Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Misinformation on Disney's "Princess and the Frog"

People often play quite "loose" with facts and fiction. Here in the US, I see that with the Health Care debacle, where misinformation and outright lies get passed on as "facts". Well, I sat through one yesterday and couldn't believe my ears.

I was at the DMV to change the address on my driver's license. While waiting for my number to be called, I heard this woman behind me, who was African-American, chatting with her friends (who was also African-American). I didn't pay much attention to what she was saying (she was doing most of the talking), even though I could hear every word. But I sat up and took notice when she said that Disney is racist. The reason for that? She was complaining about the upcoming "Princess and the Frog".

She claims that no other princesses turned into frogs, and that in the "original book", the princess didn't turn into a frog. She said that she'll never see a Disney movie again.

There are two problems with this:

1. The movie is loosely based on E.D. Baker's "The Frog Princess", which originally was the name of the movie until a complaint from the African-American community. In that book, the princess DID turn into a frog! Read a review of it. So it wasn't some racist Disney that went out of his/her way to do this. It was part of the story, and frankly, I thought it was a very cute and clever twist from the traditional fairy tale.

2. Why are we insulted with frogs? Would it have been OK if she turned into a horse instead? Frogs are an essential creature in our environment. In fact, the absence of frogs in many parts of the country is a worrisome trend. Frogs are as important and as noble a creature as any. Turning into a frog is not an insult, thankyouverymuch! I'm sure those frogs don't think that highly of humans either, especially those who abuse their own intelligence and spread such misinformation.

I was half tempted to actually told this woman about the errors in her judgment, but I thought better of it. The last thing I want to have is an argument at, of all places, the DMV. So I let it go (she made other silly remarks about human evolution, but I'm not going into that).

I also think that this is probably not isolated, and that such perpetuation of lies and misinformation probably is what fueled many of disenchantment with the movie, even before people see it.


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