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Derogatory Disney

October 22, 2009

As you all know, I went to Zombieland the other day, and while I was at the theater there was a massive cardboard stand-up of the soon-to-be-released Disney “classic” The Princess and the Frog. Oh man, have I got things to say about this. Just so you all know in which direction I’m headed, though, I’ll relay my response after I saw Disney’s preview for the first time. I turned to my friend and said: “Is the point of this preview to offend me?”There are a lot of rumors and stories about the racism and bigotry of the Walt Disney Corporation, many of them involving Walt Disney himself. Some people claim Disney was an anti-Semite; some believe he hated homosexuals; some individuals even think he was secretly a Nazi. I’m not going to comment on what Walt Disney was or wasn’t, because I don’t know, but it is easy to understand why so many people have taken these messages away from Disney films. It appears, whether intentional or not, Disney has had a tendency to be less than tolerant of other cultures when it comes to on-screen depictions.

Over the decades, the issue of race has been a PR nightmare for the Disney corporation. The release of Dumbo, in 1941, lead to the creation of possibly one of the most racially insensitive caricatures in animated film – the crows. If it wasn’t enough that the leader of the crew was

They've seen everything, except a black princess

They've seen everything, except a black princess

named Jim Crow, the derogatory dialect probably pissed off a number of non-White viewers. But I doubt this surprised Disney, since, as the crows would say, “they’ve gone an’ done seen jus’a ’bout e’rythang”. And can we not get into the debate of “but that was the socially accepted view of Black people in the 40s”. Well, while that may be the case, in the 1800s it was socially acceptable to own individuals and work them to death; that doesn’t mean it isn’t morally reprehensible. And, honestly, the flock of “black”birds are really just the tip of the iceberg.

Everybody knows about the little racial hiccups over the years for Disney. There was Song of the South which Disney pulled from the retail market after the NAACP gave it a less than glowing review; the Native Neverlanders in Peter Pan (they’re not American, now are they?); and the hand-chopping incident in Aladdin. But what about the bigger problems?

It seems that The Princess and the Frog is going to become the next Disney film that is racist simply in the way it is produced. Pocahontas is a prime example. Should this story really have

Glad I *cough* remembered to bring a *cough* blanket

Glad I *cough* remembered to bring a *cough* blanket

been told by the ancestors of the men who slaughtered the Native Americans? I realize the John Smith and Pocahontas spend the movie talking to Nature and learning how to properly build a canoe out of a tree trunk, but what about the other half of the story? You know, the part with the smallpox-covered blankets and the broken promises and the Trail of Tears. Isn’t it just a little insensitive to simply sugar-coat the actual history, just so it can get a G rating? The Princess and the Frog will no doubt be a similar tale, one that tells nothing of the actual struggle of the peoples involved, simply an Americanized version of the history our country chooses to remember.

The Princess and the Frog is Disney’s first real opportunity to correct the perception by many that they are a racist organization, but they’re screwing it up. The film is based in New Orleans in the 1920s, which if you’re a Black American, that is the time and place to do it. The princess gets to stay a princess, which is better than the original plan to have her be the chambermaid of a white debutante. Nope, couldn’t make it up if I wanted to. But here’s the kicker: Disney doesn’t even keep their first Black princess as a princess. They turn her into a frog. God forbid she actually remains human. No, the second the Black princess falls in love with the White prince cum frog, she gives up everything that makes her who she is and becomes a frog just like him. But that’s probably too complex of a message for kids to understand, right? I’ve lost you. You’re still stuck on the fact that the prince is White, aren’t you?

That’s right; not only does Disney have their first Black heroine abandon her heritage to be with a guy, but it’s to be with a White guy. I have no problem with inter-racial relationships, but if every other character in the movie is Black, then why the heck is there a single White prince hopping

That's liquid frog in his hands

That's liquid frog in his hands

around the Louisiana bayou? And yes, every other main character is Black – especially the villain. He’s an evil Voodoo priest who has a craving for frog’s legs or something. So, we’ve got an evil Cajun voodoo priest, a Black princess in the post-Civil War South, who spends the movie as a frog (not as a Black princess), and she’s falling for the only White guy in 50 miles. I don’t know why I thought this movie would be interpreted as even mildly racist. Then again, I suppose anything is better than those crows.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. December 8, 2009 8:08 pm

    The prince is actually Puerto Rican. You wouldn’t be able to tell because with any ethnicity other than white, they mute the skin color. Just like In Pocahontas. She’s TAN. She is not a realistic portrayal of a full blooded Indian. Same applies to Jasmine. She has a light to medium skin color, unlike REAL Middle Easterns. Disney is so messed up. They can try to break the barrier of racism, but their white supremest roots will always show through.

  2. nicholas permalink
    December 25, 2009 8:48 am

    Jesus…this is the exact reason people will continue to dislike minorities. No matter what we do to try and help things along, the colored person will always hang on to the past. Racism and stereotypes is all that colored people have, so they feel like they must hang on to it. Let it the hell go, please. No one cares about your conspircacy racist theories. I admit some of the older movies were a little racist but princess and the frog??? For real? Do you think that when Disney hires illustrators and editors and writers of these stories they secretely ask them if they are racist? ” Um…here at Disney you have to be a little racist to work here, we like to throw out a few hidden racial slurs every now and then…is that going to work out for you Mr. Smith??” Im sure thats how it works. You just make white people hate colored people even more because of shit like this.

    • January 3, 2010 8:50 pm

      I agree that there has been some…no a lot of racism in past movies. There has been a little in the present. And yes the prince is white. But would you be any happier if he were black? I don’t want to offend you but it seems like racism has become more of a creation caused by grudge in this case than a problem. If he were black it seems there would probably be a complaint going something like this: “What, just because she’s black she has to be with a black guy?”. And he isn’t actually white-he is light complected but is not a white american. In fact, princess and the frog made lightly fun of white people with their silly, bubble headed rich girl, Charlotte who thought all it takes to fall in love is a kiss. She was spoiled and stupid, but I was not at all offended. The white prince was also spoiled and hard to like. Tiana was beautiful, strong, and hard working and you couldn’t help but fall in love with her character. I’m not going to lie, I was a bit upset that she had to be a frog the majority of the movie. But that didn’t impede on her character or background at all. She was still strong and determined and talented. The villain…No matter what you do..no matter what, the villain is not going to be a positive portrayal of anyone. He/she isn’t supposed to be. So the voodoo was a bit much. But come on. He’s a villain. I didn’t walk out hating all cajuns and thinking they all turned princes to frogs. I walked out thinking that that character was a pretty cool villain. Unfortunately, not everyone can be happy, but in my opinion disney did a pretty awesome job.

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