A POSITIVE TURNING POINT OR RACISM?

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The Disney film “The princess and the frog” can be regarded as a reflection of the melting pot of America that marked a positive turning point in the Disney films. In Disney films, we often can see the ideology about the White privilege. Whites are always in the power position. For example,all of Disney’s princesses have mostly been white since Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in 1937. “The princess and the frog” is the first Disney film which shows the African-American princess. From starting with this movie when children imagine an image of the fairy tale princess, they might come up with the not only White princess but also African-American princess in their mind.

However it has drawn a lot of criticism. The most controversy issue was that the prince was not black, while Princess Tiana and many in the cartoon cast are black. The prince skin color was portrayed much lighter than black. Some argued that this gives an implicit meaning of that a black man is worthy of the title of prince. However, it is definitely a black and white way of thinking that showing non-white prince means showing African-American prince. As the reality in America, there are various skin colors. Rather taking it in a negative view, I think it was a good start in Disney films by giving characters much diversity in races than the previous films.

Isn’t it overly sensitive response to see racism inside this movie? Or does this movie still show racism?

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One thought on “A POSITIVE TURNING POINT OR RACISM?

  1. I view this film with mixed feelings, and I don’t necessarily believe it is the “turning point” of racism. Many people argue that this film is a significant step towards equal representation in films, but there are a few things to consider. For most of the film, the main nonwhite characters are animals… literally. You see them as humans in the beginning and towards the end, but during the journey, which is when they grow, they’re trapped in the form of frogs. What kind of message is that sending to the audience?

    Additionally, there are distinct divisions in class presented at the start of the film. Tiana’s white friend, Charlotte La Bouffe, is rich and clearly of the higher social class. Tiana seems to be of the working class, and she has dreams and hopes to work her way into success. This may also relate to the article about color-blind racism. The author states that white people do not understand racism to be institutional, and so they blame black people for being lazy and not working hard. Tiana’s social class and dream may be reinforcing this belief that black people need to work harder for their dreams. As you may notice, Charlotte doesn’t need to work hard because she’s already in a position of wealth.

    And why have a cast including white people in the first place? I probably don’t need to point out the number of Disney films that take place in some fantasy genre, and somehow their excuse for excluding nonwhite characters is that in this land, all people are white. Following the logic of that argument, they could have easily made a film with a fantasy setting in a kingdom where the majority of people are black, Hispanic, or some other nonwhite race.

    I won’t deny that I do think it’s a good thing to have black Disney princesses. Many little girls are going to look at Princess Tiana as a role model. However, I do not think it is unreasonable to identify and criticize the racism and models of social hierarchy present in this film. We want children to watch films where nonwhite characters are not just merely present but establish themselves as dynamic, empowered, and interesting characters.

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