Tag Archives: disney princess

Why ‘Moana’ Matters

2 Dec

Disney delivered on its latest princess adventure, and box office sales definitely reflect the public’s engagement with the film. Promotional materials promised Moana to be a high-seas adventure for all ages, focusing on a fiercely independent young woman discovering who she was meant to be.

The film’s cast of incredibly gifted vocal actors brings each character to life (even Alan Tudyk’s HeiHei the chicken). The music unifies the film in a way unparalleled since Randy Newman constructed the New Orleans soundscape of Princess and the Frog. Young Auli’i Cravalho elegantly represents an entire people group untouched by Disney (with the exception of Lilo and Stitch).

However, with popular success comes comparison. How did it stack up against Disney’s latest behemoth, Frozen? Does it live up to the hype? Will she be a good role model for young kids?

The one review most unnerving for many is the notion that Moana and other princess of color are the same. “Moana is just Pocahontas with water.” “Moana isn’t anything new.” Anyone who leaves Moana with that understanding missed the entire film.

Sure, teenage Moana shares characteristics with many Disney princesses. She and Pocahontas understand the weight of coming from prominent families and the implications of continuing a legacy for the sake of a community. She, Belle and Mulan know what it’s like to share a bond with their fathers. Moana, Mulan and Pocahontas have tight-knit bonds with their grandmother figures (because, ya know, Grandmother Willow isn’t exactly human…). Pocahontas sang about going just beyond the riverbend, and Moana dreamed of what lies just beyond the ocean’s horizon.

But Moana’s story delivers so much more. 

Moana offers a fresh narrative to the Disney princess line: adventure often comes at a cost. This is something we’ve yet to see a Disney princess struggle with understanding. Adventure to Moana means more than just escaping the palace walls for a stroll around the marketplace. It’s more weighty than wanting to shoot for her own hand in marriage. Moana’s decision to leave her family stems from following the rawest desires a person has, not just an adventure forced upon her by impending conflict. Sure, Moana had to return the stone. However, we all know that Moana would’ve escaped to the ocean eventually, with or without a quest.

This differs from any other princess we’ve seen. Mulan set out to save her father and family’s honor. Anna ventured into the snow to save her sister. Pocahontas defied her father for the sake of knowledge and to experience love.

Moana is the first princess who acted largely for herself. It’s a character arc historically saved for males.

Moana might be the first case of a true female bildungsroman in the Disney canon. 

So, while Moana might have traces of other Disney princesses (as those Disney princesses had traces of others in them), she truly does more for the brand than any other princess before her. Not only does she represent a culture largely ignored by the Disney company, she represents a revolutionary new path for any female Disney lead.

I could go on about the lush scenery, the stellar music, the meaningful dialogue between Moana and Gramma Tala, the detailed and stunning representations of Polynesian culture. However, the biggest recommendation I could make is this: Moana means more for kids than just being another princess movie. Take your daughters, take your sons, take your teenagers, take your grandparents, take everyone you know.

The message is both timeless and timely: take hold of your adventure, look beyond the horizon and you’ll go far. 

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Disney Princess as ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ Characters

15 Jan

Because why not have a light saber and a tiara?

Rey/ Rapunzel: Both are adventurous and gifted with powers they don’t understand. They search for a family bond they’ve never known. Unconventional tools and fighting skills that make their unassuming persona more threatening. punzie_pan rey

 

Poe Dameron/ Mulan: Flawless tactician with the coolest sidekick in the movie. They somehow survive despite having an entire army out to kill them.   mulan  poe

Finn/ Ariel: Both long to be where others will understand them and will risk life and limb to accomplish that freedom. Stubborn and somewhat reluctant to have others take control, and ultimately, their love interest saves them in the end.

Kylo Ren/ Elsa: Tempermental and cold-hearted yet sells more merchandise than most other characters combined. Oh, and *SPOILER* they have a penchant for fatally wounding their relatives. (Sorry, I went there.)

kylo_renelsa

R2D2/ Aurora: Classic character who sleeps through most of the movie and only wakes up when absolutely necessary.   r2d2

General Leia Organa/ Pocahontas: Incredible leadership skills with a soft spot for ruggedly handsome, snarky men. pocahontasleia

Chewbacca/ Merida: Ace marksmen who look out for their non-traditional families. Slightly unruly hair and very thick accents. chewy merida

I struggled to find a princess worthy of Han Solo (let’s be real, he’s a princess in his own right). Help me out and leave comments below as to which princess could fill Han Solo’s boot.

Disney’s First Latina Princess

29 Jan

The first Latina princess is joining Disney Junior in Sophia the First before getting her own animated series.

Courtesy of Disney

Bienvenido a Disney, Elena! The rest of the Disney fandom collectively says “It’s about time!”

Elena of Avalor would be the first time an animated princess gets a show prior to her own film. Elena is a 16-year-old who was imprisoned in the amulet Sophia wears in the show.

A logical plot for either her TV show or a movie would be how she got trapped in the necklace. Could the series document her life in Avalor/adventures in returning to her kingdom a la Rapunzel to her parents?

It’s clearly too early to tell what Disney will do with this new concept, especially with a distinct gender-neutral focus on films/shows after the success of princess movies.

And for all those fans who thought Sophia was the first Latina princess… apparently we were mistaken. Disney reps have confirmed Elena holds the title, not the ambiguously-ethnic Sophia.

Elena will make her debut in 2016, and a series will hopefully follow shortly after.

What do you think of Elena joining the ranks of princesses? How do you think she’ll compete with Moana’s movie due around the same time? Sound off the comments below!