Poor Decisions in The Princess and the Frog
I saw Disney’s The Princess and the Frog a few weeks ago, and I gotta say I rather liked it. This isn’t a review of that movie, though. After I saw it, I went to the bathroom and tweeted the following:
Princess and the Frog./Good little movie. Disney…/Keep an eye on them.
3:11 PM Aug 26th via txt
See? It’s a haiku where I imply that I don’t know who Disney are. Hilarious! And, in kind, I got the following reply:
@tibieryo Not without its glaringly poor decisions, though. Good, but not great.
4:33 PM Aug 26th via web in reply to tibieryo
from a busybody with not much else to do. However, I’ve had a while to think about it, and I’ve realised–Disney did make some poor decisions in the making of The Princess and the Frog! For instance,
1: Making a movie about black people.
Now, Disney is obviously a company with a long and storied history of racism. I’m not the first person to say this, so don’t find it that shocking. However, in making this movie, Disney sought to mend those fences with the entire black population of America by not only making a black princess feature, but by making the protagonist the most sensible, capable and able-minded princess-to-be in their entire catalogue. Well, Tiana might have a run from Belle in able-mindedness but she was a bookworm, that’s cheating. All of this is very noble, and in fact could be seen as a grand gesture of goodwill. It may be a small step to make Tiana the only princess who has a sensible career, despite the fact that she’s living in Jazz Age, steeped-in-racism New Orleans, showing young black girls that dreaming of your future and planning to be a success are good things, but it’s a first step, and Disney obviously meant it well.
Too bad that in making a movie about black people, they made a movie about black people.
I hope I’m not spoiling anyone with the revelation that most of the creative team behind this feature was white. Now, I don’t know about you, but when white people write any stories with black people in them, I am immediately offended. I show up right outside their offices, picketing the mean things they’re planning to say about black people. I mean, you’re making a movie with almost all black characters, do you know what that means? That means that the villain of this piece might be black! And obviously, treating black people like any other people, showing that good ones exist, bad ones exist, sometimes they have conflicting goals with each other and they are all as capable of being good or bad or accomplished human beings as the rest of us–that’s just racist!
If Disney didn’t want to have to deal with the inevitable hot button issue of racism, then they should have done what they do best, be overtly racist to everyone who isn’t Aryan in their cartoons, and we would have ignored them, like we’ve done for decades. Making a movie where entire cultures are reduced to a set of stereotypes and including them for whitey to laugh at is obviously a much better decision than trying to show that black people are just as capable of being good or bad as white people or gay people or Jewish people or ANY people. Disney should’ve stuck to their guns and made Tiana white and included her silly, ditzy black friend with the dream of some day owning a restaurant instead. Obviously, the ditzy black friend would never get that restaurant. Why, that’s just ridiculous!
So we have their first mistake, treating black people like people and not a culture to be stereotyped for the amusement of their fellow whites. (What idiots, amirite?) But did you know that they also made a movie set in New Orleans?!
2: Setting the movie in New Orleans.
Never before has the setting to a Princess feature been known to the general public who are seeing it. I mean, normally, it’s some medieval thing, right? Or like, the medieval Middle East. Or rural France in the 19th century, or something. The Princess and the Frog is set in jazz age New Orleans, a time when the city was a melting pot of all the cultures they could find. If you were a person of any color, race or creed, you could find a place for you in New Orleans. Jazz music wasn’t just part of the culture, it was part of everyday life. The food was some of the best American cuisine to ever be made. The music was so good, they still play it at funerals. It was a junction point for every culture in America, and it was one of the most famous cities in the world.
Except that in making a movie set in New Orleans, they forgot to acknowledge the most important thing in the history of the Big Easy: Hurricane Katrina.
Now, I know a lot of you white people are wondering how I went this far without mentioning that New Orleans is a hurricane ravaged former husk of a city. It was hard, let me tell you. I didn’t think I could make it all the way to this section! I might’ve slipped up earlier, but no matter–the important thing to remember is that New Orleans is a flooded out shell of a gleaming gem. It will never again be a beacon of hope or a popular tourist destination, and really should not be portrayed as such in any media. That’s misleading and dishonest. Trying to look back on New Orleans with fondness and hope is a lie. I don’t like being lied to by anybody, let alone those racists at Disney.
I mean, it’s not like they looked for a place that was culturally significant to black people in America that would also have enough mysticism and mystery around it to support fairy-tale magic, right? No, they obviously wanted to pour salt in the wounds of the survivors of Hurricane Katrina. Those insensitive bastards.
3: It’s in 2D.
Nobody likes hand drawn animation, like wtf disney, come on