Disney's Racist Background
For many years the controversy concerning racism in Disney movies has been happening. Many argue that Walt Disney himself was without a doubt a racist individual, therefore the movies he created were filled with racist remarks. Walt Disney Productions released their first movie Snow White and the Seven Dwarves in 1938, and have since then released over 200 movies. Many of those movies have been and still are considered to be racist. The movie Peter Pan uses racial remarks by showing the Indians skin to be extremely red and calling the Indians themselves Reds. Many people have stated that by showing the Indians skin as red and using names like Red it leads children thinking that it is acceptable to call Native Americans Reds, or that Native Americans have red skin. Another Disney movie considered to be racist is The Jungle Book. The orangoutangs or monkeys that live in the jungle were all voiced by African Americans while the rest of the characters all speak with a white-American accent. Many people believe that this implies that African Americans resemble monkey from the jungle. These are just two of the many Disney movies that people believe are racist.
Racism In The Princess And The Frog
Rather than talking about racism in all Disney movies I have narrowed my topic down to racism in the new Disney movie The Princess and the Frog. The conversation about race in this new Disney movie is incredibly diverse. Some are considering this movie to still be a racist Disney movie, while others are saying because this is Disney’s first black Princess, the movie is not racist.
- Princess and The Frog Background
Disney's Princess and the Frog was released on December 11, 2009. The movie tells the story of Disney's first black Princess, a poor African-American named Tiana. Her mother works as a dressmaker for her best friend's, a privileged white girls, father. Her friends family host a party one night and for Prince Naveen, when a magician turns the Prince into a frog. Prince Naveen convinces Tiana that if she would kiss him, he would turn back into a Prince and he would help her open her own restaurant. Well, after the kiss not only did Prince Naveen not turn back into a Prince, but Tiana was suddenly a frog. The two of them then set out to find a voodoo specialist who can fix everything for them.
As I mentioned earlier, Tiana was Disney's first black Princess. To some this was a big step forward for Disney. They thought that Disney was finally representing people of all different skin colors, and backgrounds. But to many others this was just another racist Disney movie. In doing research I have found numerous articles explaining and analyzing the movie Princess and the Frog. Most articles have discussed the problems and issues about race that still exist in the Disney movie. While there are not many articles about how Disney has overcome racism, that does not mean that everyone thinks the movie is racist. Many people have become vocal about how Disney has overcome racism, and that Princess and the Frog was a big step toward antiracist Disney movies. I have found in my research that people who do not think this movie is racist are commenting and posting their opinions against articles that say the movie is filled with racism.
There are two different aspects to this conversation happening about race in The Princess and the Frog. There are articles written for general media websites, such as movie reviews or entertainment websites. The other aspect of this discussion is the general public and or parents of the children who watch Disney movies. Rather than writing articles for entertainment media, the general public is using comment sections on websites containing these articles. The parents and opinionated public are carrying on this discussion of race through the comments sections. They are speaking out in agreement to articles written but also to argue against what some articles are stating. Throughout my research I have found that the best way to explain the conversation is to show these two different ways the topic of race in Disney’s The Princess and the Frog is being discussed.
The Media's Take on Racism in Disney
- STILL RACIST
Many articles have been written about how Disney's attempt to make a movie not filled with racism was not successful, and ultimately filled with tons of racial remarks. When digging deep and analyzing the movie Princess and the Frog there are signs of many racially discriminatory remarks. The article "5 Possible Problems With The Princess And The Frog" discusses the issues about race that fill the movie. The article points out that while Disney may have casted a black Princess for the first time, the Princess spends most of her time as a frog anyway. This leads to the impression that Disney really did not want to have a lead black Princess otherwise they would have allowed her to be a Princess throughout the movie. The article also points out that the witch curse has African-American like masks. This points to the fact that African-Americans are viewed as spooky or have a magical element about them. This becomes a misrepresentation and can be viewed or interpreted as racism.
Another one of the main problems that surrounds racism in The Princess and The Frog is that fact that the Prince in the movie was white not black. Many people felt that since the Princess was black she should have been accompanied by a black Prince. The article below, "Disney's 'The Princess and the Frog' Has Black Princess, White Prince" discusses the casting of a white Prince. It mentions that the casting of a white Prince with black Princess is suggesting that black love is not possible or should not be shown on television. It also suggest and or questions whether or not a black man could ever be a Prince. If he could, why wasn't a black Prince in the movie?
- NOT RACIST
There are very few articles that have been written about how the movie is not racist, but below is one of those articles. The movie review from Entertainment Weekly, provides the audience with detailed review of the movie. The movie is described as “marvelous new adventure.” The article provides a summary of the plot of the movie without any speculation that the movie contains racism. This article provides an argument to the two other articles discussed earlier. Those article both explained how the movie was filled with racism where as in contrast this article does the complete opposite.
General Public & Parents Take on Racism in
Princess and the Frog
The general public may not be filled with journalist who write article for entertainment websites but that does not mean that their voices are not being heard. Many people are posting comments to vocalize their opinions in regards to articles written about race in The Princess and the Frog. The article below does not discuss anti-racist approach to this Disney movie, but I am sharing it to point out some of the comments that have been made.
"I do believe the prince in the story SHOULD be black. It would be perfect to have a disney film with a black prince and princess. Maybe one might understand the frustration if disney made a film with a brazilian princess and black prince. Then would you think something was wrong?Black men should be represented as well. Black love is possible and SHOULD be represented."
"I feel as if the prince should have been black not white or middle eastern looking. I was really happy to find out that we were going to have an black princess finally.....because as a black woman myself I wish she would have been around when I was going up because that's all that there ever was, was white princess.....damn black people can't have anyting without any other race trying to mess up our shine and take our spot light.....this has nothing to do with white or spanish people but a black princess......and if you don't like what has been said then that's your problem!!!!!!!!"
These two comments are just a few of the many that are part of a large discussion concerning race in The Princess and the Frog. Both of these comments are expressing how the Prince should have been black rather than white or middle eastern. They both feel that this was Disney's opportunity to move past the racism and create a movie that is antiracist, but instead Disney missed the chance.
- The comment below is also from the article referenced above, "Disney's 'The Princess and the Frog' Has Black Princess, White Prince." This comment in contrast to the ones listed above. The comment express how she feels that the movie should be watched because it is a Disney movie, and that it does not matter what skin color any of the characters have.