Friday, September 24, 2004

The Popularity of Spirituality? / Bad Disney

I enjoyed Donna Britt's column in the Washington Post this morning. The Post has little teaser ads throughout the paper for its various columnists with a picture and three random quotes. One of the quotes from Britt's ad is the question "are we all less spiritual these days," or something along those lines. This, of course, strikes close to my heart.

In today's column, Britt mentions Bishop T.D. Jakes. I was quite proud that I recognize that name -- I heard the last few minutes of his speech/sermon at The Black Family Reunion held a few weeks ago on the Mall in Washington, D.C. I was not familiar with him before that, other than knowing that he's an author. He was amazing -- very moving.

Speaking of The Black Family Reunion, I noticed that Disney had a big booth. It was only then that it occurred to me that I wasn't familiar with any black Disney characters. I know The Lion King was supposed to be an Afro-centric tale, both literally and figuratively (I read a Newsweek article about the subtext of the importance of fathers or some such). Anyway, it is interesting to note that the incredible advances they have taken with the hair colors of their princesses have not been matched with the race of their characters. Hey, I thought it was great when they introduced Belle, the brown-eyed brunette from Beauty and the Beast [yes, I know the raven-haired Snow White has been around for quite awhile]. Even Jasmin, who is supposed to be Persian or Arab, looks pretty anime. I guess there is also Mulan, but she's not in the trio of princesses that are hawked at my kids.

Anyway, I mentioned my query to a friend of mine, the lack of black Disney characters (and I may be missing some, I'm purposefully ignorant of most of Disney's offerings), and she noted that in Hercules they did have 3 black women singers -- ahhh, the great empire recognizes the contribution of the Supremes. God save us from Disney.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not the political correctness police, but Disney affirmatively decided to host a booth at The BLACK Family Reunion - thats the part that galls me. It was just too 'in your face' for me.


Anichka & Scottik said...

no black disney characters??? Seems to me that Disney was founded on black characters. Ever heard of MICKEY MOUSE??? and I don't remember Minnie needing a tan either... :) just kidding. Nice blog posts :)

Anonymous said...

It's odd that I find myself speaking up for Disney, but in all honesty I do not consider this a defense. Having grown up in Central FL and having worked for Disney's television production company, I have a long and sorted history with them. Nonetheless, I just wanted to point out that Touchstone (a division of Disney) and ABC (also a division of Disney these days) respectively produces and airs "My Wife and Kids" starring Damon Wayans--in its 5th season. It is currently the only sitcom on primetime starring a black family that airs on any of the 3 major networks (ABC, CBS, or NBC) I think it is also interesting to note--that according to the Neilsen's African American's watch more primetime TV than all other US homes across all age groups. Draw your own conclusions.--Julie

Marjorie said...

There you go, stealing my righteous indignation by putting forth some facts. Sigh. Well, at least my first commentor stokes the fires a bit by bringing up Mickey and Minnie -- I mean, really, why do they wear white gloves???
My DH also tried to dampen my fit by pointing out that Disney was probably courted to be a vendor at the BFR.
I prefer to take the Family Guy approach to Disney -- I've seen several episodes where they take shots at Eisner. Though I guess they don't have him much longer.

Anonymous said...

I am a cast member at WDW and although I'm satisfied with my working enviorment, I must say it's depressing to see little African American children look through an entire store and ask why not one, uno, a single, minimal object resembles anything of their culture(it happens and they do ask). It's wonderful that disney is becoming more diverse Mulan, Jasmine, Esmeralda, but if statistics show that African Americans watch the most television, wouldn't it be nice for Disney to provide us with more than one cartoon, and two shows. When I started working at Disney I wanted to work in entertainment, there were no face characters I resembeled, why.., no black characters(and no Pocohantas doesn't count).
Food for thought.
- Anonymous

Marjorie said...

Hi anonymous, thanks for your comment. I recall when the Lion King came out, they were touting that it was Afro-centric. But thats pretty insulting when they finally center a story on Africa and it features only animals.

Anonymous said...

I am always surprised when we(blacks)discuss topics of injustice
all we have done is sit on our duffs and complain.Afro Americans have changed fashion,language,rhythm,kids of all races worship us and we do not use our popular status to demand change. We used to in the 70's we should boycott corp that are unfair and bias my child should see positive images that look like her,for example black barbie ,blk princess,blk positive cartoons and blk stars playing characters other than donkeys(Eddie Murphy in Shrek)or Nick Cannon playing an idiot cop in Monster House.COME ON PEOPLE USE THIS STARDOM BEFORE WE FADE AND HAVE NOTHING TO SHOW FOR IT BUT HIP-HOP.

Marjorie said...

Hi Anonymous, thank you for your comment. If you blog, I'd love a link so that I can read it.

Anonymous said...

I agree that there should be black Disney characters for the black children. Putting that issue aside, what "galls" me is that there is even a "Black Family Reunion" - a United Negro College Fund - etc.

I can't help but wonder what would happen if there was a "White Family Reunion" or a United white College Fund? You can't have it both ways. Either we're racist or we're not. I've even heard some say that in the future, the white race will be the minority and have less rights than all of the other races.

Why can't we be one race, the human race where everyone's rights are equal?