Saturday, July 26, 2008

Let Disney Be Disney

I've shared my thoughts (thanks to News and Notes on NPR) about Disney's Black "Princess to be" quite a few times, but I'm starting to understand that my friends and family think I should be more vocal. I don't want to see Madame Tiana fall in love with a prince that doesn't share her heritage...but, um,'s Disney. I expect Disney to act like Disney.

The folks who kill off mommies in 82.87% of their stories (Belle, Jasmine, Nemo, Cinderella to name a few) aren't the people I'm relying on to get "it" right. The princess experience is one that we will forever be shaping as mothers and as families, and that job in a culture that is assaulted by the media daily is a very intense one.

In fact, I want Disney to get it right for their audience - the millions of little girls across the nation who aspire to be a princess - all of them. Regardless of color, culture, shade, religion, creed. I'm fine with Disney getting more rich and wealthy from this experience. Why? Then they'll make more movies and play with this topic over and over, and just of the Black princesses will steal my heart.

There is a part of me that wants to stand on my soapbox and talk about the need for us to produce our own stories, write about princesses, create the images we want for our daughters to see. Yet, when Matel released a beautiful Barbie in honor of the 100th Anniversary of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, we quickly started debates of color and complexion - not of affirmation and beauty. I think its the same with telling our stories, we should, some of us do, but many, many of us simply wag our fingers at every creative idea that comes to light. Is a Black princess overdue from Disney? Yes. Will there be errors in the story that challenge our since of culture? Yes. I would dare say that anyone who has seen a Disney film has realized that Disney fails, often - in a magnificent way. I loved Lilo and Stitch and remember all the scuttlebutt about the depection of the main characters - which my daughter and I just loved. Historically, physically, anatomically correct? Probably not. But, they make entertaining stories.

The name of the character has changed. The prince - changed. The fairy GodMother - changed. The images of the character - changed. Let's not think we can rewrite the Disney approach and guarantee that everyone is happy. They are using real pen/ink drawings, a true return to the graphic beginnings of the Disney Empire - and I can't wait to see them. There are many things worth exploring with Disney's attempt to diversify their line of beauties, and Anika Noni Rose promises to bring depth and voice to a young woman long overdue. As for me and mine - we'll enjoy whatever we can from this adventure. In the meantime, we'll be trying our hand at writing a few princess stories of our own too.

I introduce to of the beautiful and darling - Princess Lydia. I've got a lot to work with for stories, and maybe a few about the handsome Black prince too. (smile)

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