Friday, March 20, 2009

Disney's New Addition

JH: I was going through my internet routine this morning and stopped by AOL to read their front page news stories. There was one in particular that I couldn't just let slide. It was an article on the new upcoming Disney movie, The Princess and the Frog. This marks the first animated African American princess in Disney history. Cool, right?!

Well, what has people up in arms is that her prince is white! Even the tone of the article drove home the thinking that "Disney obviously doesn't think a black man is worthy of the title of prince". All I can say is WOW! My personal take on this is that it is very forward thinking and tolerant to show an interracial couple in a Disney flick, and I was proud of the company for taking such a step.

As I read on, the article continued to explain that people were also upset because the story takes place in New Orleans ... and given its history with slavery, it was an offensive setting. Apparently the story begins with the main character working as a maid in a white family's home in the 1920's. My opinion again- crappy as it may be, it IS our history. It's wrong to sweep history under the rug just because it's ugly.

People also berated Disney for naming the Princess Maddy, which they thought sounded too much like "Mammy" and therefore was racist. Disney actually changed the main character's name to Tiana to please the masses. Apparently that wasn't good enough though, because the complaints keep rolling in.

What are your views on this subject?

CH: Wow...someone will always find a problem with everything I guess. There's just no way around it, you'll never make everyone happy.

So you try and put a female minority as a lead role in a movie still marketed for the non-minority market, and then try and make it a little realistic by keeping some things in it that make sense...and you're criticized from all different directions.

I remember back in college I did a paper on minorities in television....I know this is a movie, but it still kinda first of all, there aren't many...and most minorities you see are supporting roles. And if there is a lead minority character, it's typically a man...and secondly - the show is marketed directly towards that ethnicity group. So if there's a minority lead role, the whole family is that same ethnicity...their friends are typically the same ethnicity...their neighborhood is typically the same ethnicity...making it seem like we can't all live together, marry together, or go to the same supermarket together because we're different ethnicities....

A few shows have jumped out of this box and done well....but it's rare.

Regardless - the new America is a country where interracial marriage is an everyday thing now. I'm the product of an interracial marriage. More people than I can count are also products of interracial marriages or in one themselves (marriage/relationship). It's actually becoming more rare to see people of the same ethnicity dating within their groups in the U.S..

Good for Disney for keeping up with the times and showing young viewers that it's ok and it's normal for this to happen.

As for the whole name thing....that's just dumb. I don't even know why that Mammy thing would be considered racist....regardless of whether it is or not, younger generations don't see the same things that people did years ago as negative things. And the only thing that is going to make them view names, words, symbols, etc negatively - is if we tell them that it's a bad thing.....but it doesn't have to be. The hate comes from within...not from a word.

Get real people.

That's my opinion. :)


jdcarey said...

My Comment? I think folks need to quit their bitchin'! Everybody is so hyper-sensitive these days. Get off your high horse, and develop a sense of humor!

Wanderlusting said...

Yep, everyone is waaaay too PC these days and that's what I think is wrong with the world. People need to lighten up. Period. I think Disney is awesome for taking this step and not sugar-coating things!

LORENZO said...

Disney is way too concerned with pleasing or not hurting feelings. That's why their stuff is all crap now. Instead of making art, their making "fast food" dollar churning flicks that try to address all the social ills done in America over the past 400 years. Times where less complicated when the coyote tried to crush the roadrunner with an anvil. All the best- LL

White Rabbit said...

See I'm a liiiitle biased because I've worked for the Walt Disney Company for over 7 years now (7 years?! Phew!) however I think that people forget that ...

1. It wasn't a conscious decision not to have a black Princess. They have had a Native American princess and a Chinese Princess wasn't a stand against little black girls have someone to follow, it was just that the stories had a European origin. Snow White (can't be black obv), Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Belle, Ariel ... all from old European stories

2. If you argue that it WAS a conscious decision erm ...hello? Walt Disney was never shy about being racist.

Re: Lorenzo - Disney still make art to an extent. Their recent films (I'd say from The Emperors New Groove on) were lazy and tried to keep with the 'One film per year' trend they had in the 90s. Coupled with Pixar dominating the market and audiences considering 2D films 'out of date', it has taken a while for the company to get itself back on track i.e. Quality not quantity. With John Lasseter as creative director, hopefully this will change.


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