Disney Princesses & The Definition of Whitewashing

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Saw this on Tumblr, I felt I should share it with the world..

(Source: http://triflesandparsnips.tumblr.com/post/63721180232/raptorific-seriously-it-surprises-me-that)

Seriously, it surprises me that people still don’t get that “whitewashing” doesn’t just mean “taking a character of color and turning them white,” but also applies to “focusing disproportionately on the stories of white people,” “glossing over or altering parts of a story to make it more palatable or make white people look better,” and “treating ‘white’ as the default race”

The fact that Disney churns out film after film after film after film about white people with a maximum of one film per ethnicity that showcases a group other than white people is whitewashing.

The fact that the story of “Pocahontas” (not her real name) has been substantially altered so that some of the white people in that story don’t look like such villains, with John Smith younger and Pocahontas significantly older, as well as recounting a popular myth of her saving John Smith from near-execution (a story John Smith made up to make himself look brave, the real Pocahontas told him to stop telling and hated him for using her to make himself look good, and he started to spread like wildfire after she died because she could no longer object) is whitewashing.

The fact that the characters on “How I Met Your Mother” are all white, and they supposedly live in New York City, but apparently associate exclusively with other white people (with the exception of Wayne Brady, who occasionally visits from out of town, and a recurring taxi driver) is whitewashing.

The fact that the Doctor has now been a white man a full twelve times in a row is whitewashingeven though the character’s always been white, because the idea that there’s a character whose entire appearance can change in a matter of seconds, yet ends up white twelve times in a row by pure random chance, implies that white is a neutral default and other races are a deviation from that norm.

The fact that people get really angry at the suggestion that characters like Newt Scamander or Hermione Granger could be black because the books never explicitly say “they are black” is whitewashing.

Because that’s the thing. People often assume that when someone’s race isn’t explicitly specified, they’re white. People insist that Katniss Everdeen must be white because it is possible for them to rationalize that idea in their head. People think of white as “raceless” and every other color or ethnicity as “raced,” and that’s what we call “eurocentrism.”

And that’s the thing about whitewashing. It’s this idea that a “person” is white, and a “person of color” is black or asian or arab or latin@ or whatever they might be.

It’s why people call John Stewart the “Black Green Lantern” but just call Hal Jordan the “Green Lantern.” It’s why Miles Morales is called “Black Spider-man” but Peter Parker is just “Spider-man.” If you want to throw gender into the mix, it’s why Jennifer Walters is the “She-Hulk” but Bruce Banner isn’t the “He-Hulk.”

People think “character” is white and “character + black” is black. There is no default race.Community did a whole episode about how a truly raceless character would look something like this monstrosity:

But there’s the tricky part: Once you stop thinking of white characters as “character” and start thinking of them as “character + white,” it becomes really overwhelming how many characters are white.

I mean, I know there’s a kerfuffle over Disney Princesses right now, so let’s look at the list of official Disney Princesses, shall we? That is, let’s look at the list and include everyone’s race, not just the princesses of color:

  • Snow White + White
  • Cinderella + White
  • Aurora + White
  • Ariel + White
  • Belle + White
  • Jasmine + Arab
  • Pocahontas + Native American
  • Mulan + Asian
  • Tiana + Black
  • Rapunzel + White
  • Merida + White
    Soon to be added:
  • Anna + White
  • Elsa + White

4 of those 13 women are women of color. All four of those women of color are different races than one another. At the moment, the number of white princesses is seven, but it’s about to go up to nine. All nine of those princesses are the same race as one another, despite a few of them being different nationalities, although most of them hail from Western Europe.

And a lot of people are saying “but they’re just accurately portraying the parts of the world those stories are set in!” First of all, the presence of a person of color has never been implausible in any part of the world, in any period of human history. Hell, a bunch of these movies were set after Shakespeare had born, lived, and died, but he still managed to write a play set centuries earlier featuring a black male lead in Italy.

Second, and most importantly, it’s not like they are being assigned a setting at random and have to accommodate it in their character designs. The people at Disney choose to set film after film after film in France and Germany and Denmark.

It’s not that those areas produce more or better fairy tales and folk tales than any of the other continents, it’s that the stories that come from those areas are the ones Disney considers universal.

In the eyes of Disney, there’s a Princess for Black little girls to look up to, a Princess for Native little girls to look up to, a Princess for Arab little girls to look up to, a Princess for Asian little girls to look up to, and nine princesses for all little girls to look up to. It’s no coincidence that in almost all promotional art featuring the “Princess Lineup,” Jasmine, Tiana, Mulan, and Pocahontas are all standing in the back, usually obscured by other white Princesses’ dresses, while the blonde lady brigade stands in the front.

And that is whitewashing.

I could not have said it any better.. Bravo..

Big Brother 15 keeping it all the way real.. Real Prejudice..

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CBS’s hit show Big Brother has become a guilty pleasure for me the past few summers. I’ve never been much of a reality show watcher but this human game of chess composed of many layers of lies and deceit is rather interesting to me. Put a bunch of strangers in a house together with cash on the line and you really get to see how shitty people will become to one another all in the name of the Almighty Dollar.

This season, not even two weeks in, may go down as one of the most controversial ever. Now the conspiracy theorist in me finds it interesting that this is happening so close to the Paula Deen debacle which has been a ratings draw. I find it interesting how the following event after David, Aaryn’s on camera love interest, gets evicted Jeremy and Aaryn get away with cheating and Jeremy was so quick to give Aaryn the HOH only to follow up with I can focus on trying to win HOH next week. Regardless of all that, the problem at hand is that this season’s cast is rather, well prejudice.

As I scour online from Tumblr to Twitter to Facebook, I see people in an uproar calling for Aaryn and several other House Guest to be removed from the show. I find this interesting, for one, because all the people I see upset are Caucasians who have not been targeted by any of this bigotry. Also because, and maybe its due to my cynical view of the world as a 30-year-old African-American, I think to myself, “Who Cares?”

The fact that a bunch of Caucasians, many from the South, have prejudice viewpoints just doesn’t shock me anymore. Similar to the Paula Deen incident. I didn’t bat my eye at it, because it wasn’t a surprise. I was more surprised how the Paula Deen incident turned from a TV celebrity using derogatory slurs to, “Well black people say nigger, why can’t I?” (My thoughts being, why do you wanna say nigger so bad?) I also won’t get started on CNN’s, “What’s Worse the N-Word or Cracker?” (Probably the one you had to bleep out.) Also when did this turn into a black/white thing, I thought a white woman sued her and not about the N-Word.

I don’t care when a TV personality gets caught with their pants down and says something not PC. All it once again shows me is that the only difference between the 60’s and now is at least back then, you knew who your enemy was.

P.S. Dear Aaryn, whose parents probably meant to name you Aryan but got the spelling wrong, if you ever decide to walk on the dark side.. DM me.. @whoisadversity

Holla!

Less end this with a Big Brother Bigotry MegaMix!!!