Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Thoughts on Moana

Recently I mentioned paying a compliment late, and that directly related to Moana.

I had read many complaints about how the culture is represented in Moana, and problems people had with it. This made me reluctant to see it, but then someone I follow who has some Polynesian ancestry tweeted about it, and some of the things that she liked about it. It reminded me that there can be multiple views. Going back to yesterday, we can both appreciate and be critical of things. We should.

It was a good reminder for me that even when you are trying to do better you will make mistakes. That doesn't completely eliminate the value of the effort. There is some comfort in that.

If you are interested in more about the controversy, this is a pretty good article:

This does not include all of the complaints I have seen, and am going to go over a few. It can be okay to disagree with any of them, but it is important to listen, and not automatically discount something just because it didn't bother you.

The ocean is an important part of the movie, and it will be polluted with highly disposable merchandising from the movie. That is true. That is more about a need to step away from conspicuous consumption than any one individual movie, but Disney is a big part of that.

The movie does what it wants with what for some people is sacred religion. I had not thought of that. I think of those stories as a mythology, and one that has developed a little differently among the different islands, which I would think of as a reason for being able to assume some liberties. However, it not being sacred to me doesn't mean that it can't matter to anyone else, nor that their reverence should not matter to others. There may be a need for more sensitivity there.

These movies are always about casting off tradition and breaking with the past. There is a point to that, though that happens with European-centric characters too. Of course, in this case Moana was going against the rules of her father to go back to an even earlier tradition.

Another point was made about romance being de-emphasized with heroines of color that ended up leading to a pretty interesting discussion. Beauty standards are often held against non-white women, and it does affect who gets love scenes across a wide spectrum of entertainment. However, there has also been a tendency to counter sexist tropes by having current princesses get rescued less and be less about the prince.

That of course is a reminder that you can't represent everything in a single movie. We need to have many movies, and they need to not all be the same movie so that we can see many different things and understand many different situations better. Representation itself will be the main topic tomorrow.

For now, I have finally seen Moana and I really liked it. I ended up being more taken with the environmental aspects. If you remove the heart from great power, and the power to create, that can become both a source of violent danger and something that will slowly poison all life. It can easily happen due not to any bad intent, but simply due to a quest for glory (or money) that doesn't get well thought out. That there is hope for restoration, and how beautiful that restoration was, is again something that was a hopeful sign for me.

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