Category: Entertainment Published on Friday, 11 December 2009 22:41
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Naturally, Charlotte gallantly arrives in one of her many elaborately bejeweled, pink ball gowns while Tiana remains in her servile role, serving her infamous sugared sweet cakes, dressed as a peasant.
When both girls wish upon the North Star, the same star that led slaves to freedom, Charlotte’s knight in shining armor appears in the form of Prince Naveen while Tiana’s prince, the real Prince, appears in the form of a frog.
I guess fairy tales don’t always come true.
While Charlotte is happily whisked off, Tiana reluctantly kisses the frog, which turns her into one herself and she remains that way for most of the movie.
Realizing that Dr. Facilier, better known as Shadow Man, is responsible for their dilemma, they journey through swamplands of New Orleans to find someone to reverse the curse.
Along the way, they make acquaintance with other animals who appear to be exaggerated black caricatures of real and common folk. For instance, Louis Armstrong is clearly personified as Louie, the heavyset, high-strung, trumpet playing alligator who desperately wants to be accepted and human. As long as he is not 3/5s black, he might have a chance. And then there is Raymond who is the patriarchal leader of the Cajun fireflies. Louie refers to Raymond and two of the other fireflies as RayRay, Pookie and Pee-Wee, nicknames that personify “ghetto, thieving and lazy” thugs in black, urban communities.
At least no one was named Junebug.
More deliberate racism rears its ugly head at the sudden appearance of three redneck slave catchers. One of them is named Two Fingers, perhaps eluding to the practice of slave catchers amputating slaves' limbs as punishment for running away after they’ve been caught. Nevertheless, they were outsmarted by the frogs behind their racy statement, “We’re gonna catch us some frogs tonight!”
Drop the word “frog” and add “coon.” Sound alarmingly familiar?
However, the highest race card is played when the writers malevolently attached a negative connotation to African and African-American people, African masks which are generally used to ward off evil and bring good luck, and the “ancestors” who are honored by their descendants, as most cultures do.
Shadow Man, a facilitator of Voodun magic, conjured up the “dead,” who arise from their graves as evil spirits but who are in fact the ancestors, to help administer and prolong the spell that allowed Lawrence to disguise himself as the prince. Another racist moment in the movie was when the Caucasian faces atop of the tombstones turned into "evil" African masks which was utterly offensive and ignorant.
Disney certainly has not changed its views in all its 86 years.
To shine some clarity, historically, Voodun allowed the slaves to practice their polytheistic religion by associating their deities with the Catholic saints so the Caucasian slave masters who forced their religion upon them wouldn’t punish them.
Later, Tiana and the “What’s Happenin’” crew finally run into Mama Odie, a 197-year old blind Voodun priestess, the black version of a fairy godmother, voiced by Jenifer Lewis (“Madea’s Family Reunion”) who helps break the curse. A discerning question arose when Mama Odie grotesquely tongue-kissed her snake, JuJu, whose names means “spirit”? Was she trying to catch the “spirit”?
Candidly speaking, this film has its warming moments, but thoroughly ridicules historical reasoning and crudely attaches a negative connotation to Africa and African-American culture. I would really like to know who Ron Clements, John Musker and Rob Edwards, the writers of this salvageable monstrosity, thought they were fooling?
And Oprah, I’m disappointed that you gave away your time and energy to this movie.
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