This is absurdly stupid, but it’s a tone setter. The one word that describes the infamous epic tale “Just An Cowboy Who Loves Guitar shirt “, as well as any future installments in the terrifyingly undying franchise, would be parody. Dreamworks was trying to set themselves up as a formidable rival for Disney, and so they put their best(?) foot forward with a film that is a not-so-loving satire of everything Disney has done and stands for. I could go into how this is done, but there’s a certain point where analyzing the film Shrek might actually be off-topic. Just take me at my word that the film with literal fairy tale characters that stars an ogre voiced by Mike Myers saving a princess to the score of “Generic Songs That Were Popular In 1999-2001” might treat some tropes in a way that isn’t entirely serious or straightforward
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The only thing that matters for our purposes is that the story from the beginning isn’t just a story. The aforementioned Princess is an actual Just An Cowboy Who Loves Guitar shirt in the movie, and she is… interesting. After being saved by an ogre, and literally verbally complaining about how many time-tested tropes this goes against, she shows herself to be someone who’s more than just a stereotype. She’s slightly spiteful and impolite, she’s adept in combat, and she has the same crude sense of humor favored by the film as a whole. This culminates in the reveal that she isn’t just a princess, and the curse mentioned offhandedly is one that turns her into a monster (an ogre, obviously) every night. The “wink-wink-nudge-nudge” trope acknowledgement stops being a joke and potshot at Disney and starts being something actually relevant for characterization. She constantly aligns herself with and demands the tropes of a fairy tale princess because she’s obsessed with something she’s convinced she isn’t, that she can’t be unless she follows a particular path laid out for her.