Anonymous asked: Why is Princess and the frog problematic?
As much as I love that film, it’s extremely problematic, if not offensive to some Black people.
- Once again, Disney reinforced the idea that people of color can only star in movies about them when history allows it. Whereas all of the White princesses exist in their own geographically/historically ambiguous fantasy lands (for the most part, there might be a few references to specify here and there) , many of Disney’s PoC characters are restrained to historical settings. Is this a bad thing? No, not necessarily. But why couldn’t our first Black princess exist in her own fantastical kingdom, instead a time period of segregation?
- Our first Black princess … isn’t really a princess. She’s a poor waitress. To some extent one may argue that titling the film The Princess and the Frog is false advertising since Tiana doesn’t actually become a princess until like, the last five minutes of the film. Her White friend actually has more screen time as a “princess” than Tiana does. I’m not saying it’s bad to portray a hardworking Black woman, but … eh, I couldn’t help but feel that Tiana’s overall character was somewhat inspired by the “strong independent Black woman who don’t need no man” stereotype.
- Some would say it’s problematic that our first Black princess doesn’t have a Black prince. While I was personally refreshed to see Disney portray a PoC couple, I still acknowledge that Disney passed on a great opportunity to have a character for little Black boys to look up to.
- the portrayal of New Orleans Voodoo reflects that of the American stereotype of voodoo being “evil” and Satanic.
- And the most obvious part, Disney’s first Black princess spends half, if not the majority, of her respective film as a mucus-secreting green animal. Not ONE Disney princess received that treatment before Tiana. -__-
I’m just gonna go straight through the list, because otherwise I’m not sure if I’d hit all of the points.
On time and place of movies: I really think you need to go do some fact checking, because most of the Disney movies have a specific place and a general time period where they’re set, with the Disney extension of ‘magic included’-which is Tiana’s world as well. The location is based upon a couple of things: where the author of the original tale was from, indicators in the story that point to a specific place, etc. There’s a very helpful list stating approximately where and when each story is set, if you like. And I’m sure you’ve seen the 'Historically Accurate Disney Women' art around.
And Disney set it in 1920s New Orleans because of the rich and colorful environment. Originally, it actually was going to be set in Africa (I can’t remember if a specific country was named or if it was going to be fantasy/ahistorical), but then people raised a stink about the ‘racism’ in having an ‘African princess’ for some weirdo reason that I can’t quite comprehend the logic behind, so they moved it to New Orleans (personally, I would have LOVED to have had it set somewhere in Africa, but…).
As for ‘false advertising’ would you like me to reel off the princesses that weren’t princesses for the majority of their movies and only became so by marrying at the end? Because I can. Cinderella being the most significant….hmmm…I wonder what kind of parallels we can draw between the two of them.. (hint: they’re both poor-though in different ways- and work extremely hard, both basically ‘survive’ on dreams-though again, in different ways, and both get their dreams in the end, among other things).
Belle and Cinderella ‘weren’t really princesses’ as you say, until the last 5 minutes of their films, where they married the prince. If you’re REALLY going to bitch about that, I suggest you take a closer look at the movies you’re critiquing.
I won’t comment on the PoC prince/mixed-race couple, because I semi-agree with you, though I actually commend Disney for doing a mixed-race couple, which they’d only done…I think once before (with Pocahontas/John Smith). Correct me if I’m wrong on that, though.
…I’m seriously beginning to wonder if we saw the same film. Much as in previous movies where magic is portrayed, both the light and dark sides of voodoo are seen, with Mama Odie representing the light and good and Doctor Facilier representing the dark and evil. It’s only reinforcing the stereotype in that it acknowledges that the ‘evil’ is a part of voodoo, and that the light and good voodoo portrayed in the character of Mama Odie is acknowledging that there are both sides to voodoo, just like…wow, every other kind of magic. It was a very nuanced approach, actually.
And no, no other ‘Disney Princess’ has spent the majority of her film as an animal, but then again, the ‘Disney Princess’ lineup/merch line has only existed since 2000, after all the princesses but Tiana, Rapunzel, and now Merida already had their movies. And you want to know who DID spend the majority of their film transformed into an animal? The Beast. Also, pretty much every single movie of the 2000s decade had the ‘humans transformed into animals’ plot or revolved around animals, save Meet the Robinsons. They started out the decade with Dinosaur, the The Emperor’s New Groove, then Lilo & Sitich, Brother Bear, Home on the Range, Chicken Little, and Bolt. That’s…what, 7 movies? You know, it really shouldn’t have been a surprise that the Princess and the Frog was a transformation movie, given that ALMOST EVERY OTHER DISNEY MOVIE OF THE DECADE REVOLVED AROUND THAT. Also, The Frog Prince? Duh? Like, that was kinda the whole point of the original fairytale the movie was based off of?
(This is why I should’n’t go look up old posts for the purpose of answering other questions, lol.)
Admittedly you have made some fair points, but I still stand by my original statements.
Firstly, I’d like to emphasize that in this critique I am only really comparing The Princess and the Frog to other Disney Princess films. The Disney Princesses are their own franchise, their own genre of films within Disney you would say, and are worthy of individual critique.
- That list is very helpful, but be honest, other than the WoC Disney Princess films, how many of their stories are heavily influenced by where they live, if it is even explicitly stated? If it hadn’t been mentioned once or twice in song lyrics that Beauty and the Beast takes place in France, would you really have known they were in France? I think Cinderella mentions taking place in France like once too, but come on, at the same time didn’t they just paint the kingdom as being ambiguously fairytale-ish? Would you really have known Snow White was in Germany unless you read the original fairytale? Would you really have known Ariel was in Denmark? All I’m saying is the Disney has a habit of placing their WoC princesses in very specific time periods/geographical settings that would greatly influence their treatment if they were being “historically accurate”.
- Okay, but do Belle and Cinderella have the word “princess” in the respective titles of their films? Beauty and the Beast and Cinderella respectively, so no. Although looking back at my critique written by my then fifteen-year-old self, calling it “false advertising” might be a stretch, but you have to admit it’s eyebrow-quirk worthy that our “first Black princess” from The Princess and the Frog spends very little time as a princess, whereas her white friend spends more screen time as technical royalty than she.
- If memory serves me correct, Disney has had four interracial movie couples so far, Tiana and Naveen being the most recent. The other three being Pocahontas & John Smith, Esmeralda & Phoebus, and Milo & Kida. (And…..maybe Peter Pan and Tiger Lily if you wanna go really deep? Although they shared nothing more than a dance and nose-rubbing, puppy love really.)
- That’s a very valid point you’ve made about Mama Odie, but as someone who actually practices Voodoo, the negative portrayal of Voodoo in the film struck a particularly bad cord for me, because Voodoo is already demonized so much by American society. I really don’t feel Mama Odie’s “light side” of Voodoo overcame the negative portrayal of Voodoo as a whole that plays such a significant role in the story. (Plus Mama Odie is in like… two (?) scenes?)
- as for the last point ….. I dunno, it still strikes me as an interesting choice for Disney to make their first Black “princess” an animal for the majority of her respective film. Out of all the changes they could have made to the original story …. yeah, just an interesting decision, I suppose.
Although for the most part I disagree with you, I really appreciate your intelligent and note-worthy deconstruction of my original critique.
- Admin C
(But a small PS: despite how much I hate tone policing, if that’s even applicable in this case, I have to say, was it really necessary to refer to my legitimate criticism as “bitch[ing]”? That was just a tad uncalled for IMO. But still, fair points were made.)
Anastasia was poor for most of her movie. Mulan wasn’t a princess, so idk if she counts.
And I LOVE that it’s set in N.O. The movie captured the essence of a very “black” city that is rich with culture, and I appreciated it.
Anastasia is not a Disney movie. Mulan was a warrior and even upon her marriage to Shang (in the sequel, I forget if they actually show them getting married or not, but they were planning the wedding), she still wouldn’t be a princess because Shang wasn’t a prince. Regardless Disney chose Mulan to be in the official Disney Princess lineup because she is a popular and marketable heroine from a successful film.