Thursday, June 30, 2016

Princess and the Frog

I recently saw Disney's "The Princess and the Frog" with my kids.  They were smitten, dancing around to the jazz numbers.  I think they also liked the mainly black characters.  They've got this idea that they're black (fancy that, with a dad who only talks about black issues all the time), so I think it is a refreshing change for them to see characters "like them".  I like the film too, for all the same reasons that critics loved it.  It's a return to normal, hand-drawn animation, straightforward plotting, and fewer coy double-entendres and pop-culture references.  And it's a nice ode to the wonderful parts of New Orleans culture. 

I did though find myself wondering where Jim Crow was in all of this, given that the film is set in the 1920s.  The characters are mainly black, but there are still lots of interracial and inter-class friendships, races mixed up riding the streetcar in the same section, and men and women of all colors aspiring to romance with brown and black characters.  No separate drinking fountains or eating facilities, no mean-spirited harassment of blacks on the street.  I don't blame Disney too much for this--depicting the suffocating, grinding, relentless oppression of the Jim Crow South wouldn't make for a very fun, whimsical film.  And of all the places in the Jim Crow South, I imagine that jazz-age New Orleans was the most laid-back and racially mixed and similar to our 21st-century laissez-faire racial attitude.  But I did wonder at it.  I don't have the same harsh words as this review by the Village Voice, but I can't fault the author for anything he's said.  Here's another critical, but more forgiving, review of the film.

All that aside, I'd highly recommend the movie for anyone with kids.

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