Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Another nail in the coffin...

I've been longing for innocence, lately. In a way, I think that's why I'm a writer anyway. Specifically a YA writer.

I'm sure the average teen would hardly consider themselves "innocent." After all, many are quite worldly. But you never realize how innocent you are until you realize you aren't anymore.

As a kid it didn't matter to me that the stories I loved so much didn't have one Brown face in them. Didn't matter a whit. I escaped into them, saw myself in their place. It didn't matter how they looked, what they went through I was going through with them.

But now, as an adult I'm constantly offended by the lack of diversity in mainstream anything - TV, film, books, anything. Because the lack of color makes me feel invisible in a way that I never ever felt when reading or watching TV as a kid.

So it's with great joy and, yes, some amount of frustration that I await Disney's, The Princess and the Frog.

Joy because it's about time.

And frustration because, what the hell took so long?!

Disney has Jasmine (Arabian), Mulan (Asian), Pocohontas (American Indian) and Ariel (Mermaid...oh, that's not a race, is it?). So where has the Black princess been all these years? Where?!

Should it matter anymore? Let's pretend it doesn't for a second because I'd rather focus on the fact that my daughters will see a Disney movie that depicts them as the princess. It's especially important for my five year old because, she's just now starting to distinguish race, a practice that can be somewhat embarrassing when she calls out in the store, Mommy, that white woman...


But cut her some slack. She's just trying to put the whole different shades thing into context. And in our house context is, race doesn't matter. Something I can say til I'm blue in the face, but it doesn't mean much if things outside our home don't reinforce it.

So this Disney movie means more than some may know.

Althought, let me be clear, my daughters already think they're princesses. We have an oddly significant amount of tiara's in the house because they buy them every chance they get. And I guess it doesn't help that my husband and I treat them like they're royalty sometimes (lazy, spoiled kids).

But still, that's as it should be with any parent/child. We want them to feel special.

The problem lies in the reality they're faced when images reflected back to them from TV and magazines tells them - Oh you're beautiful to your parents but this is what AMERICA deems beautiful. This, right here and it ain't you.

So I wish great box office success for The Princess and the Frog.

So ONCE more we can squash the myth that black folk don't go see movies AND that white folk won't go see a movie with a black protagonist.

The more nails we can put in those coffins the better.

Check out the trailer here.


Blogger Karen Strong said...

My god-daughter is also 5 years old and she went as Princess Tiana for Halloween. She's SO excited about this movie.

It's going to be so great for girls to see a Disney cartoon with a princess that looks like them.

11:14 PM  
OpenID georgiamcbridebooks said...

Thanks for the post, Paula. I was laughing so hard when I read "Mermaid." It will be really interesting to see how the movie does. It is also interesting that from what I understand, for MUCH of the film, the princess is actually a frog. But it is a step in the right direction. My daughter (who is bi-racial) and I cannot wait to see it.

9:55 AM  
Blogger Paula said...

I don't doubt that there will be some future discussion about Disney's choice to make their first Black princess a frog through the bulk of the movie. Conspiracy theorists may even think this was the only way the movie could get a green light.

While I'm not among them, I'm also jaded enough to believe that facet of the movie is not a coincidence.

10:05 AM  

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