Yesterday’s Post had a very interesting article about the character Princess Tiana from the upcoming Disney film The Princess & The Frog. The movie is scheduled for nationwide release in December 2009.
Disney is already promoting the film with the unveiling of the Princess Tiana doll last month. Actress Anika Noni Rose, who appeared in Dreamgirls and currently stars in HBO’s The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency, is the voice of Princess Tiana.
A Fairy Tale Beginning
Snow White, She’s Not. Among Disney’s Royal Ladies, Tiana Is a Notable First.
By Neely Tucker
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, April 19, 2009
Long ago and far away, she was an unnamed little princess in a little story called the “The Frog Prince.” She and her amphibious friend lived in a very small, mostly forgotten corner of the fairy tale universe.
Many years passed.
And then one day, through the magical powers of Disney animation and commercial marketing, the forgotten little princess was transformed into Tiana, a beautiful black princess from New Orleans. She became the star of “The Princess and the Frog,” a movie set to premiere in November. Her doll and toy set were unveiled last month, and the Disney promotional machine is already humming, for Tiana is the first Disney princess in more than a decade, and the first ever to be black.
In the 72 years since Walt Disney’s animated version of Snow White captivated audiences as “the fairest of them all,” there have only been eight such Disney princesses. Through these movies and a line of toys, dresses and figurines, the Disney princesses have become global, doe-eyed icons of childhood. Sleeping Beauty awakened by a kiss, Cinderella’s clock striking midnight, Belle waltzing in the Beast’s castle, Ariel with Prince Eric in the moonlit lagoon — these have become heroines whom parents the world over feel safe to let their young girls idolize and mimic. And while Disney has brought us nonwhite princesses before (see “Mulan,” “Pocahontas”), Tiana is a first.
The implied message of Tiana, that black American girls can be as elegant as Snow White herself, is a milestone in the national imagery, according to a range of scholars and cultural historians.
Her appearance this holiday season, coming on the heels of Michelle Obama’s emergence as the nation’s first lady, the Obama girls in the White House and the first line of Barbie dolls modeled on black women (“So in Style” debuts this summer), will crown an extraordinary year of visibility for African American women.
The article also discusses the inspiration for the story:
On its most basic level, “The Princess and the Frog” is a vintage Disney princess fairy tale, in hand-drawn (2-D) animation, a Broadway-style musical. It draws inspiration from an 18th-century fairy tale from the British Isles, and “The Frog Princess,” a 2002 teen novel from Maryland writer E.D. Baker. Disney transferred the story to 1920s New Orleans and changed her name, race and almost everything else.
In the Disney version, Tiana is a young waitress and talented chef who dreams, like her father, of owning her own restaurant. She eventually kisses a frog and is transformed into one. She must journey into the dark bayou to get a magical cure from a good voodoo queen. She is aided by a goofy firefly and a trumpet-playing alligator. The frog turns out to be handsome Prince Naveen, from the far-off and fictional land of Maldonia.
Besides Anika, other voices in the movie include Oprah Winfrey, John Goodman, Terrence Howard, Keith David and Bruno Campos who is the voice of Prince Naveen. For all you Nip Tuck fans Bruno Campos was Dr. Quinton Costa, aka The Carver.
Murray says she was pleased the studio is portraying Tiana with skin of a “darker hue” and slightly full lips. Tarshia Stanley, a professor of English at Spelman College in Atlanta who often writes and teaches about portrayals of black women in film, says that the character’s hair — straight and pulled back in early images released by the studio — seems to be the appropriate, middle-of-the-road bet, too.
“They might as well make it straight so little girls can comb it when the doll comes out,” she notes, wryly. “We as African American women haven’t fully dealt with how sensitive the subject of our hair can be, so I certainly wouldn’t expect Disney to know what to do with [that issue].”
You can read the entire Washington Post article here.
I read this part and thought since black folks are some hard to please folks, somebody out there will complain that Princess Tiana should have her hair worn as a natural. I just know the hard to please black folks will bitch and moan about this. Some black folks are already fussing about the prince not being black. You know black love and all, despite the fact that in real life there are more black men who are dating/married to non black women than there are black women dating/married to non black men. So you know black folks will be scrutinizing this film like nobody else’s business.
Just read this article, Disney to feature its first black princess… but critics complain as she falls in love with a WHITE prince. See how white is capitalized cause the horror of it all 😉
Move over Snow White. Make room for Disney’s first black princess.
With America’s first African-American president in the White House, Disney is counting on an African-American princess to be a big hit in Hollywood.
But even though The Princess and the Frog isn’t released until later this year, it is already stirring up controversy.
For while Princess Tiana and many in the cartoon cast are black – the prince is not.
Which has led some critics to complain that Disney has ducked the opportunity for a fairytale ending for a black prince and princess.
You can read it all here at the Daily Mail Online.