In March of last year, I was so happy about the news that the newest Disney princess was going to be depicted as girl of African-American descent. It’s empowering for little girls to see movie characters–even in cartoon-form–that they can identify with.
Now comes word that Disney has had to scrap the original version of The Frog Princess because of problems with the storyline and key characters. According to reports, they had the Maddy character start out as a chambermaid working for a mean white woman, and ultimately getting rescued by a handsome white prince.
The revised movie is being kept under wraps for now, but rumor has it they’ll be changing the love interest to someone with a darker complexion, perhaps of Indian or Middle Eastern descent.
While it’s good to see that Disney is responding to the criticism of their indulging of stereotypes, I hope they also pay close attention to the heroine herself. One of the things I liked most about some of the newer Disney offerings wasn’t just the multi-cultural heroines they created, but the way those heroines were NOT portrayed as helpless damsels in distress.
For example, Mulan was an independent young girl who respected her culture and family traditions, yet stepped up and took charge when things got ugly. She saved the day with her cleverness, not to mention some impressive fighting skills. A nice departure from the Sleeping Beauty/Snow White heroines of yore, waiting helplessly to be saved with a kiss from their prince.
So far, Maddy’s gotten a new name (Tiana) and a new love interest. Here’s hoping they give her a decent storyline, too.