Last night my coworker and coauthor Von started telling me about a Yahoo News story she found about Jennifer Hudson taking a photo dressed as Disney Princess Tiana. I proceeded to rant about my issues with The Princess and the Frog and all the things I found wrong with it. Von laughs and said if you feel that way, blog about it. So here I am.
When I first heard that Disney after so many decades was introducing its first black princess the little girl in me screamed with glee. Finally a princess that looks like me! I wasn’t the only one who was ecstatic. I saw all the news reports about little black girls who were excited, going to the theater dressed up in their costumes and sparkly tutus. Even though it may have seemed like a trivial event, for little black girls it was historic. We were finally being recognized.
I finally sat down to watch the movie and my initial reaction was: What the hell is this? We waited all these years for this garbage?
Now my issue isn’t with Tiana. She’s a hardworking sister and I love her to death. She works hard to make her dreams come true, which in the real, non-Disneyized world is a great lesson. I think Disney did a good job with how her character was portrayed. My issue isn’t with her, it’s with the loser they decided to hook her up with.
It felt like they went to the Disney vault of bad qualities and just grabbed a handful. Prince Naveen was broke because he was so trifling and irresponsible that his royal parents disinherited him. He was a womanizer and spent part of the movie chasing after Tiana’s BFF and surrounded by groupies. He was lazy and not to mention narcissistic. This is the first black Disney princess and they set her up with this douchebag? As my dear departed Grandmother would say, he ain’t worth two dead flies. What are they saying about black women? We’re going to eventually end up with a loser like this? What happened to our Prince Charming?
Now of course at the end of the movie everything is set right and Prince Naveen has totally changed his ways, but c’mon. Leopards really don’t change their spots. How long after the credits roll before Tiana catches Naveen with Belle or he starts trying to pull on Rapunzel’s extensions? How long before Sleeping Beauty shows up for a paternity test and yelling about child support? Nah, I don’t think so.
Historically most heroes and princes in Disney lore have been pretty bland with a few rare exceptions. I would rather have had a prince who’s just window dressing then the hot mess Tiana was stuck with. She isn’t the only minority princess who was stuck with a loser. Look at middle eastern Princess Jasmine who was stuck with Aladdin; a liar, thief, and a con artist who’d escaped from death row.
Now I’m not throwing down the race card and yelling Uno, I think Disney made a good attempt at giving their audience what they wanted. I just ask that when they decide to give us the second black Disney Princess, they put a little more thought into who she marries.