Moana: Polynesian Representation?

As we have been in a few weeks since Moana has been released into theaters, I was given the opportunity to see it. Now, as I saw the movie, I will be honest, it took me a while to get into the spirit of the movie and to appreciate it.

Part of the reason is I am all about character and what ‘drives’ them in situations. Moana’s “call to the sea” as she often calls it does not seem like a strong enough reason for her to just so happen to save her village. Her desire to leave the island is sound, seeing as he father restricts her (remember the Little Mermaid?), but the fact that the tribe were ‘voyagers’ doesn’t seem to connect the dots to me. I don’t see how that makes her want to go out when no one else on the island seems to want to go either.

The songs were memorable, and this story reminds me of a Greek myth in the form of an adventure in seeking the different realms to find the heart of Tafiti and to get to the island to face the lava monster.

I enjoyed the music more than anything, but the thing that I have been reading recently is the fact that once again, many people have seen this movie as not an accurate representation of the Polynesian culture. The Disney Company spent much time researching this culture and trying to find the best way to make this movie possible.

From my research, it seems that the only thing that people have a problem with is Maui himself. Now, to be fair, I can see why people would be upset over this, but in the end, we have all become so sensitive to this fact. He is one character (granted a lead) but Moana carries this movie. Her cultural significance has proven that she is strong enough to lead the culture and how she wants to represent her people.

I will also admit that the costume put out was called to be insensitive as well. The fact that he is a man who is shirtless and only wears something below the waist would indeed be considered close to ‘black face’ as they have called it. I just don’t see how this movie would be seen completely a disaster in terms of the culture.

This can go back to the cultures that others have displayed in Disney. I will admit that they do show the negative parts of the culture, but with Disney being in an age of political correctness and people are constantly complaining (I am Native American and found no real problems with Pocahontas) when people are making an honest effort, should we condemn them for trying to pay respect to an under appreciated culture?

Perhaps we will see more representation of these beautiful people in media now that this movie has been released. We can hope, but let’s look on the positive that Moana could do for the community rather than saying the movie was a complete total shame.


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