Racialicious's Latoya Peterson and I on PRI's THE TAKEAWAY, talking about THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG—listen here!
(THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG trailer)
Terrific segment, but way too short...like, we were skating on the sheer surface of the iceberg here.
Disney has had, shall we say, a very mixed record on race issues in its past, particularly its deep past. Check out this incredible YouTube vid for some examples of this...:
("Racism in Disney" compilation clip)
I do think they've gotten quite a bit better (and more conscientious—they've really pushed to get community buy-in on this film in particular). They knew from the get-go that they were walking in a landscape full of potential pitfalls with this movie, and to their credit, they put together a pretty wonderful tale, with fantastic voice-acting (particularly the leads, Anika Noni Rose as Tiana and Bruno Campos as Prince Naveen) and truly gorgeous animation. (John Lasseter and his animators were using the film to make the case to preserve 2D and make no mistake, they've made it. There are things here you couldn't imagine doing using CGI.)
But in the process of riding down the middle lane—trying too hard, perhaps, to both make this an affirmative and aspirational African American tale and also to avoid seeming like a "PC diversityfest," they've crafted a story that seems designed to warm the cockles of conservative hearts. More on the film later—I'll be writing about it in my next column for the San Francisco Chronicle. For now, here's me and the always awesome Latoya Peterson chatting with equally excellent John Hockenberry on The Take.