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Film Critique Walt Disney’s the Princess and the Frog

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Film Critique
Walt Disney’s
The Princess and the frog

I am going to write about three issues that I noticed in the film “The Princess and the Frog” by Disney. The three topics I am going to talk about are classism, discrimination, and stereotypes in that respected order. This film brought up several issues, but those are the three I chose to focus on because these three were more predominate throughout the film. Set in New Orleans at the beginning of the 20th century, The Princess and the Frog concerns a poor African-American girl named Tiana who has a knack for cooking, and dreams of opening her own restaurant. Her best friend since childhood is a privileged white girl whose wealthy father employs Tiana's mother as a dressmaker. When the friend's family hosts a party for Prince Naveen of Maldonia, Dr. Facilier,a.k.a the Shadow Man, an expert in black magic, turns the visiting royal into a frog. The now amphibious Naveen convinces Tiana that a kiss will reverse the spell, and if she obliges him he'll provide the money she needs to open her dream restaurant. However, their smooch not only fails to turn him back into a human, but transforms Tiana into a frog as well. The duo then sets out to find a voodoo priestess who can set everything right.“www.fandango.com “ Let’s start with classism, which a biased or discriminatory attitude based on distinctions is made between social or economic classes or the viewing of society as being composed of distinct classes. This movie is set during the Jim Crow era of the 1920’s in New Orleans Louisiana. Classism is very evident throughout this particular movie. At the beginning of the movie, the scene shows a young Tiana and a young Charlotte playing with Charlotte’s cat in the huge bedroom of Charlotte’s mansion. As the young girls are playing, Tiana’s mother is acting as a seamstress for Big Daddy, who is Charlotte’s father. Big Daddy is portrayed of one of the wealthiest people in the town of New Orleans. Tiana’s mother is making custom made dresses for Charlotte and others under Big Daddy’s request. Tiana and her mother leave Big Daddy’s mansion and hop on a trolley. As they are riding the trolley from Big Daddy’s mansion it shows all these other mansions in Big Daddy’s mansion, and as they cross the tracks to go to Tiana’s house the scenery totally changes. Once the trolley crosses the tracks, the road turns from cobblestone to a dirt road. The houses turn from huge mansions to little shacks that are pretty much on top of each other and all look the same. Tiana’s father and her make some gumbo for supper that night and decide to share with all the neighbors. Tianas’ family went outside to the front porch and announced to everyone outside that they made gumbo and to come and get some. After Tiana’s mother made the announcement, about twenty or so neighbors started to walk over to Tiana’s house, and every single one of them was African Americans. This showed to me as I was watching that scene that was just another example of classism in the movie. Although it could be argued too, that since this film was taken place in the Jim Crow era, it could be a show of segregation as well. Another example of classism involves Prince Naveen’s servant, Lawrence. Lawrence begins the movie muddling along trying to balance all of the Prince’s needs while being largely taken for granted, however, when Lawrence is given the chance to pass as Prince Naveen and gain wealth and power for himself, through a spell of the Shadow Man, a black gentleman that practices evil voodoo, Lawrence’s kind-hearted-scolding and hard-working demeanor gives way to class antagonism and bitterness. Lawrence and the Shadow Man, are two sides of the same coin. Both men are working class people who resent the easy life of the rich and want an even easier solution to rectify their class status. Both have allowed bitterness based on actual class antagonism as well as their own failure to challenge it, to taint the way they see the world and the people around them. The last example of classism I ran into in the film was when Tiana went to work as a waitress at one of her two waitressing jobs. It was in a diner setting with the only ones working was Tiana, and an African American cook. All of Tiana’s customers in the diner were high class white people. The way the high class customers were talking to her was demeaning and rude. They were talking to her like she was just a lowly waitress and didn’t deserve respect because of her poor status. There was one instance of discrimination in this movie that I noticed and it was pretty obvious. Discrimination is a sociological term referring to the treatment taken toward or against a person of a certain group in consideration based solely on class or category. Discrimination is the act of being treated differently on the basis of sex or race or any other prejudged characteristic. Tiana’s dream since she was a little girl was to own her very own fancy restaurant. So she worked two waitressing jobs that required her to work long hours and not have any social life what so ever. It shows her doing this for years, telling her friends she can’t go out because she has to work a double shift. Tiana’s hard work for all those years is to save up enough for a down payment on her restaurant. She finally thinks she has enough to start looking for her location. She finds an old abandoned sugar mill that is in pretty bad shape. The property is being sold by Fenner Brothers realty. The Fenner Brothers, two uppity white men from the higher class of New Orleans. They tell her they will have the papers for the transfer of the property to Tiana after Mardi gras. Tiana shows her location for her restaurant to her mother. Tiana is so excited and happy. Tiana and her mother even clean the place up a bit to a song called “I’m almost there”. Later on Tiana meets up with the Fenner brothers at the masquerade ball for Charlotte to meet her prince. As Tiana is serving beignets to everyone, the Fenner bothers come up to her. Tiana asked them if they brought the papers for her to sign. The Fenner brothers inform him that she has been outbid by a gentleman for the whole amount. And if she can’t come up with the whole amount by Wednesday, which is a few days away then the property will go to him. The Fenner brothers tell Tiana” that maybe it’s better off this way cause a little woman of your background would have had her hands full running a big business like that, you’re better off where you’re at” Which to me implies that they thought that Tiana was in over her head trying to buy and run a business, because one she was a woman, two of her class, and three because of the color of her skin. Tiana was totally discriminated by the Fenner Brothers, by telling Tiana that she couldn’t run a business because of their prejudices they had about Tiana as a person. There were several examples of stereotyping in this film. Stereotyping is the belief that all people within the same racial, ethnic, or cultural group will act alike and share the same beliefs and attitudes. Stereotypes ignore individual identity. The first stereotype that I noticed was the notion that all black people believe in voodoo. The spell that was put on Prince Naveen and Tiana that turned them into frogs was cast by a black evil man that practiced voodoo with evil spirits and so on. The only way to reverse the spell is to go deep into the swamps and look for Mama Odie, an older black blind woman who lives in a boat in a tree. Mama Odie also practices voodoo. She shows the two frogs how to break the spell. Voodoo was brought over from West Africa where the slaves came over to America. Another stereotype I noticed was regarding Cajun people. In the frogs adventure into the deep swamps they came across a load of characters. They first came across a trumpet playing alligator named Louis. He was portrayed as a very unintelligent alligator that could play the trumpet. Then, the frogs met Raymond, a firefly that was missing teeth and talked as if he were stupid. Finally the frogs ran into to three men who were hunting frogs. These three men were portrayed has uneducated, dirty, and uncoordinated. They too had missing teeth and bad speech. In my opinion the movie portrayed Cajun people in a bad light. It portrayed the stereotype that all Cajun people are inbred idiots. In conclusion, I thought there were some issues that I noticed that I did leave out of this paper. In this film I did notice some positive sociological aspects in this Disney film. It was nice to see the so called princess in this movie, Princess Tiana work for her “dream come true”. She worked very hard for her dreams unlike other Disney princesses like Sleeping Beauty or Cinderella. Another aspect I liked was that Prince Naveen was from a different race than Tiana. Seeing an interracial couple on the big screen nowadays especially from Disney is nice to see. Since I am in an interracial marriage myself, it hits home with me.

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