Sunday, December 13, 2009

"Have you noticed how many black people are here?"

Last night we went to see The Princess and the Frog, famously promoted as Disney's first African-American princess movie. We had to stand in line for quite a long time to get into the theatre because there had been a private showing for the Delta Sigma Theta sorority, one of the largest African-American sororities, and it took them FOREVER to ready the theatre again for the next show.

As we were waiting, Zoe leans over to me and says in a confidential tone, "Have you noticed how many black people are here?" I said I had noticed (85-90% of those waiting were black). Zoe then asked, "Do you think it's because the princess is black?" I told her I thought that was a pretty good observation, and that maybe African-Americans were excited about a black princess just like she was excited about seeing Mulan. "That's what I thought," said Zoe.

After the movie we had a chance to talk in more detail about how she and Maya feel about the books they've read and movies they've seen that had characters who looked they them, or who were adopted. And we talked about how it might feel to never see anyone who looks like you in books and movies.

This is not to say that the Princess and the Frog is free from problems in the race and culture department -- this article at Love Isn't Enough does a good job of analyzing the many issues -- but it's no better and no worse than any of the other Disney "multicultural" attempts, I'd say.

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