The Disney cartoon the Princess & The Frog earned $25 million at the box office today. According to media reports, the movie gross of $25 million was at the low end of Disney’s expectations for the film. The film budget for The Princess & the Frog was $105 million.
The Princess & The Frog is the first Disney movie to have a black female character in the lead role of a Disney cartoon. However, some critics are not impressed that Princess Tiana’s love interest Prince Naveen is not African-American.
The critics say the reason Disney chose a South Asian prince was to be palatable to white heterosexual audiences. Disney claims this film is about racial progress yet it is clear this movie was not meant for just an African American audience but a mainstream audience.
Prince Naveen could be South Asian, Latino, or Middle Eastern. Naveen is an Indian name, but in the film Naveen has a Spanish accent. Some critics question whether it is right to have a male lead that is not African American? I think the reason Disney chose to make Prince Naveen’s race ambigious is because they want to reach a wider audience. I guess romantic relationship between two black characters would be branded a black film. Disney only cares about profit not racial progress.
Another complaint, I read online are about the historical inaccuracies in the film. For instance, the movie is set in the 1920s in New Orleans. The truth is a black woman in the 1920s would have been a maid, factory worker, or a domestic not a Princess. Why was the movie set in the 1920s anyway? Why wasn’t the movie sent in the present?
The Princess & the Frog does not appear to be a feminist movie this movie panders to heterosexist ideologies about gender roles. For instance, feminist critic Janice Radway wrote “Reading The Romance” in 1984. “Reading The Romance” was groundbreaking because Radway conducted ethnographic studies to understand why women obtain pleasure from romance. Radway’s viewpoint is some heterosexual women still believe in fairy tale fantasies about romance.
Radway believes the reason romance is so popular with women is because some heterosexual women want to live vicariously through the heroine. Princess Tiana is dependant on Prince Naveen isn’t this against feminist politics and ideologies? Do heterosexual women really need men anymore anyway? Aren’t those “fairytale ideas” misogynist?
Princess Tiana also has a perfect figure just like all the female cartoon characters in Disney cartoons. Is this right? Will this film damage the self esteem of young black girls?
The few African-American women that were able to move through race and cultural barriers during the 1920s did so due to determination and hard work. For instance, the jazz singers Ma Rainey, Besse Smith, and Gladys Bentley were able to break down barriers for black women in the 1920s due to their musical talents. Zora Neale Hurston the African-American writer became successful during the Harlem Renaissance. Josephine Baker was a superstar in France in the 1920s after her success in the New York City broadway play “Shuffle Along.”
Of course, I am cognizant of the fact The Princess & The Frog is a cartoon. However, shouldn’t Disney have made the cartoon a bit more accurate? Shouldn’t children learn about racial and social injustice?
In Princess & the Frog Princess, Tiana wants to become a restaurant owner. The truth is in the 1920s in America due to racism and sexism it would have been extremely difficult for a black woman to own a business. It is true in the early 20th century Madam C.J. Walker became the first African American female millionaire.
I want to see the movie despite the complaints I have read on the internet. I think it is important for young black girls to see characters in cartoons that are also black. It is also nice that Princess Tiana is the lead and not a supporting character.
Last night, I went to the Christmas dinner party at Swiss Chalet at 1590 Yonge Street which is close to St. Clair subway station. I saw Eileen, Patricia, Ron, Valerie it was really good. I bought the festive dinner meal it consists of french fries, a bun, chicken. The festive deal is only $10.99! The great part of the meal was some guy I don’t know he works at Swiss Chalet he was so nice he gave us a 20% discount! I also got a box of chocolate. Eileen, Patricia, and I talked for two hours.
After the meal, we walked from St. Clair Subway station all the way down to the Bay & Indigo Chapters bookstore. I went to the poetry section and I was shocked there is one copy of my book “You Don’t Know Me” on the shelf! I showed Patricia and Eileen “You Don’t Know Me” and they said “wow that’s really nice!” We were going to have a coffee at Starbucks but the place was packed. Close to 10:00 we left the Bay & Indigo bookstore and went home.