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NY Times on Disney’s "Princess and the Frog" vs. Critics of Race

by on June 1, 2009

The New York Times has surveyed the obstacles facing Disney’s The Princess and the Frog (free registration required), noting the equal amounts of praise and criticism it has drawn several months before its release because it will depict the first black Disney Princess character. On the one side, Disney can claim that cast member Oprah Winfrey acted as a consultant for the racial aspects of the movie and that theater owners and members of the NAACP who have seen segments of the movie had “extremely positive” reactions. Producer Peter Del Vecho added that, “We feel a great responsibility to get this right,” and added that the decision to make Tiana black came about organically.

On the other side, many critics are blasting Disney for the prince character’s relatively light skin color, suggesting that he is not black; accusing the company of insensitivity for setting the movie in New Orleans, “the setting of one of the most devastating tragedies to beset a black community”; targeting Ray the firefly for being a stereotype of an uneducated Southerner; and complaining about the princess’ original name (Maddy) and rumored profession in an early version of the script (chambermaid to a wealthy white woman).

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