Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The 47% Disney-fied….

Sofia the First with animal "friends"

Ok, it's Sunday morning. My daughter is ill. We got up at 5:45am, that's right…AM. She's not going back to sleep so it's Disney time. Don't judge me, the TV is our friend when kids are sick. Since I can't go back to sleep, I decide to clean the extremely messy kitchen that I left after making catfish fingers for the first time. For some reason, Little J didn't want to see her girl Doc McStuffins(a black female character that of course I root hard for her to watch for obvious reasons). Since Disney wasn't working we watched how Blue, the dog from "Blue's Clues" came to be, and then that was over so we moved back to Disney.  The made for TV movie "Sofia the First" was on. So we watched. I like princesses so I was eager to see it. It was…. confusing.

The first thing was the beginning: The King, who's some sort of British-type European, which is expected, is getting new shoes and falls in love with the lovely shoemaker and marries her. 
They create a blended family: he has two kids, a boy and a girl(no mention is made of who their mom is but its the standard M.O. for fairy tale dads to just magically have children, usually a girl, with no mom in sight) and the shoemaker has a girl named Sofia, hence the name of the series. I was hearing the Brady Bunch theme in the background of my head…Here's a story, of a lovely lady… 

Then the kids all fly off to princess school, which isn't princess school, because there are boys there, but it's still called princess school. Sigh... Just let it go…. But, more importantly, Disney tried to be diverse and having some cultures at least represented in a token fashion: an Indian rajah, a Japanese girl, a light skinned African-type prince, and the rest were European. The prerequisite for being included were really nice costumes a la "The King and I" or "My Fair Lady". But, cognitive dissonance set in as I just thought: ok, so they're going to princess school - with boys - and they are all different cultures, but they are learning European etiquette and dancing. Is there some sort of exchange program where they learn the ways of the other cultures too? So the other cultures have to come to the European school to learn how to be royal?! Turn your brain off Diva, it's a kids show. Just enjoy it.

But here is the coup de grace: The Sofia character can speak to the animals, courtesy of a magic amulet her new "dad" gave her. When the birds, squirrels and "streetwise" bunny come in to Sofia's room...

break - the bunny is voiced by Wayne Brady. And not Wayne Brady from the improv comedy show, but the Wayne Brady from the Chappelle Show. You know the episode where Dave and Wayne are in the SUV and Wayne asking a Ho: "Is Wayne Brady gonna have to choke a bitch?" That's the bunny in this cartoon. Back to our regularly scheduled blog…. 

…they tell her that they are not doing all her work for free. Hell naw! You need to pay us: with food!! At this point the cognitive dissonance just made my head explode. They started singing about all this work they did for these princesses all these years. "Pay a n---a, bitch!"  in disney speak, while they dance around eventually ending up with Sofia going to the kitchen to get them a salad.  The "47%" of animals need to be paid fairly for their efforts.  Respect.  

So this show wants my child to believe in mythical princesses that are risen up from essential poverty by her mom marrying rich, they get a multi-cultural "education" which really only teaches one culture knows how to be "royal" and then the black bunny's friendship is conditionally based off of him and the rest of his crew needing to be fed?!  

Oh, and by the way, Sofia is Hispanic or Latina with blue eyes, red hair and porcelain skin. I was wondering why her mom was dark skinned. I just thought she was Italian-like. Now I know that Hispanics come in different shades and colors, just like black people. But the Sofia character was voiced by what was obviously a white actress! (at the end they had this voice over actress live in a princess decorated room, singing one of the songs. She looked white to me)  If I hadn't read that the character was Hispanic, I never even would have known. Could she have a slight accent or something to indicate that she was Hispanic?! I'm not talking a Charo accent, but a Dora accent. The voice of that child sounds Hispanic(I believe she's voiced by a Cuban girl). And don't tell me people can't tell. Doc McStuffins speaks perfectly and you know she's black. You can hear the characters on Ni-Hao-Kai-Lan are of East Asian descent. If Sophia's supposed to be Hispanic, give some indication that she is or else just call her white and be done with it. It was just strange trying to figure out why her dark skinned mom had a white child in a mythical kingdom where everyone else is pretty rigidly defined by their ethnicity.

This was Disney trying to twist the the princess idea into something modern, non-classist/racist and socially relevant to today's culture. 

Well, to this adult, it was so weird, condescending and strange I had problems not yelling at the tv. 

To the child -- it was a cute, sweet tale of trying to fit into a new place with new people and a new family

To the adult - the 47% have spoken, they will be paid well for their time and efforts you rich people! If I have to be at your beck and call, I need to be paid greenbacks, as in lettuce! And does the HIspanic mom have to be a shoemaker who is kneeling at the king's feet putting on his shoes?!  Since it's pure fantasy, why couldn't she be a doctor or a fashion designer or…. well not a frickin shoemaker?! 

To the child -- Wow, that bunny's funny. Of course Sofia should give him a snack. Isn't the Queen's hair pretty? I want to talk to animals, too.

Adult - This is insane!

Child - Goodie!!! Cinderella just showed up!

WIll I let my child watch this post modern drivel? Most likely…. sigh.... I just want to see the dresses and which princesses come out of the amulet next…just don't have Tiana talk about hard work while she's cooking something in the kitchen….Please?!

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