Is The New Disney Character In Yet To Be Released Movie Moana Based On A Stereotype?


Is The New Disney Character In Yet To Be Released Movie Moana Based On A Stereotype?

Is The New Disney Character In Yet To Be Released Movie Moana Based On A Stereotype?

It seems like everyone is waiting for the new Disney princess, which will feature the first Polynesian princess ever who will be known as Moana. The upcoming movie has gained popularity but not for the right reasons. A lot of people have pointed out that they are not happy with the way the characters are being portrayed in the movie.

Critics have raised concerns about the sidekick in the movie, who is a Demigod and goes by the name of Maui. Disney has designed the character with a large body, which according to the critics is reinforcing a negative stereotype about Polynesian men. Maui was introduced to the world in a recent trailer and is a famous Demigod of the Pacific Islands. In the movie the character is being voiced by Dwayne Johnson who is famously known as ‘The Rock’. He is seen along with Moana and is said to have mystical power and strength that adds a new dimension to his character.

Despite the crowds being eager to meet their new Disney princes, one can’t help but wonder about the critics claim of portraying a negative body stereotype when it comes to Polynesian men. According to Ulysses Tonga’onevai, who is a professor of American Ethnic Studies at the University of Utah he saw the caricature that represents Maui but it did not fit. He added that as a Tongan he heard a lot about the local hero, Maui. From what Tonga’onevai heard the character was a physical specimen but was known for his intellect. He added that the portrayal of the character in the movie is wrong because several decades ago, the Polynesian population was not overweight. Maui’s caricature is a misrepresentation and is based on what he would look after he has been introduced to the Western culture. He further added that Polynesian men who existed hundreds of years ago ate different foods than what is available today and that is what shaped their bodies.

Disney’s efforts of introducing a Polynesian princess were highly appreciated by fans all over the world, who think that it will add more diversity to the Disney Princess Clan. However, some of the Polynesians worry that a misrepresentation of their culture and ancestors will send the wrong message to their children, who will internalize the stereotype and will interpret what they see.

According to Tony Vainuku, a Polynesian filmmaker, Disney is just trying to appeal to their audience that is present at every corner of the world. He added that the trailer looks silly, which Polynesians like himself find silly and intimidating, but the main focus should be on Maui’s personality that is friendly and warm, which is something that Vainuku personally loves. He says that Disney took a  great initiative by introducing a Polynesian princess and that the fact The Rock, who is a Samoan is voicing one of the main characters is a huge thing for the general Polynesian community.


“I’m looking forward to the time when we all look like Polynesians.” ~ Henry Louis Gates


A Selection of Polynesian Quotes

“As a Polynesian, our gods are tied to water, so this means something special” ~ Jason Momoa


“I’m looking forward to the time when we all look like Polynesians.” ~ Henry Louis Gates


“Civilization does not engross all the virtues of humanity: she has not even her full share of them. They flourish in greater abundance and attain greater strength among many barbarous people. The hospitality of the wild Arab, the courage of the North American Indian, and the faithful friendships of some of the Polynesian nations, far surpass any thing of a similar kind among the polished communities of Europe.” ~ Herman Melville


“Pretty Polynesian baby over the sea, I remember the night, when we walked in the sands of Waikiki and I held you oh so tight.” ~ Ricky Nelson


“A gentleman of Typee can bring up a numerous family of children and give them all a highly respectable cannibal education, with infinitely less toil and anxiety than he expends in the simple process of striking a light; whilst a poor European artisan, who through the instrumentality of a lucifer performs the same operation in one second, is put to his wits’ end to provide for his starving offspring that food which the children of a Polynesian father, without troubling their parent, pluck from the branches of every tree around them.” ~ Herman Melville


“The Hawaiian Islands were discovered by hardy Polynesian sailors, who crossed thousands of miles of open ocean in primitive canoes, braving violent storm-tossed seas for months at a time. My family and I arrived by modern commercial aviation, which was infinitely worse.” ~ Dave Barry


“To be an American and unable to play baseball is comparable to being a Polynesian and unable to swim.”~ John Cheever


“The Polynesians used to have a system where they proclaimed a fishing area as ‘taboo.’ If any fisherman was caught fishing in a taboo area, they would be killed. The Polynesians understood that the fish had to be given a chance to recover.” ~ Paul Watson


Sleepy pulled the car to a stop in front of this paved entranceway, which was flanked on either side by these enormous palm trees, kind of like the Polynesian Resort at Disney World. In fact, the whole place had kind of a Disney feel to it. You know, really big, and kind of modern and fake.” ~ Meg Cabot

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