Walt Disney has likely a profound impact on your childhood and development -- and the influence of this media giant continues to play a major role in our culture.
As a result, Disney has always been a popular target for individuals and artists who want to push the boundaries of identity and what is considered "normal" in society, such as this viral video where Disney Princesses become fed up with being damsels in distress.
Another popular subversion of Disney culture that has recently been circulating on Tumblr involves artists take images of classic Disney characters and visually "transforming" them into the opposite gender of what they're perceived and originally presented as along the male/female binary.
In order to better understand this work, called "Genderbent Disney," HuffPost Gay Voices sat down with TT Bret, one of the artists involved, to discuss why this work is important and the goal of the transformations.
Check out the interview under the images below.
The Huffington Post: How did the "Genderbent Disney" series start? Is it a collaborative effort among multiple people? TT Brent: I started my Genderbent Disney series after viewing some older Disney edits by tumblr user "thecrownedheart." I love the work they produced, and wanted to create my own unique versions of Disney's characters. It started out as me editing a few images, and it seems to have spread since then to become an active fandom. Not that altering Disney characters hasn't been around for a while, but it really seemed to take off. The response I got was pretty unbelievable. I've had several artists sharing their own edits with me since then.
Why did you decide to produce these images? I produced the first images purely for fun. I love Disney, art design and designing characters, and after seeing thecrownedheart's edits I decided to try it out. I honestly had no other intent then just to have fun. The response I got from the human rights/political side of Tumblr took me by surprise. Lots of positive, and at times negative, comments. After seeing those responses, I started paying more attention to the edits and the effects they had on people.
Why do you think these images are important? The edited images bring out an aspect of Disney design work that tends to lean towards stereotypes. The result of my edits, although still utilizing many of the Disney stereotypes of gender to create the most drastic changes, maintain the character's focal features. The finished product is a mix of interesting characters that don't quite fit the male and female gender stereotypes of Disney, which broadens the spectrum of what an animated character should look like.
How are these images different from traditional notions of major figures in Disney films? Female Disney characters tend to have heart shaped faces, big eyes, thin frames... a modern ideal image of beauty for women. The men of Disney are more varied in their make-up, however they maintain the strong, hetero-masculine stereotype throughout. After editing, the end result created women with stronger features, and a wider variety of facial/body structures. The "men" were slightly more "effeminate," slimmer bodies, and almost always looked younger. Almost every image was, in a sense, the opposite of Disney ideals.
Why do you think projects like these are politically and socially important? It's important to challenge stereotypes. The images of normalcy and beauty that the media portrays are very limited, as well and the ideals of gender and sexuality. In order to create acceptance, we need to start with our media. Why not start with more diverse character designs? "Ideal human traits" should apply to everyone, not just a limited few.
To see more of the "Genderbendt Disney" images head here.