Disney Delivers New Movies that Leave an Impact

Angelina Abdelrahman, Editorial Writer

Since its inception, Disney has produced countless movies that do not represent various races, ethnicities, and cultures. Furthermore, many of the Disney princesses created were not culturally diverse, which has caused many types of communities to feel under-represented in the Disney world. Nevertheless, in recent years, there has been a shift in Disney movie releases. The company is now shedding light on diverse cultures that had not been established in previous films.

In particular, the movie Moana, released in 2016, illustrates a Polynesian Disney princess and her journey to save the people in her hometown, the island of Motunui in Hawaii. When this movie hit theaters, many individuals appreciated the representation of Polynesian culture in a Disney princess, something that was not seen before. Hinano Murphy collaborated with Disney on the production of the movie to maintain the authenticity of the Polynesian culture represented in the film. She was interviewed by Vanity Fair to speak on the production of the movie and in an article, they described how Murphy felt about the film.

“Murphy broke into tears when discussing how important Moana felt, both to her and her culture,” Vanity Fair depicts.

Murphy was not the only contributor to the authenticity of Polynesian culture. American animation directors John Musker and Ron Clements researched the Polynesian culture. They took a trip to Polynesia and collaborated with various individuals such as historians, practitioners, and choreographers from various islands in Hawaii that contributed to the production of the songs within Moana. As a result of the immense amount of research on culture, when the movie was released, individuals felt the protagonist Moana was a representative of their culture.

“Young women who are dressing as Moana even before the movie has come out, who just feel a connection to her as they see her represented in the film,” Murphy comments.

Moana is not the only movie Disney has recently released that represents various backgrounds. Disney is taking an alternative approach with the casting of the live-action Little Mermaid, which will be released in May of 2023.

Disney is casting Ariel as an African American woman named Halle Bailey. This announcement has contributed to the feeling of fulfillment and appreciation from African American people.

“It was an inspiring and beautiful thing to hear their words of encouragement telling me, ‘You don’t understand what this is doing for us, for our community, for all the little black and brown girls who are going to see themselves in you,” Halle Bailey said in an interview with Variety in 2022.

Although an entire community of individuals is ready for the release of the movie there has been racist backlash against the film. Individuals believe that an African American woman should not play a character who is portrayed as a white being in the animated version of the film.

“It doesn’t make a lot of sense to have someone with darker skin who lives deep in the ocean,” Malt Walsh comments on a 2022 episode of The Matt Walsh Show.

This is a ridiculous portrayal of science because mermaids are fictional, this claim is non-defensible and foreshadows racism. Casting an African American woman as Ariel should not cause individuals to feel hurt or obligated not to watch the movie because of her skin color. Nevertheless, individuals feel wronged by Disney and have gone out of their way to create a hashtag going against the film.

“You guys decided to ignore the audience’s opinion and go on with this silly decision for no reason. The best thing we can do is not go to the cinemas #NotMyAriel,” Ana Clara Gomez replies to Disney’s tweet of The Little Mermaid teaser.

The amount of racism seeping through as a result of the teaser of this movie is ridiculous. The movie has not been released and there has been so much backlash and hate towards the production. The casting of The Little Mermaid should not be overanalyzed or disliked because it provides representation for African American girls who have rarely seen individuals who look like them on TV. Ariel is widely liked by little girls of all races and backgrounds, so having her cast as an African American woman fabricates happiness.

Little girls are excited for this to be the first live-action Disney princess movie to portray their background and race.

“She’s like me!,” the daughter of Daniela Sow reacts in a Tik Tok video after watching the teaser.

The race of the actor should not affect viewership or opinion on the movie, various backgrounds have the right to be represented and spoken of after years of having movie companies deny every race and background other than white people.

Various producers and big companies like Disney need to produce films that have diversity and highlight various cultures, traditions, races, and ethnicities. For a long time, white people have been the main group of individuals that have been represented and highlighted by not only Disney but various other movie companies. It is now the time for all these companies to start producing and creating movies that incorporate everyone and step out of their comfort zone to speak about countless races, cultures, traditions, ethnicities, religions, and beliefs.