Diversity Disney style (cultivating the chip on my shoulder – cultural sensitivity part 2)

So it’s 2010 and Disney have finally given the world a black princess character in their latest film, the Princess and the Frog.  I saw it today and my children loved it.  My wife and I were not so sure.  I went in expecting a cinematic revolution, but all I got was, unfortunately, more of the same old same old

– A black voodoo con artist, the only real ‘baddy’ in the film.  (The only other ‘baddy’ was a white butler character who was an exploited servant of a black prince, and was tricked into being bad by the black voodoo guy).

– A black voodoo grandmother figure.  (To be fair she was a ‘goody’, but she’s still all about voodoo!)

– A poor black family who lived in poor area, whose mum was a worker for a…

– Rich white family, who lived in a mansion.

– A poor girl who could only fulfill her dreams by meeting and marrying a rich man (who in Disney obviously happened also to be a Prince).

– A black Prince who (initially) was not who he said he was, (basically he was actually a poor golddigger).  (To be fair he ended up being a ‘goody’, but initially he was an aspiring con man.)

– Voodoo.

– More voodoo!

This film will teach me not to have high expectations of Disney ever again.

I’m glad my children liked the film.  They obviously don’t bring all of this cultural baggage in with them and see it in a film’s storyline and characters (though I would definitely argue that subconsciously they do see it, and the cultural baggage seeps into one’s consciousness, one representation at a time, chipping away at your sense of self!  Depressing thought I know….).

(Ironically I had to go upstairs in the middle of writing the last sentence as my daughter was calling me crying from bed – “I’m having nightmares about the Princess and the Frog!”)  True anecdote, no joke.

I was really disappointed how Disney gave with one hand and took away with the other.  I guess this is what we call equality, and what we call progress.  Maybe I ask for too much, but I don’t think so. 

I really don’t think so.

Now I need to go and see my daughter.  Tell her not to be scared, as it was only a silly little film.

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3 thoughts on “Diversity Disney style (cultivating the chip on my shoulder – cultural sensitivity part 2)

  1. Hi Shawn. I haven’t watched the princes and the frog yet but will definitely watch it with my critics hat on. Just to let you know i have ablog that will concentrate on my research and other areas of interests (media and communication). Do hop in at [kennedyjavuru@wordpress.com]as you know i will need your guidance. Till then. Oh! i spoke to Peter Lewis about you and he speaks very highly of you. He is impressed I am starting to network with people like you!!!

  2. Hi Kennedy, I’ve added your blog to my list. I’ll definitely take a look! You know what’s it’s like with films that are a bit race suspect – you don’t want to go on about it all the time but sometimes you just have to mention it. On one level it was a very good film, entertaining and all that, but from a (my) critic’s level, I had to mention certain things. That’s very sweet of Peter! lol I have to go off and teach now. All the best, chat to you more soon. Shawn

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