This is all I’m going to say:
Look, Pocahontas is a great movie, but that doesn’t mean it’s not problematic. The two aren’t mutually exclusive. And it’s a little inappropriate to compare fairy tales to real history—-like, the relationship between European settlers and Native Americans was not a fairy tale, it’s history. So Disney can change it and make a great story or whatever—-“It is a beautiful story with a beautiful message and it is told artfully” Yes! True, but: “I don’t understand why people can’t just let it be that”. Because it’s not just that? It’s also many other things? Anyone with a questioning mind should be able to look into the things they loved in their childhood and see the flaws?
I agree with Cannon. And there is no pop up indication that reminds movie watchers that this is not the true story. This retelling is not a retelling in the way beauty and the beast is. Not only was that always a fictional tale, but the changes of Pocahontas as specifically rooted in a colonized way of viewing native cultures (see here and here2 for more details on specific problemtic cultural and historical problems).
I think it’s too blasse to go say “read a book and learn the truth” etc. If it’s a movie about a historical event, the truth should not be so hidden so as to be almost the complete opposite of the movie portrayal. People cannot be expected- and should not be expected- to google the historical context of every movie they see. Would it be nice if they did? Probably. Would it be great if schools spent more time examining the non-white, POC history of American experiences, before and after the American Revolution? Certainly.
But in examining how movies like this operate in real life, as opposed to idealized US Americana, Disney’s Pocahontas IS the dominant understanding of how that moment in history went down. That IS what happens when you tell a story about a culture that is often ignored except to be denigrated or used as visual props- you end up being the accepted narrative, because all others have been systematically silenced. And, again, given how this movie feeds into historical white washing and native erasure and presumptions and stereotypes of native cultures, this is very troubling.
It’s not just a movie… it was never just a movie