- just-a-simple-monk asked
Tiana was the first African American Disney princess in 72 years and the only African American princess ever.
- Mulan was the first East Asian Disney princess in 61 years and the only East Asian princess ever.
- Pocahontas was the first Native American princess in 58 years and the only Native American princess ever.
- Jasmine was the first Middle Eastern-analogue princess in 55 years, the first princess of color in 55 years, and the only Middle Eastern-esque since.
- These four, plus Princess Kida, are the only princesses who are not white.
- The only Asian princess is Mulan, who’s from China.
- The only Native American princess is Pocahontas, who’s Powhatan.
- The only Black princess is Tiana, who’s American.
- The only Middle-Eastern princess is Jasmine, who’s from Agrabah.
- The only white princesses are Snow White who’s from Germany, and Cinderella who’s French, and Aurora who’s maybe French or German or British, and Ariel who’s from the ocean but moves to Denmark, and Belle who’s French, and Rapunzel who’s German, and Merida who’s Scottish, and Anna who’s Scandinavian, and Elsa who’s Scandinavian.
Look it can’t even paint with more than one, it just splatters the other colors into a giant mess and tries to pass it off as painting.
Where’s that post that points out Rapunzel was Disney’s first white princess in 20 years??
While it’s true there’s not representation of every ethnicity yet, it’s not true that they only “paint with one color.” And I gotta say I find it ironic that the quote used for this reference was sang by a Native American (hint: not white) princess.
Bottom line: I’d love to see Disney do a Hispanic princess, a mixed race couple, a movie where the princess is the one saving the prince, a same-sex couple as much as the next person. But making false claims about the diversity in their movies isn’t going to get us there.
I assume that post is hiding in embarrassment because even if Rapunzel was Disney’s first white princess in 20 years (not withstanding with the pile of Cinderella sequels that home video spat out, and the giant castles that Disney has erected to memorialize three different white princesses, etc.) that’s a pretty sad statistic.
Sure, we went 20 years without a new white princess. Let’s be thoughtful about this:
So this argument that ooh, Rapunzel was the first white Disney princess in 20 years? When there were six white princesses before her? Rapunzel has only been out since 2010, and since then Disney has added THREE more white princesses.
That’s four white princesses in the past three years.
Disney can crown four princesses, all of the same same race, in three years, when they are white.
Yet, as your own fancy statistic attests, it took them six times as long to crown four princesses of color, of different races—each from films with questionable racial stereotypes.
Trying to minimize Disney’s terrible track record isn’t going to get us there either.
- ileikturtles asked
Hi there, the original story was written by Hans Christian Andersen, the same Danish author that wrote ‘the Little Mermaid’ and as such it is not a Saami story at all.
In the original story however, the main character Gerda meets a Saami woman who helps her finding her way to the Snow Queen’s palace by writing a message on a piece of dried fish that she tells Gerda to bring to a Finnish woman in the far north of Finland. This part of the story is a mere paragraph long, so the only reason why Disney has chosen to call Kristoff Saami is to add a bit of exotic flair to the film itself.
Disney’s understanding of our many and different cultures is non-existent, they haven’t used any Saami advisors in the process of making the film, Kristoff is a vendor of ice with a pet reindeer and the only inclusion of a Saami voice in the film is through the opening song, which is a yoik written by a South Saami composer. This yoik is not performed by Saami artists, however, so it’s not really a Saami addition to the film as much as it is a tune chosen because of how exotic it sounds. In many ways Eatnemen vuelie is not chosen because Disney wants the film to give Saami a place, it’s been chosen because it sounds like a chant not all too dissimilar from the opening song in Pocahontas.
In other words, changing Kristoff’s outfit from the horrible mismatch of things he’s currently wearing and that Disney presents as being Saami to something authentically Saami would be equally problematic because he is not Saami. Making Kristoff Saami is a way for Disney to claim that they have included minorities in their stories, rather than telling yet another boring, white Western story that has nothing new to add to the wealth of children’s films out there. His Saaminess is a tokenistic way of showing how inclusive Disney is while not being inclusive or diverse at all.
Via Jezebel…check out the article but yes, what the title says. I basically just posted this after finding the other link, but then realized this quote had more textual info than what was there.
…according to one Disney exec, female characters are harder to animate than male ones due to their having to show a “wide range of emotions” and having to “keep them pretty” in the midst of movement. Almost immediately, the internet called bullshit.
The exec, whose foot is probably by now firmly in his mouth, is one Lino Disalvo, Disney’s head of animation for film. He lauded the achievements of the animation staff who worked onFrozen to a visiting animation blogger, saying making the film look good was a unique challenge. BECAUSE LADIES.
“Historically speaking, animating female characters are really, really difficult, ’cause they have to go through these range of emotions, but they’re very, very — you have to keep them pretty and they’re very sensitive to — you can get them off a model very quickly. So, having a film with two hero female characters was really tough, and having them both in the scene and look very different if they’re echoing the same expression; that Elsa looking angry looks different from Anna being angry.”
love the comparison image they posted… & this comment:
I’ve seen other people comment on it and should have included it in posts (forgot) but it’s a good point that the implication here is ALSO that men don’t need to show as much range of emotion. Which gives credence to the stereotype that “women are emotional, while men are logical and don’t do things like cry”.
also why DO you have to keep female characters “pretty in the midst of movement”?? it’s like period commercials where I have to do white pants-ed cartwheels while I’m cramping blood out my bottom like hello it’s ok to be not pretty when you’re escaping from death or whatever
Seriously, it surprises me that people still don’t get that “whitewashing” doesn’t just mean “taking a character of color and turning them white,” but also applies to “focusing disproportionately on the stories of white people,” “glossing over or altering…
I kinda feel though that for the times, the princess’ are actually a wider spread than you’re making it sound. Yes their skin is white but theyre of different nationalities. German English French American Scottish ect. Just because the countries main population of the time when the story was written was white isnt really the fault of the tale. I mean you don’t go to African stories and myths expecting to see white people and have them be culturally diverse. Same with any other ethnicity
(Also with frozen, the upper frozen countries are whiter than white because the pigment is bleached from extended exposure to cold temperatures encouraged them not to go outside and produce melatonin which gives skin its pigment hence the white skin. Also because shes an ice fairy thing.))
That’s the thing. I go to European folk tales and myths expecting to see European people, who are predominately white (although there have been people of color in Europe for longer than white people, because there were no white people before Africans migrated to Europe, and commerce and immigration have been pretty vibrant between the two places since then)
I also go to African folk tales and myths and expect to see African people, and when I go to Asian folk tales and myths I expect to see Asian people, and when I go to Native American folk tales and myths, I expect to see Native American people, and so on for every geographical region and its respective predominate ethnic group.
Except that’s the thing. I don’t go to African stories and myths expecting to see white people. Disney doesn’t go to African stories and myths, full-stop.
Disney goes to European folk tales and uses a cast of white people, like you might expect in that region and time period. Then, they go to European folk tales and use a cast of white people, like you might expect in that region and time period. Then, they go to European folk tales and use a cast of white people, like you might expect in that region and time period. And then, they go to European folk tales and use a cast of white people, like you might expect in that region and time period.
The problem is not that the cast of any given individual movie isn’t diverse enough. The problem is that Disney continually chooses to set their stories in western and northern Europe (conveniently, where “all the characters are white” is plausible).
They might just be “being accurate to the story’s time period and location,” but the thing is, they choose the time period and location, and time after time, they always seem to choose stories written by and exclusively featuring white people.
Yeah, if they made movies set in Africa or Asia or pre-colonial Australia or pre-colonial Americas, the characters in those movies would all be African or Asian or whatever culture is indigenous to the story’s setting. The problem is that they don’t really do that. In the “Princess” collection, they have two movies set in America, one set in Asia, and one set in a made-up country that is so dissimilar to any culture that has ever existed that the closest location I can give for it is “somewhere below Russia.” Then they have eight movies set in northern/western Europe, for a total of nine white princesses who.
Of course, those nine princesses are sometimes French, sometimes Danish, sometimes German, et cetera. There’s a lot of different nationalities amongst the white princesses.
However, amongst the Asian princess, there is one nationality: Chinese. Amongst the Black princess, there is one nationality: American. Amongst the native American princess, there is one nationality: Powhatan. Amongst the Arab princess, there is less than one nationality, because Agrabah bears almost no resemblance to any one place that ever existed.
Do you see the problem? The white princesses, plural, have a great deal of diversity in their nationalities, in their appearances, in their personalities and attitudes. The princesses of color get no such diversity, because there is only one of each race.
And that’s kind of the issue. White people already have seven princess from various parts of Europe. Every other race (note: race, not nationality) has one princess, maximum, but Disney still insists on giving white people an eighth and ninth helping in one go while everybody else is still waiting on firsts and seconds.
And that is what people mean when they say it’s whitewashing.
Yeah, if they made movies set in Africa or Asia or pre-colonial Australia or pre-colonial Americas, the characters in those movies would all be African or Asian or whatever culture is indigenous to the story’s setting. The problem is that they don’t really do that.
It’s actually more problematic and racist than even that. Disney has set movies in areas with a lot of people of color like Africa and Australia—and they still feature white people—look at Tarzan, The Rescuers Down Under, etc.
We believe that Pocahontas’s husband Kocoum was killed by the English after Pocahontas was kidnapped. Mattaponi oral history tells us that the English killed Kocoum prior to Captain Samuel Argall’s departure for Jamestown with Pocahontas aboard ship. The British did not recognize the marriage of Pocahontas and Kocoum, believing it to be pagan. Little Kocoum, the small son of Pocahontas and her warrior husband, survived. Some of his descendants live today.
What’s especially unfair about those who condemn blacks who criticize The Princess and the Frog is that whites, as a race, are not condemned as ungrateful or otherwise for critiquing the numerous white Disney princesses (or society at large.) Whites have taken Disney to task over white princesses’ independence, agency, body size, beauty, and intelligence among other things.
There are academics and writers who have built a discipline out of critiquing Disney – particularly its princesses. While some whites now paint Disney as a desperate corporation scrambling to alter Tiana and assuage the endless demands of blacks, they fail to note how Ariel was the headstrong response to white complaints about obedient Cinderella and Belle was the feminist response to white criticism about willing-to-give-up-her-voice-for-a-man Ariel. Whites have made countless demands about their heroines, and Disney has altered their creations in response to those demands.
Yet whites also know that if any given princess isn’t pleasing, in a few years another will be created. This is the first and most likely last black Disney princess. After all, while Disney repeatedly makes white princesses, it has yet to create more than one princess from the same minority ethnic group. In that light, it’s important to get Tiana right on the first (and probably only) shot.
There has been a lot of debate circulating Tumblr lately about Disney’s upcoming film Frozen. A lot of this debate was sparked by the fact that the character design of the film’s heroine, Anna, is strikingly similar (read: identical) to that of Rapunzel in Tangled. Implications of lazy animation aside, the whole thing once again makes it startlingly clear that Disney, and most all media for that matter, makes stories about the same thin, wide eyed white women over and over again while missing out on any opportunities for diversity.
These are of course, valid accusations and a really important conversation. If these revelations are motivation for choosing to not see or support Frozen, they are perfectly legitimate. They are certainly a contributing factor for me. But I made the decision to not support Frozen before any character design was revealed. In short, the direction that Disney is taking this film is distasteful not just to their own record of creativity — (Say what you will, but I have great respect for the filmaking legacy of the studio. With all the critiques and caveats that media awareness brings, I’m still a fan. )— but to the source material that they are drawing from.
Frozen is, by Disney’s account, an adaptation of Hans Christian Anderson’s story, The Snow Queen. When I first heard rumors and saw concept art for a Disney adaptation of the story, I was overjoyed. The film was originally in development as a traditional animated feature, which was appealing to this old school Disney and animation fan. But aside from that, The Snow Queen is one of my all time favorite fairy tales. It’s epic, melancholy, emotionally complex, and fantastically feminist.
Hans Christian Anderson’s oeuvre is not exactly female friendly. If you think the silencing and lack of agency implied in Disney’s The Little Mermaid is problematic, you haven’t read the original. Anderson so often writes of sadistic punishments for heroines’ slight, heavily gendered sins like vanity and sanctifies heroines for gendered virtues like silence and passivity, that many of his works demonstrate deep seated misogyny.
The Snow Queen is not one of those works, and it makes me wonder what sort of feminist tonic Anderson ingested before writing it. It tells the story of a young girl named Gerda who must embark on a journey to rescue her best friend, a boy named Kai, from both the clutches of the Snow Queen and the soul killing influence of a cursed shard of mirror that has become lodged in his heart.
That Gerda is the active and resourceful rescuer of her passive, male best friend is already a refreshing twist on mainstream western fairy tales, but the female power on display in the story is apparent in other ways. The Snow Queen is what I would call a Bechdel Test win. Female characters outnumber male characters to a startling degree. In fact, Kai is the only significant male character to speak of. Every other role in Gerda’s hero’s journey is fulfilled by a woman, girl or even an expressly female animal guide.
There is the Snow Queen herself, a formidable villain who’s power is treated with respect. There is Kai’s grandmother, who provides an essential catalyst to Gerda’s journey. There is the old witch woman with the enchanted garden who functions as a threshold guardian for Gerda while being characterized in a respectful manner that serves as a good subversion of the old witch trope. There is a female crow who knows how to sneak into palaces, a helpful princess who heads a side plot in which she will only marry a prince as intelligent as her (!!!), a robber and her daughter, head of a band of robbers who kidnap Gerda. The daughter is a spunky, knife wielding girl who befriends Gerda and aids her on her way. And finally, there are two women, the latter of whom helps Gerda understand the inherent power she has always had within her, a power that will ultimately save her friend, and the world.
Please excuse my while I go squee into a pillow over that roster of amazingly diverse female characters and the female agency on display in this story.
Well, now that I’m done with that, can we just take a minute to reflect on how many incredible female characters Disney had at their disposal. Expanded on with the studio’s signature storytelling skill, these ladies could have made up one of the most diverse, predominately female casts to ever grace children’s media. Not to mention the story’s Scandinavian setting offers a great opportunity for some racial diversity and indigenous representation, from Inuit to Sami and beyond.
So you can imagine that I was profoundly disappointed when I heard that Disney’s adaptation, now called Frozen (a Tangled-reminiscent decision that stinks of avoiding the need to market a film with a female centered title), had cut out every single one of these female characters save for Gerda, now called Anna, and the Snow Queen, who is now Anna’s sister. The women have been replaced with a cast of men, and Anna is now accompanied on her journey by a “Mountain Man” named Kristoff (edit: a helpful anon informed me that his name is not Hans, as I originally stated. Hans is in fact another male character and may be a factor in a possible love triangle for Anna). Kristoff is obviously intended to serve as romantic interest for the now aged up Anna, who as Gerda in the original, felt a love for her friend Kai that was strictly platonic. (Kai, by the way, has been dropped altogether.)
Now I know that Disney often drastically changes the plot of fairy tales that it adapts and I’ve never been one to complain about it. But most of these fairy tales have been simple stories with archetypal characters and a bare bones plot. Most of the changes made by Disney improve the original in terms of depth of narrative and character.
The Snow Queen is not that story. Disney’s changes not only appear to play down the emotional and narrative depth of the story, they violate many of its central themes.
That Disney feels it’s necessary to take a female driven, female dominated story and cut it down to one princess protagonist with a dashing male helper/love interest, is honestly disgusting and one of the most blatant examples of Hollywood’s lack of faith in women in recent memory.
It’s one of those clear examples in which everything that is wrong with our media’s approach to women and female agency is even more apparent, if only because we have a clear source to compare it to, and we can see what the studio chose to change.
A female protagonist who primarily goes it alone? Can’t have that. She needs a hot dude to be by her side so the audience doesn’t get bored by all the lady time, and also she needs someone to get with at the end. And on that note, let’s make her older and also a princess.
A bunch of women who, if expanded, could be diverse and original characters, friends, villains and comic relief? No way that would work. Let’s just replace them with some dudes and a talking snowman. We can’t have more than two women in a story. After all, every other fairy tale we’ve produced has only let women be a princess or a villain. Why break the pattern now? Why let girls know that they have inherent power no matter where they come from? Why let them know they have other options. And while we’re at it, we’ve got to make sure everyone is white.
So yeah, that’s why I’m boycotting Frozen.
This a thousand times.
I also appreciate Kelly Link’s "Travels with the Snow Queen" (short story starts on page 99)