Disney crowns its first African American princess
The impending release of Disney’s animated fairytale feature The Princess and the Frog is more significant than your average Big Mouse family flick for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it marks the studio’s return to traditional hand drawn animation – the first of its kind since 2004’s Home on the Range. Secondly (and more significantly) the film’s titular protagonist, Tiana, is the first African American heroine in the company’s 71 year history of feature film animation. Her role has been linked in some circles to the Presidency of Barrack Obama, though Disney rightfully quashed this correlation by pointing out that the project’s development predates Obama’s inauguration.
Since the whiter-than-white Snow White bit the bedeviled apple in 1937 Disney maintained a lineup of solely Caucasian princesses right up until the 90’s, when the studio began to significantly broaden its representations of multicultural people. 1992’s Aladdin marked its first non-white animated heroine – Princess “a whole new world” Jasmine, who was Middle Eastern. Three years later Pocahontus (an American Indian) appeared in 1995 and in 1998 came Mulan (the first Chinese Disney heroine). (more…)