Friday, August 8, 2008


It's no secret that, while conflicted about it, I am somewhat of a Disney groupie. Since I saw Lady and the Tramp when I was about 5, ( and when it's good, it's not all good) I've been hooked. (I also know at least two songs from every Disney musical ever made but shhhh...don't tell anybody).

So bear with me as I pause (kind of) to pass judgement on this new Disney film set in New Orleans featuring the first Black female princess. Not even out yet, The Princess and The Frog is already stirring controversy, as Disney literally had to go back to the drawing board after
originally making her a god damn maid. (Some studio exec probably rationalized: Hey, Cinderella was a maid! No one had a problem with that!)

So she's no longer a maid but the fact that it's set in a place and time where technically, princesses can't really exist bothers me. Why can't little black girls wander off into far away lands of unspecified origin in their daydreams instead of colonial America? Black people love escapist fantasy just as much as the next person. And even though Disney will make a killing off of the marketing and merchandise of this film because parents will buy their kids anything, isn't it a little too late for hand drawn animation? Wouldn't this have fared better pre-Pixar, say right after Mulan?

And then I come to what I know will ultimately piss me off about this film. The buck toothed, slack jawed, Sambo-like insect that I guess is supposed to invoke fond memories of Jiminy Cricket or Sebastian the crab but really is just some of the most ridiculous, stereotypical shit I have ever seen. I won't post any links to the trailer here, as I have already (unsuccessfully) tried not to pass judgement. Google it, and see for yourself.

And let me end with saying that Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters was and still is one of the most beautifully written, illustrated and imaginative children's books ever written. It should be required reading for every black mother who would like to have her daughter not grow up with identity/ self-esteem issues. (worked for me!) The story has romance, a handsome prince, drama, intrigue, talking animals and it's set in Africa. It's gorgeous and I've always thought it should be adapted to the big screen. But then again, if passed through the unrelenting stereotype machine that is American cinema, the end result would be nothing like the original. But I digress. Actually I don't.