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Monday, July 28, 2008

Over 60 years after Song of the South, Disney still can't get Black people right:
When Disney announced it was casting its first black princess for its latest animation film, the African-American heroine was hailed as a positive role model for little girls and an ambitious marketing ploy, not to mention an attempt to ward off the allegations of racism that have lurked since the heyday of Walt Disney Productions in the 1940s and 1950s.

But now the film studio finds itself fending off a chorus of accusations of racial stereotyping in its forthcoming big-budget cartoon, The Princess and The Frog: An American Fairy Tale, which marks a return to hand-drawn animation.

A musical set in 1920s New Orleans, the film was supposed to feature Maddy, a black chambermaid working for a spoilt, white Southern debutante. Maddy was to be helped by a voodoo priestess fairy godmother to win the heart of a white prince, after he rescued her from the clutches of a voodoo magician.

I can't make this stuff up.

Cleveland homeboy Jimi Izrael of The Root had my favorite take on this:
Holy Crap.

I can see why people are upset, but I think some are setting their expectations too high. Already there have been criticism that the feature panders to stereotypes and doesn’t the magical qualities of Disney tales of yore. Before we get all mushy, let’s keep in mind that many of those Disney Tales of yore were a more than a little racially insensitive, and I don’t know why would we expect Princess to be any different.

Izrael also has the solution, which echoes my earlier, broader laments about the lack of Black decision-making in the media:
Seems the way to circumvent that would be for a black animation company to simply produce their own Disney-like cartoons, so that there could be a more culturally balanced approach. Unfortunately, while there are a few ethno-centric ‘toons, no black animation companies with Disney power come to mind, so we’re stuck. The truth to tell, if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself.


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