December 11, 2009

The Princess and The Frog- Before

This post had me a bit apprehensive about the Princess and the Frog. The author,Scott Foundas, states that story runs rampant with stereotypes. The article basically reflects that the story doesn't combat the Jim Crow laws that were created in the south. Since I have yet to see the movie, I can only speak on what I want the movie to be and hopefully what I expect to see when I go see this movie on the 12 with my mom's sorority.

I think Disney has taken on an ambitious project with creating an African-American princess and returning to 2-D. The last couple big premieres were basically flops. Treasure Planet, while going overboard on scenery porn, didn't really hit me the way most disney movies do. In fact, I fell asleep. I'm not sure what it was missing. I haven't seen any 2-D movies in theatres since the Emperor's New Groove and while I love the movie, I would have liked to get my mother's money back and possibly spent it on something tangible.

The Disney Princess franchise capitalizes on two marketable things, fairy tales and music. If you can find a fairytale that is accessible enough and still can be retold in a way that makes it somewhat fresh you have half of a good story. If you can have catchy songs that kids can sing to drive their parents crazy, their parents eventually get it stuck in their heads, and next thing you know you have an entire generation still singing songs from movies like Aladdin, The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and more.

With the Princess and the Frog, I'm expecting a cute story about love and good catchy music. I'm more excited about Disney's return to 2-D because when Enchanted came out, I went ape-shit over the animation and remembered why I loved Disney movies in the first place. I hope the art of 2-D animation never leaves, but they are going to have to amp it up with innovative storylines to compete with CG movies.

The story takes place in the Jazz Age and Foundas states "Whatever the year, we are firmly in the grips of "separate but equal"—a reality the movie barely acknowledges." This is an interesting point, but have we ever known Disney to be historically accurate? I think Disney should make more of a push to be historically accurate and I think they tried by making Tiana originally a girl named Maddy who worked as a maid. That's not bad is it? I don't think so. That's probably very accurate. But apparently the watchdog group that Foundas mentions had them change the character into a girl named Tiana, because this is 2009 after all. I think I know the reason why the story is not as historically accurate as Foundas probably wants though.

So let's say that the movie was historically accurate. Tiana and Naveen go through the whole ordeal in the bayou and then can't be together because he's lighter than she is. Naveen goes after Charlotte a "very white, very blonde, and very rich BFF" of Tiana, but she can't be with him because we don't know what he ethnically(he's probably Creole). So in the end, Tiana can't acheive anything because she's black and a woman and Naveen is probably lynched because he went after a white woman.

I don't think we can put Tiana in any other time period other than the Jazz Age.  We couldn't put Tiana too far back because she'd either be a slave or be in Africa(Lion King?). We couldn't put Tiana in the 1950's-1970's because that was a radical time for America in all aspects and not the setting for a Disney Princess. We couldn't put her in this day and age because we'd lose that old world charm that the Disney Princess movies have. Where else could we put Tiana but the Jazz Age, accuracy aside, it was a time of freedom and innovation and even though Jim Crow laws were in place, some people still thrived and I think that was what the creators of the movie wanted to grasp at.

Foundas states "that Disney's first black "princess" lives in a world where the ceiling on black ambition is firmly set at the service industries." What exactly is wrong with this? I mean in this day and age, we know that isn't true. I see the point that Foundas is trying to make that showing a Disney Princess as wanting to be a food service worker might inspire girls to settle for something like that. I don't know exactly, but from what I gather so far, Tiana wants to be a chef and open her own restaurant. Given the laws of the land, that might be a far-fetched dream in that day and age. I have yet to see the movie, so I'm not so sure how far this goes or how it's handled. I don't see how owning your own business could tell girls that they have to settle for anything. If your dream is to own your own restaurant, what is wrong with that? Having a dream in an age like that, the fact that we've come so far that girls can dream up anything they want to be, is what Disney is trying to accomplish. Hell, we've seen a Mermaid become a human, a Beast become a man, why can't we see a girl wanting to own her own business a restaurant?

I'll probably write a review on my impressions of the movie after I see the movie. I'm excited because I love 2D animation. My impression now based on this review, I'd say that keeping true to the Disney tradition is what Disney should stick to doing. I don't want a movie that isn't supposed to be political to touch on the horrors of the south. There are other movies for that and I don't believe The Princess and the Frog should be that movie.

As for accuracy, I think they could touch on it a bit but not dwell on it. I haven't seen the movie yet, but based on this review it's hinted at but not explicitly said. Good, I think it should stay this way. We all know that fairy tales don't exist and we know that some talking frogs didn't go through a wild tour of the bayou. That's not what the movie is supposed to be about. I don't want to be beaten over the head with "You can't do that because you're black." or "You can't do this because you're a woman." or even worse, "You can't do this and that because you're a black woman". I and many others, experience this everyday, why would we want to watch this in a movie. A Disney Movie of all things. A Disney Princess movie above allt hat. The crux of the new Disney Princess franchise is love, independence, and reaching your dreams (which explain all of the numerous Cinderella sequels of her being more proactive) and if Tiana doesn't achieve this, whether she be any ethnicity, then Disney hasn't stuck to it's tradition.

I remember the days of playing Disney Princesses, someone wanted to be Belle, someone else wanted to be Ariel, and I had to choose Jasmine (who's a pretty kick ass Disney Princess to be honest). I wasn't sad about it, but I did notice that it was rather odd that they didn't have a Black Disney Princess. I think if Disney wants the Princess Franchise to be even more successful, they need to represent girls of all races and ethnicities and backgrounds and personalities. I think so far, the fact that Tiana is in their ranks and is not a "is she a princess or isn't she a princess" (like Mulan or Pocahontas), is a step in the right direction.


Related Posts with Thumbnails