Disney's new animated movie sparks controversy

By Kimberly Holmes – bio | email

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19)  - Disney's latest animated flick "the Princess and the Frog" is expected to be a big hit. And although it isn't out for another three weeks, it's already stirring up controversy.

While the heroine, Princess Tiana, is black, her prince is not. And that has many critics complaining the movie produces a less than fairy tale ending for many viewers in the black community.

The new animated flick is set in New Orleans in the 1920s but today it's breaking barriers. So what do young people who saw America elect it's first black president one year ago think about this? We went to the Boys and Girls club in Avondale and the School for Creative and Performing Arts in Cincinnati to find out.

"When I was little, I liked all the Disney princesses," said student Briana Lundy "And I wanted to be, my favorite one was Jazmin, and I loved it, but I still always wanted a black princess."

At SCPA, Tiana's Prince Naveen received a much less royal welcome.

We showed students pictures of the new prince. After that, we heard smirks, giggles, and even gasps. Since Disney first announced the project, many people especially within the black community have expressed concerns over Prince Naveen. He's tall, dark and handsome, but for many, the prince isn't dark enough.

"It's the little girls that watch it and follow that example," said SCPA student Adrian Hackle. "The black girl's with a white guy so I want to be with a white guy, too because that's the example that's being presented."

SCPA Student Martha Patterson disagrees.

"I do think it represents interracial couples," Patterson said. "And that is part of the modern world. And it will relate to the modern audience more than just like an all black couple or and a bunch of all white couples like all the other Disney movies."

Though many are praising Disney's interracial love story, some people said the film is sending a mixed message; one that some critics say can hurt an unexpected demographic: black boys.

"This is a problem for little African-American boys," said Xavier Professor Anna Ghee. "The rate of marriage, the desire to marry is lower. So it won't have that positive impact where they can think about love as something heroic."

Disney producer Peter Del Vecho and Screenwriter Rob Edwards disagreed.

"I'm well aware of some of the issues being written about or on the internet," said Del Vecho. "What gives us satisfaction is when people see the film, those issues melt away."

"I thought to make this about race is to completely miss the point," said Edwards. "It's a musical fairy tale. I knew where our heart was all the way through. We wanted to make a princess for everybody."

And it looks like Disney has youth on its side.

"People think that Princess Tiana and Prince Naveen shouldn't be together," said 10-year-old Luckya Barnett. "It really shouldn't matter. As long as they think they're right for each other and they have the same love about each other."

The "Princess and the Frog" hits theaters December 11th.

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