Disney just can’t catch a break, can it?
Yes, I said that with the full amount of irony due an expression of pity for a company that makes billions of dollars a year. But it’s pity nonetheless.
Because word has it The Princess and the Frog – which finally gave families of color a hero to root for, which finally gave feminists a princess with some gumption to crow over, is now driving away another core American audience.
The evangelicals don’t like Princess Tiana.
Or, at least the folks at places like ChristianAnswers.net – where the movie spotlight on The Princess and the Frog gives it a moral rating of “offensive” because the movie touches on the occult, with references to “friends on the other side” and voodoo dolls – are warning parents away from Disney’s latest princess.
Says Christian Answers reviewer Thaisha Geiger, “Practicing any sort of occultic magic is directly against God and is labeled as an abomination throughout Scripture. This movie displays that voodoo magicians hold all the power of both good and evil.”
At Hollywood Jesus, the reviewers take issue with the indirect references to hell in a children’s movie: “This is serious stuff, and the light-handed manner that it was often handled with made me a bit uncomfortable. One should never lightly toy with the spiritual world, especially the world of demons and their dark powers. Having a show-stopping Broadway-like song about dalliances with dark forces in an animated movie may make it seem like doing such things is really no big deal; not something I want my kids to pick-up on.”
A spoiler warning here – those “friends on the other side” are depicted as evil in the movie, and voodoo man Dr. Facilier is likewise a bad man who meets his end in a bad, bad way. The closest endorsement Disney makes on the occult is the presence of Mama Odie, a sort of voodoo witch who acts for good, helping Princess Tiana and Prince Naveen on their path to becoming human again.
They’re right in saying the occult is present. Geiger’s perhaps even right in her call for the movie to be rated PG rather than G (my daughter screamed out loud at one point in the middle of the theater, although she suffered no bad dreams and wanted to go back and see it again).
But the presence of a differing world view – in this case the brush with the occult is both geographically and historically accurate. To argue that it’s in poor taste to portray people of color as backward and superstitious is one thing (and that is a valid concern). But to argue that presenting an alternate world view is a reason to ignore a movie is further evidence of a group unwilling to face that they’re only a portion of the world – not the world at large.
Want to convince kids yours is the way, the truth and all that jazz? Face up to challenges – don’t hide from them.
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