Sunday, January 11, 2015

Get out of the Woods

After recently discussing TV tokenism, (which is when cable and network channels have a "token" minority character in their shows so they have the ability to claim their shows are diverse), in my American Studies class. I started to pay more attention to the shows, and movies I was watching, looking for the types of thing we talked about in class. Such as how long the minority character is on the screen for, how well are they dressed, what type of role are they playing. I noticed that the new movie/musical to hit theaters, Into the Woods, had zero African American actors, (or other minority groups), in the entire movie. Correction; there was one black couple that was on screen for approximately 2 seconds. As you can see below, here is a picture of all the white cast members.

For the past several hundred years, we've been told fairy tales, as children, about princes and princesses, mystical creatures, and fables that usually have an important moral of the story. Most of these stories were created from 17th to 19th century, when black people were initially brought to America from Africa, mainly used for slave labor as America was forming as a nation. Since then, it's always been inferred that white people will usually play the princes and princesses, and end up happily ever after. As our society continues to modernize its beliefs, I feel like we've come far enough to ditch the old fashioned values that Hansel and Gretel have to be white. So why can't Repunzel's prince be black? Why shouldn't an African American actor play the Baker in Into the Woods?

Finally, for the first time (6 years ago), Disney created a movie with a black princess called The Princess and the Frog. It was a huge game changer that children would be introduced to a beautiful black princess, who was also a great role model. For once a Disney princess wasn't looking for a prince to save her, he just happened to be an outcome for her following her dreams during a whimsical adventure to reverse a spell cast on her, Tiana, and the prince. Another great example is the new rendition of Annie, where the main characters are all African American.

Should we start telling children new stories of characters in fables described as African Americans, or  would that be too much of a jump? Why does it have to be that way, when we've made so much  progress over the past 50 years, especially in entertainment. Its hard to try and re-write history, so why not create new stories to tell our future children?

1 comment:

  1. I really like your example of Princess and the Frog. We're definitely starting to make progress with an African-American woman as a protagonist in a children's movie. This will help kids learn from an early age that they should be accepting of all races.