As much as I love that film, it’s extremely problematic, if not offensive to some Black people.
- Once again, Disney reinforced the idea that people of color can only star in movies about them when history allows it. Whereas all of the White princesses exist in their own geographically/historically ambiguous fantasy lands (for the most part, there might be a few references to specify here and there) , many of Disney’s PoC characters are restrained to historical settings. Is this a bad thing? No, not necessarily. But why couldn’t our first Black princess exist in her own fantastical kingdom, instead a time period of segregation?
- Our first Black princess … isn’t really a princess. She’s a poor waitress. To some extent one may argue that titling the film The Princess and the Frog is false advertising since Tiana doesn’t actually become a princess until like, the last five minutes of the film. Her White friend actually has more screen time as a “princess” than Tiana does. I’m not saying it’s bad to portray a hardworking Black woman, but … eh, I couldn’t help but feel that Tiana’s overall character was somewhat inspired by the “strong independent Black woman who don’t need no man” stereotype.
- Some would say it’s problematic that our first Black princess doesn’t have a Black prince. While I was personally refreshed to see Disney portray a PoC couple, I still acknowledge that Disney passed on a great opportunity to have a character for little Black boys to look up to.
- the portrayal of New Orleans Voodoo reflects that of the American stereotype of voodoo being “evil” and Satanic.
- And the most obvious part, Disney’s first Black princess spends half, if not the majority, of her respective film as a mucus-secreting green animal. Not ONE Disney princess received that treatment before Tiana. -__-
Let me tell you a story. Once at a party, I had all the little girls sitting around me and I was asking them about their favorite parts of all the princess movies. The birthday girl was sitting next to me, and tells me, “Princess, your skin is the same color as mine.” I smile and agree, and try to move the game along, but she interrupts and says, “Your skin is brown and you’re a princess. It’s the same color as mine, but you’re a princess.”
“Well, if my skin is brown and your skin is brown, and I’m a princess, then you must be a princess too.” I tell her. And then I spent the next 10 minutes assuring all the black girls at the party that yes, they have lovely skin and yes, they can be princesses with me.
This happens at most of the parties I go to. I have had my arm stroked, my hair patted, my skin color commented on more times than I can remember. I am not simply hired out to entertain a bunch of cute little girls dressed in poofy skirts who want to play with a big girl in a poofier skirt. I am hired out because I am an affirmation. For these little black girls (and boys! I’ve dazzled a few of them too) Princess Tiana is proof that for once, they can be special BECAUSE of the color of their skin, not IN SPITE OF.
Adding some of her pictures for emphasis.
We’ve featured pictures of this lovely Tiana before, but I wanted to add this post to the blog as well :)
TELL ME AGAIN HOW REPRESENTATION ISN’T IMPORTANT AND YOU MAY FIND A SIZE 13 TURNT SIDEWAYS UP YO ASS.
Costume Concepts from The Princess and the Frog
Costume Designs from The Princess and the Frog by Lorelay Bove
Costume Concepts for The Princess and the Frog
Storyboard for the Princess and the Frog
Costume Designs from The Princess and the Frog by Lorelay Bove
"Tiana’s concept art is so gorgeous. It’s funny that Disney didn’t put more effort into her hair when they were so proud of their work on Rapunzel and Merida’s hair…I’d wonder why but it’s probably the same reason that the one black princess is the princess that’s a frog for 85% of the movie"
So, you think that Disney is racist, and are so racist that they think that black people can’t have loose hair? Uh, no. Rapunzel’s hair is a HUGE part of her story and character development, of course they’d work hard on that. Merida’s hair was a huge factor of her in the advertisements, and is kind of a metaphor for her wild personality. As for Tiana, I doubt, I so highly doubt that her hair is up for most of the movie because Disney is racist. Tiana keeping her hair up shows her personality too, her hard-working personality, as it shows that she doesn’t want loose hair in her eyes or hair falling in her food when she cooks. And also, Merida and Rapunzel are CGI, and CGI hair usually has way more detail than 2D hair.
Finally, I still get annoyed when people hate on how Tiana is a frog for most of the movie. I honestly don’t see the racism in that, and I think it’s as good a story for their first black heroine as any.
Black hair (particularly black women’s hair) is stigmatized in Western society as dirty, or unkempt. Most ethnic styles of hair are frowned upon, such as Afros, twists, braids, puffs, and dreadlocks. This is subliminally carried into Princess and the Frog with the artists choosing (operative term) to keep Tiana’s hair back or up during her few minutes as a human on screen. There’s honestly no reason she could not have had her hair down, especially near the end.
And while computer animation can give you more details (one of the major pros of the medium), that doesn’t magic away the fact that the animators didn’t want to animate Tiana’s hair beyond a few bobs of her ponytail. Detail is not the issue here. Past Disney women whose hair also did not factor into the plots of their stories had very competently animated hair. And those were all hand-drawn.
So the medium has nothing to do with competent animation.
And I guess it’s good enough that the first black heroine (and only one as far as Disney is concerned) is not even human for nearly 85% of the her movie? Yeah, because that’s a respectful portrayal of a black woman: to have her be a frog for the majority of her film. And that’s especially memorable compared to her white counterparts whose screen time is never compromised and are able to keep their humanity throughout them.
I’mma let Pik handle this one because if I get involved, it WILL get ugly and fast. You can’t tell me SHIT regarding Disney and it’s treatment of Tiana and PatF in general. Truth be told, it was a move at least a decade too late to have the first (read: only) black Disney Princess… then they make her a goddamn singing and dancin’ The-WB styled anthropomorphic frog for most of her movie… which, for you ~true to the original~ purists, has FUCK ALL to do with the original fairy tale. Funny how that shit only matter when the protagonist is white. Like, the animation of PatF IS gorgeous… but Disney was afraid of doing any kind of texture of hair not ~silky and flowy~ (aka: reminiscent of white folks hair). Black people’s hair moves in the breeze too… just differently. Our texture is different but it’s still HAIR and if Disney, the company who has animated every goddamn thing under the fucking sun, can’t animate black hair in 2D then WHO THE FUCK CAN? Is Disney ~the epitome of animation~ or not? Make up y’all goddamn minds.