Didn’t catch Part I? Check it out here.
The Princess and the Frog again: white folks that I know come to me in confessional and tell me they think the film was racist and they know it but like/saw it anyway and let their kids watch it. They still take their kids to Disney World at least once a year. Disney can’t get it right, so when are we going stop wanting and feeling like we need to be included in Disney’s fantastical, wonderful world? And when are our so-called allies going to join our staunch allies and just say NO?
Why does it have to be “I love Disney, but….”? You could just as easily flip that sentence around and say “Disney is racist, classist, and sexist but I still love it”. Those statements are alarmingly similar if you ask me.
When we say NO, with everything in us, we won’t have to preface criticisms with “I love [insert problematic thing here], but…”.
In my case, I love the Kingdom Hearts videogames—not a Black person as a main character in sight in those games and Disney had their hands all over it. At the same time I don’t go around professing my love of Disney. I grew out of my sometimes blind love as a child for Disney gradually, starting with the appropriation and misrepresentation of Pocahontas as a fairytale and when that stuff in Fantasia was brought to my attention, it was just another nail in the coffin. Disney, in some ways, cultivated my vision of the fantastical when I was growing up and at the same time I have felt in recent years most acutely that it is completely necessary to hold Disney at an arm’s length and set it away from me. The addition of a Black Disney princess has not changed that, and nor will the next Kingdom Hearts game or the next catchy song in their animated feature or Johnny Depp in Pirates.
The piece I read at the satirical blog, The People’s News, made light of Black people’s criticisms of the film trailer supposedly in attempt to spark discussion. One piece I read is titled this and offers the opinion that “The Princess and the Frog is not (entirely) racist” (and so it’s okay because the movie isn’t “entirely” racist???). Not to jump down the throat of the guy who wrote that, but, again, why are we drawing the line at what is “acceptably racist” instead of maintaining that racism is never okay? A share of the articles were very tentative about criticizing the film so their arguments processed in my mind as helpful but kind of lukewarm. But most of all the articles I’ve ever read on the subject are from people who confess to be Disney fans.
“I hold Disney movies very close to my heart but is anyone else ever put off by some of the underlying messages?”
–Not Quite Going the Distance, Develle Dish
And that’s the trouble: We’re holding things like Disney so close to our hearts that we’re also refusing to acknowledge that what we love about it is too tangled up in what we criticize and want to change and what needs to be replaced with radical alternatives. Because Disney is not going to crumble to the ground tomorrow, not as long as people are supporting the negative things it does as a corporation that appropriates and panders watered-down, magicked-up fairytales. In this case, it is our love that renders us unable to raise our hand against that which dehumanizes us and those around us.
“This movie shows anything but the overcoming of stereotypes in Disney films. So until the real deal comes along, stay in your seats”
Nice try. That’s ifthe real deal comes along. I don’t even think Disney, as a corporation, is capable of “the real deal”…. A history and pattern of media production like the one the Walt Disney Corporation has just doesn’t disappear.