Disney is planning to release “The Princess and the Frog” later this year. Until this point none of Disney’s Princesses have been African American (A native Indian princess was featured in Pocahontas and Jasmine from Aladdin had an Arabic background). The animated film will feature Disney’s first African American Princess, right on the tail of the inauguration of the USA’s first African-American President Barack Obama. The plot thickens as the movie plans to showcase an interracial relationship between the African American Princess Tiana and Prince Naveen who is white. Some are unhappy at the “half” effort on Disney’s part by not having an African American Prince.
The princess’s original name was Maddy, which brought back a stereotypical visual to me of Hattie Mc Daniel’s role as “Mammy” in Gone with the Wind. And, even though she won an Oscar for her performance, we have come a LONG way since then; or have we? Disney’s story line has Princess Tirana living in New Orleans as a maid for a wealthy white boss. They could have asked me and on behalf of Herds of Concepts-my company, I would have suggested that Tiana have a modern job as a best selling author, a manager of marketing or a lawyer that works pro bono! To add more fuel to the fire, there are also reports that the evil voodoo villain is voiced by a black actor and is animated black.
Based upon the information I have, the setting and script for the film appear to feed the retro-stereotypical ignorance of the African culture of voodoo and the lives of slaves amongst other hidden messages.
Disney’s response to the “boogieman” character was similar to the one they made regarding the creation of the black princess role. They stated that it was part of a policy to offer characters that are diverse.
You can view an excerpt from the film and read more about it at the link below.
Photo Credit: http://disney.go.com