Before we start, this is not a hot take on how great Disney is lately at bringing in WoC princesses. They have problems and I’m definitely not the best person to discuss the many issues that come up with simplifying history or making money on someone else’s culture without ever facing the risks of belonging to that culture. Other people more qualified have written much better things on that subject and one day I may sit down and gather up links and make a reading list but that day is not today.
Today I just want to talk about effort. I saw Moana the other day, as you may have guessed, and although it’s been critiqued for cooking down the many different cultures of Pacific Islanders into one thing I kind of want to point out how happy I was to see the casting. It may not be enough but it’s something, a step in the right direction at least and for me it’s just… I don’t get why you wouldn’t cast someone with a similar cultural background if that’s what the script calls for. It felt good to see Moana voiced by Auli’i Cravalho, it made me happy to see the list of experts consulted for the movie and as much as I adore Lin-Manuel Miranda, I want people like Opetaia Foa’i to be involved in stuff like this because why the heck wouldn’t they be?
It would be better if people got to write their own stories, of course. It lacks the centuries of oppression to be a proper comparison but most stories about Norse mythology or Swedish culture are goddamn unwatchable to me because they so rarely cast someone who speaks Swedish or can pronounce the names or understand that Thor was a drag queen and that’s nothing in comparison to white dudes stripping your culture of everything they can make a profit of. It’s tiresome and infuriating and it doesn’t even affect me personally to any greater degree so I can’t even imagine what it’s like for those that are affected, but just because things could be better that doesn’t mean we should turn out back on the baby steps made to make things better.
More representation, please. More space for marginalised voices to tell their own stories.