Last night when I went to see Up (review coming shortly) I saw the trailer for The Princess and the Frog.
Just by judging the trailer, The Princess and the Frog looks like an amazing throwback to earlier hand-drawn Disney movies. What is more interesting to me however is the hype surrounding the film months before its December release. Princess Tiana (voiced by Anika Noni Rose) is the first black Disney princess. Some see her as a character young girls can embrace, while others do not.
Disney asserts that Prince Naveen, who hails from the fictional land of Maldonia and is voiced by a Brazilian actor, is not white. But critics see him as non-black. As Angela Bronner Helm, a blogger, writes: “Disney obviously doesn’t think a black man is worthy of the title of prince,” “His hair and features are decidedly non-black. This has left many in the community shaking their head in befuddlement and even rage.”
The debate surround Princess Tiana and Prince Naveen brings up an important question: Does The Princess and the Frog eliminate or promote racial stereotypes?
The New York Times ran an excellent article on Saturday that addresses this question and looks at the representation of race in past Disney films.