People sometimes think too much. Especially readers of the New York Times.
An editorial in that famed newspaper (and one that I admit, I love to mock) discusses the criticism being aimed at Disney's upcoming film, "The Princess and the frog," that features Disney's first Black princess.
Okay, raise your hand if you guessed that ultimately the plot line is that a princess - after undergoing trials and tribulations of some ilk, with just enough danger to make a 7-year-old girl's eyes grow wide - finds true love with her prince. And they and the folks at Disney merchandising live happily ever after.
The film, directed by Ron Clements and John Musker, two of the men behind “The Little Mermaid,” unfolds against a raucous backdrop of voodoo and jazz. Tiana, a waitress and budding chef who dreams of owning a restaurant, is persuaded to kiss a frog who is really a prince.The spell backfires and — poof! — she is also an amphibian. Accompanied by a Cajun firefly and a folksy alligator, the couple search for a cure.
I thought so.
So, what's to criticize?
After viewing some photographs of merchandise tied to the movie, which is still unfinished, Black Voices, a Web site on AOL dedicated to African-American culture, faulted the prince’s relatively light skin color.“Disney obviously doesn’t think a black man is worthy of the title of prince,” Angela Bronner Helm wrote March 19 on the site. “His hair and features are decidedly non-black. This has left many in the community shaking their head in befuddlement and even rage.”
Yeah, and Obama's mama was a white chick - is he black enough? My God, if this is evoking "rage," I guess racism is dead in America because this crap is taking up people's attention.
“Disney should be ashamed,” William Blackburn, a former columnist at The Charlotte Observer, told London’s Daily Telegraph. “This princess story is set in New Orleans, the setting of one of the most devastating tragedies to beset a black community.”
I guess Mr. Blackburn has never been to Disneyland with its Orleans Square. Nor does he understand marketing, because Eight Mile in Detroit just doesn't sell. I am trying to think of a locale where the Black community was not beset by a tragedy, or any community for that matter, and come up with . . . nothing.
Of course, armchair critics have also been complaining about the princess. Disney originally called her Maddy (short for Madeleine). Too much like Mammy and thus racist. A rumor surfaced on the Internet that an early script called for her to be a chambermaid to a white woman, a historically correct profession. Too much like slavery.“Because of Disney’s history of stereotyping,” said Michael D. Baran, a cognitive psychologist and anthropologist who teaches at Harvard and specializes in how children learn about race, “people are really excited to see how Disney will handle her language, her culture, her physical attributes.”
And she eats chitlins'! Okay, I don't know if she does, but let's scrutinize what she does eat in the movie (although if she was turned into a frog, I'm guessing flies for the most part), what she wears, how she walks, etc. to make certain that Disney's "history of stereotyping" is upheld.
Of course Disney "stereotypes," you morons! This is based on a fairy tale, and in fairy tales characters are always larger than life because it makes for a better story. Little girls like to hear about how the princess got her prince. Oh yeah, it's sexist, I suppose, that it teaches them they have to have a man to be fulfilled, but you know, I think it's really about being able to dress up and, the little magpies that they are, put on something shiny and glittery.
I go to Disneyland with some frequency and I can tell you, I have seen little White girls dressed as Mulan, I have seen Black girls dressed as Belle, I have seen Asian girls dressed as Ariel, I have seen grown men dressed as Cinderella . . . oh, wait, that was West Hollywood last June . . . look, my point is that kids don't generally look to race to identify with a fictional character. In fact, I suspect most kids do not even consider it but choose the character whose story they like. What makes a little boy want to be Yoda over Luke Skywalker? Beats me - maybe the green skin, maybe because he's 900 years old, who knows?
No kid is enthralled by the story of how the Brave Accountant found an error and increased the company's return on investment by two percent. And neither are we adults. We want heroes, we want villains, we want damsels in distress - because it is entertaining.
Now just shut up and buy the t-shirt, will ya?