Disney Introduces More Diverse Disney Princesses with ‘Moana’
If there is one thing that’s undeniable about our culture, it’s the super popularity of Disney princesses. Since Snow White‘s appearance in theaters all the way back in 1937, Disney princesses have been ubiquitous, permeating our culture with female role models, discussions about gender norms, feminism, and songs that get stuck permanently in our heads.
Disney princesses have seen somewhat of a Renaissance birth with this generation’s manifestation: the “independent” princess who doesn’t always get her romantic happily ever after. Viewers saw that with Queen Elsa, who was not only a queen in her own right, but who also didn’t end up with a prince — or a king — at the end, but rather, went on a personal journey and found herself instead of love.
Disney is obviously listening to critics and adapting to the times. Another accusation leveled against the company is its perceived lack of diversity in its characters. So many Disney princesses are white, leading to much speculation why the company, which has international, global appeal, fails to reflect the diversity of its audiences.
A new film is a step in the right direction.
Disney isn’t changing its script any time soon: the new film will feature a new Disney princess, because they know how much we’re obsessed with them. (Has anyone ever taken the time to count how many fan re-drawings of the princesses there are available on the internet? There are probably hundreds.) But instead of some mythical kingdom set in a vague medieval Europe, Moana will feature a Polynesian princess.
At the D23 Expo in California earlier this year, Disney revealed some titillating tidbits about the company’s new film. Moana will feature a Polynesian princess named — you guessed it — Moana, who goes on an action-packed sailing trip across the Pacific Ocean to discover a mythical island. On the way, she meets demigod Maui — voiced by none other than Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson — and she’s accompanied by the usual couple of self-aware animals: this time a a pig named Pua and rainbow-coloured rooster named Hei-Hei. Sounds like the recipe for an instant Frozen-like hit.
Now if only we could get ‘Let It Go’ out of our heads.
Disney also released a couple beautiful stills from the movie, along with sketches and designs of the main characters. Already, people are excited about the art, noting that Moana has a “power pose” and that the new princess will join the ranks of Jasmine, Pocahontas, Tiana, and Mulan, making the total of diverse Disney princesses five.
Some say it’s too little, too late. But I say: better late than never. Disney exists to sell movies (along with a truckload of other merchandise), and it has clearly learned what sells. Adapting to the times can only benefit in the long run.