Monday, March 30, 2009
In the fall of 2009 Disney will finally release the long-awaited Frog Princess, renamed to The Princess and the Frog, featuring their first-ever full-fledged black princess. The upcoming makeover of the previously announced animation also includes a renaming of the Princess from Maddy to Tiana, the elimination of her past as a chambermaid to a white socialite, and the addition of Oprah Winfrey as the voice of Tiana’s mother.
All the controversy, however, has not been handled. It seems that the Prince himself is a white-looking guy, with the hint of Spanish in his accent. What? No black prince? What’s up with this?
You can bet there’s going to be a whole lot of yammering from all sides as we near the release date. Black folks will be crying that Disney does not think black-on-black love is marketable to little white girls, or their parents. On the other hand, some white folks will be saying that Disney is trying to push interracial ideas into the head of little white girls (and boys), as part of some PC conspiracy for them to feel bad about their whiteness. I’m leaning towards yammer no. 1, since Disney has historically come down on the side of marginalizing blacks.
On a slightly darker vector, it may be interesting to consider that little white girls associating with Tiana, in Disney’s view, might not swallow the Princess or themselves swooning over a handsome black prince. Or perhaps Disney does not want the future mothers of dwindling white America being imprinted so early in their lives with the notion of a black suitor. Disney may not want to take the blame for an up-tick in interracial marriages in about 15 or 20 years.
These are just a few thoughts on the upcoming debate, sure to get testy. And for the empirical record, my daughter loved Pocahontas, as a 5 year old, and has had an equal amount of black and white boy-crushes over the ensuing years – and I blame it all on Disney. My 13 year old son still falls into Harry Potter-speak, and this is Disney’s fault too, although they had nothing to do with the movie. Disney makes an easy target, as they have been manipulating kids, and parental coffers, from the get-go.
James C. Collier
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