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TOPIC: Disney in hot water over characters in Moana

Disney in hot water over characters in Moana 04 Dec 2016 18:55 #11148

  • wendell.t
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Disney's latest animated film, Moana, will heavily feature South Pacific myths and culture, something rarely explored on film. The film centers on Moana, a born navigator who sets sail in search of a fabled island and teams up with the heroic demigod Maui. There is a group of people who has claimed that the film portrays negative stereotypes, specifically with the character Maui. These activists believe that Disney is misrepresenting their culture by making Maui severely overweight.

Maui in Polynesian mythology is a demigod who is responsible for many heroic feats, which include slowing down the sun and raising up the Hawaiian Islands from the ocean floor. That aspect of the character is represented in Moana, but several activists are taking issue with the way Maui looks. They believe that the character is too fat and that it portrays a negative stereotype about Polynesians. People collected a few statements from prominent figures in the South Pacific and why they had an issue with Disney's Maui. Jenny Salesa from the New Zealand Parliament had this to say:
When we look at photos of Polynesian men and women from the last 100 to 200 years, most of our people were not overweight, and this negative stereotype of Maui is just not acceptable.
Disney's version of Maui is certainly heavyset and it's understandable that people are speaking out to make sure their culture, which isn't represented often, is shown respectfully. Maui in mythology is strong enough to stop the sun and the stockiness of the Disney version does convey that power. He looks both physically strong and confident.
Many people have come out to defend Disney on the appearance of Moana. Samoan comic book artist Michel Mulipola also brought up that animation design is a big factor in conveying personality. He goes on to argue that Maui's "thick, solid build conveys power and strength."
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