Tuesday, June 2, 2009
Many predicted that the election of a black president would finally bring about a post-race America, where people could truly be judged not by the color of their skin, but the content of their character. Obviously, those people have never lived in America. Race is and always will be a controversial issue as long as there are people alive who have experienced or promoted racism in some form or another, and their influence impacts the experiences of their children and even grandchildren.
Kudos, then, to Disney for attempting to wield their sizable, albeit waning, influence on the younger generation with its new black princess, Tiana of the upcoming The Princess and the Frog. Of course, critics have already come out of the woodwork before the film has even seen the light of day. Complaints range from the lightness of the princess’ skin – she’s a shade or two darker than Beyoncé – to the appearance of her beau, who is apparently neither white nor black. Shock! A mixed-race couple! What kind of message is that giving to our children?
This isn’t the first time the Mighty Mouse has embraced diversity, or miscegenation, but this is the first time that homegirl is black. Instead of seeing this as what it is, a major step for diversity and a bellwether that color lines are indeed disappearing, some feel that Disney is only pandering to African Americans. It’s easy to see where the criticism is coming from, after all, in a country where injustice is still very prevalent no one wants to see kids brainwashed by cultural stereotypes.
But, really though, get the fuck over it. Faulting Disney for setting the tale in New Orleans because of the Katrina tragedy neglects the rich cultural history of the area and is just needless nitpicking. Claiming the princess is not black enough or that her prince is the wrong ethnicity is racism in and of itself. The film has months before it comes out. Therefore, any judgment of it should wait until then. And in the meanwhile, isn’t there something more pressing to attend to? I hear there’s a recession going on, but don’t quote me.
AnA, personally, is eagerly awaiting The Princess and the Frog. I mean, hi, Tony-winner and our second favorite Dreamgirl, Anika Noni Rose, is lending her larger than life voice to Princess Tiana and God herself portrays her mother. What’s there to worry about? Besides, of course, the fact that no one has wanted to see a traditionally animated film since The Lion King.