I’ve seen the previews of Disney’s new animated comedy, “The Princess and the Frog” a few times now. Most recently, my daughter saw it and exclaimed out loud in the movie theater how excited she was that the movie is set in Louisiana.
I don’t really care what kind of controversy other bloggers will claim against Disney’s new movie. All I know is, I am stoked that Disney is releasing a hand-drawn animated feature set in my state that highlights the culture the New Orleans area and Louisiana has to offer. A new generation will be able to discover the personality of a place I call home.
A few weeks ago, I asked readers to leave comments stating some memory or love they have about Louisiana. I was astounded by the response (I read each comment) and it just reinforced why I still live here. Louisiana is like a strong woman who has to face adversity time and again, but while she gets knocked over sometimes, she always picks herself up and dusts herself off, and then gets back to the business of living.
I realize that there will be a large focus on race when this movie is released. I think the entire product is positive, with Princess Tiana being a role model for young girls of every race, but there are always people who are never happy. I spoke to some coworkers of color to get their take on the controversy going around the blogosphere regarding Princess Tiana’s career, Prince Naveen, and Voodoo. I won’t get into a discussion here regarding Princess Tiana, but I do want to take note of the Prince Naveen Controversy and the issue of voodoo in the movie.
The White Prince (as other bloggers have dubbed him): First, I’d love to know if somewhere Disney has stated that Prince Naveen is Caucasian. We all looked at the pictures of Prince Naveen. He looked Creole to us. We’d like to think part of Disney’s magic is by leaving the choice of Prince Naveen’s race up to the individual viewer’s imagination. If you are unsure of what Creole is, check out Creole New Orleans Walking Tours.
Voodoo: People, please don’t take issue with the fact that there is an evil Voodoo Doctor in this movie. You know there has to be good vs. evil and many, many people just think that Voodoo is evil. It is part of the culture down here and it is what it is. For those that are really interested in the history of Voodoo (the good parts too), visit the New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum on Dumaine Street in the French Quarter. There are two voodoo characters, a good one, and a bad one. Can you people please wait until you see the movie before you start bashing it?
I know that many people will focus on the fact that Princess Tiana is the first African American Disney Princess. I think it is fantastic. But, the thing that thrills me the most is the hope that this feature, the setting, and the characters will bring renewed interest in tourism to Louisiana again. New Orleans and the state of Louisiana are special places that hopefully a new generation will enjoy. I’m so, so excited to see St. Louis Cathedral in cartoon form. I love that Oprah Winfrey, John Goodman, and Terrance Howard are some of the character voices. My only beef with the movie? The music. While I love ya, Randy Newman, it sure would’ve been cool to have Harry Connick, Jr., Wynton Marsalis, or Chris King have a part in the composition.
I’ll give all you parents and grandparents a hint. Want to really make the Christmas season special for that little boy or girl in your life? Go ahead right now and book your visit to New Orleans, LA or Disney’s Port Orleans Resort at Walt Disney World. Have some beignets like Princess Tiana, take a riverboat ride, and a swamp tour. Wear Mardi Gras beads even though it isn’t carnival season. Introduce your little ones to the wonders of Louisiana’s Wetlands.
Disney’s Princess and the Frog is due for release December 21, 2009. Make a wish on the official movie site. Walt Disney World Resorts is currently running a free dining offer at Disney.com. To plan a trip to New Orleans or Louisiana, visit the Official Louisiana Tourism Site. For an even more exciting introduction into Louisiana’s Wetlands, plan a day trip with author and boat captain, Bayou Woman.