This month, I’m excited to talk a little about a fantastic website run by ex-Dreamworks animator Jason Porath, who is the researcher, writer, and artist behind May’s Muse of the Month: Rejected Princesses.
The series is an ongoing project that focuses on the stories of real, remarkable women throughout history, who, in Porath’s own words, “had agency, conflict, and personality.” From fierce Samoan war goddesses to Prohibition-era gangsters to one of history’s greatest fossil collectors, Rejected Princesses turns the spotlight on women who are, more often than not, absent from our history books, but who were nevertheless extraordinary and inspiring in their own right.
As someone who used to work for a major animation studio, Porath writes that he understands why it’s risky, even for big companies like Disney, to back stories about little-known, nonconforming, or otherwise nontraditional female characters… after all, the tagline of his site is “Women too Awesome, Awful, or Offbeat for Kids’ Movies.” It’s hard to appeal to a wide audience with such stories, and, consequently, hard to profit off of them. And for that matter, would we even want a sanitized, mass-marketed version of the story of Jeanne de Clisson, a French noblewoman-turned-pirate who haunted the English Channel after the execution of her husband? Or a movie full of cheery sing-along songs about Lyudmila Pavlichenko, who became the deadliest female sniper in history after killing over three hundred fascists during World War II? Would such renditions even do these women justice?
Luckily, as an independent creator, Jason Porath isn’t beholden to a studio. He doesn’t have to worry about laying off employees if Rejected Princesses isn’t a big financial success, which means he has the liberty to tell these stories in all of their weird, wonderful glory. As someone who has always loved to learn, I feel that Porath’s project is a noble endeavor that strives to bring history’s forgotten female figures into the light, and to make their incredible stories at once accessible, entertaining, and educational. I highly recommend Rejected Princesses to anyone who wants to learn about some the amazing women you probably didn’t hear about in history class! Click here to check it out.