Disney movies fall short in race representation

Natalia Gevara, Entertainment Editor

When we think of Disney movies, riveting plot lines, enticing characters and pleasant musicals are what typically comes to mind. However, with Disney being part of much of this generation’s childhood and process of growing up, the more serious issues regarding the films are often overlooked — especially diversity.

Of the 13 Disney princesses — only 30 percent of them are non-white: Jasmine, Pocahontas, Mulan and Tiana.

Some may ask: So what? Why should the race matter? The moral lessons, story-line, and character revelations are what make Disney movies so great, not their skin color.

While that may be true, race isn’t exactly unimportant.

Contemporary mass media plays a significant role in how certain groups of people are treated and viewed in society. Furthermore, the media that children are exposed to has an important effect on their self-esteem.

The release of “Frozen” in the winter of 2013 led to controversy over the lack of people of color in the film. “Frozen” fans defended the film by arguing that “Frozen” takes place in Northern Europe, which is predominantly white.

First of all, “Frozen” doesn’t take place in Europe — it takes place in the fictional kingdom of Arendelle, a region I’m sure you can’t spot on your typical world map. But let’s say that “Frozen” did take place in Europe; that fact doesn’t eliminate the possibility of there being people of color. In fact, there’s historical evidence of many people of color inhabiting Europe.

One example would be the African Muslims who ruled much of the Iberian Peninsula during early 8th century CE, or after the 1500s when Spain expelled their black African population, causing many of them to disperse throughout the rest of the continent, or the thousands of medieval manuscripts, art pieces, and artifacts that depict people of color.

But what if there is no historical evidence of people of color living in Europe? So what? Why does historical accuracy matter  when referring to a movie made for children? If accuracy a problem — you mean to tell me that it’s more “accurate” for there to be a women that shoots ice from her hands than it is for a  person of color to be in Europe?

What does matter is that a child of color can sit in the movie theatre and finally sees a character that she can physically identify with.

Some argue that Disney doesn’t have a problem with diversity. There’s Mulan and Tiana and that one background character in Tangled — isn’t that enough equality?             But what sense does it make for Disney to have 90 percent of their characters of one race, but only have one or two for every other race? If that’s what “equality” is, I guess I don’t know what the word means.

Race is not a defining factor when regarding sincerity, kindness, and personality. However, the media should take the initiative in portraying people of all racial backgrounds in their content.