Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Reel Facts & Opinions: Disney's New Princess

Last weekend, Disney made major headlines when they rolled out their future plans at their biennial expo known as D23. Perhaps lost amongst all the excitement over the news over Marvel, Pixar, and STAR WARS (read Reel Speak’s recap HERE), was the news concerning their upcoming 2016 animated musical film, MOANA. 

The film, slated for a November release, tells the story of a Pacific-Island princess who tries to complete her parents’ quest to find a fabled island which holds the secret to saving her people’s culture. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is set to play a Hawaiian demi-god, and the film will be directed by Disney veterans John Musker and Ron Clements (ALADDIN, THE LITTLE MERMAID). 

It sounds like the standard Disney fare we’ve been seeing for the past several decades; princess, quest, etc…but this time the House that the Mouse built is breaking down boundaries. In MOANA, (named after the title character) the princess is not only a non-white female protagonist, but according to the information released by Disney…is not a princess who falls in love. 

The role of a Disney princess, from SNOW WHITE to CINDERELLA to RAPUNZEL, have had a difficult time breaking out of the role of being an adorable girl who accidently does something to save the day, and falls in love with a handsome prince in the process. The type of female representation in Disney’s early films reflected founder Walt Disney’s personal feelings about family life, and it was so successful that the studio built a template which it reverted to for 75 years of films and other mass media storytelling. It may have worked very well and given generations of young girls something to look up to (although that has been debated as well), but in today’s age where there is a call for equal rights and for female heroes on the screen (read Reel Speak’s blogs on the issue HERE and HERE), it makes sense for Disney to get with the times. Adapt or die, as they say. 

The issue just doesn’t begin and end with female characters. In 2012 their Pixar production BRAVE, featured Pixar’s first female protagonist, and had the first female director for a Pixar flick (co-directed by Brenda Chapman). When the women on the screen aren’t portrayed as helpless, then perhaps the women in real-life won’t be either. Everyone loves a princess, and they shouldn’t go away forever, but a princess who can save the day…that’s even better. 


MOANA is set to arrive on November 23rd, 2016. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

A few rules:
1. Personal attacks not tolerated.
2. Haters welcome, if you can justify it.
3. Swearing is goddamn OK.