“The Little Prince(ss)”: Queer Representation Outside Marvel
Last week marked Nonbinary Awareness Week, and in the wake of Disney presenting their most brave and narratively complex queer representation of Marvel characters such as Bucky Barnes and Loki as canon, fans may have missed The Little Prince(ss), a beautifully crafted story showcased in their short film program that intersected queer and racial identity with the universal need for friendship, open-mindedness, and acceptance.
The Little Prince(ss) is a story about how friendships and familial love bonds are important and how they can change each other for the better, especially for those in the marginalized queer community. Writer/Director Moxie Peng weaved a beautiful moment from their life where Peng’s father stood up for them at a crucial time and gave them the courage to exist as a vibrant, caring, and creative non-binary person.
The story revolves around two Chinese children, Gabriel (Kalo Moss) and Rob (Ching Yin Ryan Hu), who meet on the school bus. As they bond, Rob noticed Gabriel’s feminine behavior, but in an interesting twist he meets it with curiosity. The seeds of friendship grow, to the dismay of Rob’s father Chen (Evan Lai), who doesn’t comprehend why Gabriel has a love of ballet and the color pink – things that, to him, show a lack of masculinity.
The film is smart by giving dimension to the kids by not focusing solely on Gabriel’s identity, but giving the chance for Rob to question and explore their friendship with their heritage and Chinese identity. By placing them in school where both share the struggle of feeling “other” and isolated because of the food they eat or what they enjoy as an extra-curricular activity. The added layers solidify their bonding while opening up personal conversations.
Of course things don’t always go so rosy, and the film’s principal antagonist is Chen, who’s bound within the rigid confines of society’s expectations of what makes a boy a boy, and a girl a girl.
In a particularly heart-wrenching scene this subject comes into focus, but Gabriel’s parents show love not only towards their child but also to Rob. Not patronizing, nor as a bonus, but as a recognition of Rob’s spirit of being a genuine friend. The moment extended sympathy to everyone, even to Chen, by showing that love and acceptance are for everyone even if you can’t see beyond a persons appearance.
The Little Prince(ss) is a rare story of childhood friendships that bloom, without animosity, between children in a foe-to-friends trope, to let the magic of finding a person who was missing from your life. It tells us it is in everyone’s power, adult and child, to help uplift and nurture those around you, and to allow others the opportunity to grow from their mistakes even if they may never do so. You don’t need to be a superhero or save the world to bring out the best in people. Bridging the gap of understanding and discovering how special someone can be and how they are loved can be an adventure on its own, even if gently told.
The Little Prince(ss) is one of six shorts showcased in the Disney Launchpad program each touching on a theme of identity, discovery, and found acceptance. You can watch them on the Disney+ platform.
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