another card bearing a similar, but crucially in the context of the game, not exactly the same, image. Every time.

To be honest, there are one or two of them which I can tell from the others, but these are the one or two princesses from different ethnic groups. Ariel, for example (ethnic group: mermaids) is clearly different from the others, as is the princess (whatever her name is) from Aladdin (ethnic group: non-threatening Middle Eastern. More belly dancer than burka). But those two aside I'm lost. Why? Why do all princesses have to look the same? Is there a rule? They even all dress the same (exceptions: mermaids and belly dancers). Are there no individualists in the princess world? It's a rum do, and no mistake.


Gadjo Dilo said...

Andy, princesses are surely over-rated on account of the very "sameyness" that you've observed. Though I was always a big fan of HRH Princess "Naff Off" Anne.

Anonymous said...

Hi Andy,
don't worry, my nearly 3 year old daughter Alice (aka Dudie) is a princess freak as well. She calls herself "beautiful princess dudie", and is obsessed with princesses. She actually sees princesses where I can't...maybe I should try the memory card game with her as well. The only thing I'd like to say about your problem is that there must be some kind of disney's stereotype with princesses...try something else! Irene

Soj said...

Years ago I was in the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in DC and they have the exact "same" game in one of their display halls.

Only instead of Disney princesses, it was pictures of what different airplanes look like from different angles so people charged with spotting them could know exactly what make and model they'd just seen.

To the untrained eye however, most planes look the same, especially when they're high above you.

Just as some people (often women but not exclusively) have a hard time distinguishing different makes and models of cars whereas an enthusiast can identify a car just by the shape of its running lights at night.

Disney princesses DO all look the same, as do airplanes and cars, until you have a motivation to learn the differences :P


Soj said...

Hey if it makes you feel any better, your daughter's on the receiving end of a corporate juggernaut :P