Disney's 'Moana' Gets Into More Controversy About Racism; Are Criticisms Going Overboard?
Before "Moana" even opens in theaters this November, the movie is already riddled with criticisms and controversy. Set in the Pacific Island and featuring Polynesians as lead characters, the film cannot escape conversations about racism. But could some of the criticisms be going overboard?
In June, "Moana" was slammed by critics for seemingly depicting one of its Polynesian character as obese, as Parent Herald reported. Some were offended that this was how Disney sees Polynesians. But there were also Polynesians who have come forward to defend the animation saying tht they do have big, strong built. It doesn't mean that they are obese or unhealthy.
Then in September, Disney released a "Moana" merchandise in time for Halloween and as part of its film promotions. The kid's Polynesian costume -- with the bone necklace, grass skirt and "fake brown skin" with tattoos -- drew flak from the public. Some said that the costume with fake brown skin was disrespectful to Polynesians in a way that putting on "black face" is offensive to African Americans, SBS reports.
There's an outcry over the fact that neither brown skin nor black face should be made into costumes. Disney immediately pulled out the merchandise from its stores.
"The team behind 'Moana' has taken great care to respect the cultures of the Pacific Islands that inspired the film, and we regret that the Maui costume has offended some." the company stated in its official statement, CNN Money reports. "We sincerely apologize and are pulling the costume from our website and stores."
The issues on how Disney has portrayed Polynesians in "Moana" have divided different indigenous groups in the Pacific Islands. The criticisms have overshadowed the fact that Disney is presenting a diversified princess animated movie this time around.
"Moana" is about a Polynesian teenager who meets the demigod Maui. They embark on an island adventure together, where Moana learns to embrace her heritage. The movie is voiced by Auli'i Cravalho, Dwanye Johnson, Nicole Scherzinger, Alan Tudyk and Jermaine Clement. It will be in theaters Nov. 23, 2016.