[Editor's note: Today, Racialicious has posted several intriguing posts about "The Princess and the Frog." We have crossposted this review from a child's point of view. Read the other posts here and here.]
Disney’s new film “The Princess and the Frog” has sparked a lot of conversation primarily because Tiana, the princess is black. As adults we have plenty to say about the effects of the film, whether it’ll impact young black girls in a positive manner and if it portrays black folks/New Orleans/voodoo objectively.
That’s all well and good, but I think it’s vitally important to hear what someone from the film’s target audience has to say. TH, my fabulous assistant, went on a fieldtrip with several kindergarten and first-grade classes from her school to see the film. She was kind enough to take some time out from her hectic schedule to answer a few questions.
*Please note, TH is five, so her discussion of the film is probably not in sequential order and she probably only remembered the parts she liked. We’re working on those skills.
SH: So I hear you went to see a movie today. What was the name of it again?
TH: The Princess and the Frog! *giggles*
SH: Did you like it?
TH: Oh mommy, it was fabulous and funny and hilarious!
SH: Really? So tell me what happened.
TH: There was a girl and she had a mommy and daddy, just like me!
SH: What was the girl’s name?
SH: What did she look like?
TH: Oh, she was pretty and her face was brown, like me.
SH: Wow!! So what happened?
TH: There was a firefly bug and an alligator. The alligator was big. The alligator played the horn and they were dancing. *pretends to play the horn*
SH: That sounds like a lot of fun! What else happened?
TH: The songs were good. I liked the songs because they were funny.
SH: That’s great! So were there other people in the movie, or just Tiana and her mommy and daddy?
TH: Mommy, you are silly. There were more people and animals too!
SH: Ok, and they were?
TH: They were in the city. The city was big. There was a boy with a hat and a man with a purple suit and a really big hat. I forgot his name. There was a nice lady. She lived in a treehouse in the woods. She was loud too and had a snake. Can I have a snake?
TH: Oh, the man with the big hat had on a scary necklace. And there was another boy with a white face and tiny eyes.
SH: That sounds like a lot going on. So what happened?
TH: We ate peanut butter and jelly and had apple juice. I spilled some on my jacket.
SH: I know. I cleaned your jacket. What happened in the movie?
TH: The man with the big hat made the prince into a frog. The prince had big shoulders like you mommy.
SH: Um, ok. (o_O)
TH: Then the frog was at the pond and said ribbit and Tiana was at the pond and the frog kissed her and made her face slimy and she became a frog too.
SH: Wow, that sounds crazy. What happened next?
TH: It was crazy mommy. then there was a lot of singing and music and they saw the old lady in the tree and there was a parade and then the boy frog kissed Tiana frog and she turned into a princess and he was a handsome boy again with a brown face. She was a beautiful princess mommy. She had on a princess dress and a princess hat and lipgloss. *does the princess praise dance*
SH: So would you say it was a good movie?
TH: Oh yes, I want to see it again.
So there you have it. I haven’t seen the movie yet, but it’s on our holiday list of things to do. After talking to TH, I looked up the film summary and for a five year old, she remembered a lot. Again, it was probably what she wanted to remember. It was interesting to note how it seems like she paid more attention to the brown faces and singing/dancing animals than any of the white characters. That could be because the white characters were secondary in the film.
While the cultural critics and pundits are dissecting The Princess and the Frog for the masses, please remember this: no single film is going to raise or lower the self-esteem or self-worth of a collective group, however, it is important to make sure that films and other forms of media are discussed with our children in an age-appropriate manner. Yes, there are probably faults with the movie, as there usually are when it comes to any media, but we shouldn’t throw out the baby with the bathwater.
When we are thoughtful and objective we can build and improve upon what has come before.