First let's look at the definition of provincial. Dictionary.com says that provincial is an adjective meaning having or showing the manners, viewpoints, etc., considered characteristic of unsophisticated inhabitants of a province. Something provincial could be a rustic living space, or a narrow minded person. Ouch. For a movie that seems to be teaching a message about not judging others without getting to know them, Belle is being pretty judgy in her opening song. For the most part the inhabitants of this little town seem to be perfectly nice people living perfectly nice lives, providing for their families and offering goods and services to the other townspeople. Sure Belle, you may not be able to discuss literature with them, but does that make you better than them, somehow above living a simple life with your family in a quiet town? I know Gaston thinks you're better than everyone else, but he's the villain so...
Disney princesses of the past like Snow White and Cinderella are often viewed as not being as good of role models for girls as the modern princesses because of their passivity. The story happens to them rather than them taking the initiative to kick butt and take names. I find this comparison troubling. Saying that Snow White is a worse role model than Mulan is just replacing one stereotype of what a girl should be like and what they should want with another. If a girl wants to wear blue t-shirts, play with trucks, and take karate that's great! More power to her. By all means, go for it. But if a girl wants to wear pink dresses, play with dolls, and take ballet, that's great too. Heck, a girl can even do both! We need to stop thinking of traditional expressions of femininity as inferior - but that could be another post altogether.
I think Snow White and Cinderella actually have some pretty admirable traits. In both stories they are treated horribly, forced to wear rags and basically used as slave labor. While they may hope that things get better they accept that this is the situation they are in right now and deal with it as best they can, facing the world with a positive attitude and treating others, including those who treat them poorly, with patience, kindness, and selflessness. To some this may seem provincial, but I think that this attitude is much more sophisticated than being aggressively rude to your parents and engaging in dubious dealings with witches just to get what you want - I'm looking at you Merida and Ariel!
Let's take a look at the most recent Disney princess movie, Moana, (I know her princess status is not official yet!). In the song "Where You Are" Moana keeps being drawn to the sea and her father explains how the island provides them with everything they need and that she can find happiness where she is. Hey Moana, I get it. I'm drawn to the water too. Looking out on the horizon of Lake Michigan is one my favorite things in the world, but your dad's song is actually incredibly wise! There is value in realizing that you have everything you need and being thankful for it. If you are always trying to find happiness outside of yourself and where you are, it is going to be very difficult to be happy. I like how even though it is difficult at times, Moana obeys her parents and does her best to find happiness on the island, only setting out to sea when it become necessary to save her people. She doesn't go just because it's what she wants. She goes when she realizes there is a purpose outside of herself for her desire.
The truth is, we are all called to something more. But it's not a magical castle, becoming a war hero, or you know, legs. We are all called to union with God in heaven - we are all called to be saints. The way we get there will vary. Some of us may be called to set off on a grand, exotic adventure, and some of us may be called to love our husbands and raise our kids in a quiet town, and that's okay. Through the saints the Church gives us examples of warriors, scholars, spouses, parents, religious, royalty and peasants in grand variety who were all living out holy lives striving to be the best version of themselves. Remember that. Not the best version of someone else, but themselves. While St. Therese of Lisieux desired to be a missionary traveling the world, it was not what God had planned for her, and the impact she's had on the world by doing small things with great love inside the convent walls is awe inspiring.