Moana and noticing the good in Disney

Yesterday, one of my students sent me a link to this article in The Mary Sue, ‘“My Fish”: How The Little Mermaid Helped a Genderqueer Teen Find Strength‘ by Jennie Steinberg:

When Taylor was in kindergarten […] he saw The Little Mermaid in theaters. “I remember seeing her hide who she was from her family and for the first time I thought, ‘I’m not alone.’ It was a revelation to me.

It struck me how often Disney princesses appear ‘normative’ on the outside, but their ‘I wish’ songs reveal that they don’t feel normal inside. The songs offer space to express non-normative experience. Sure, there are a lot of white princesses, but they feel odd, strange, isolated. They yearn for something more.

I am really looking forward to Moana. I’m already noting quite a bit of negative coverage, although the film itself is yet to be released. There’s often an assumption that Disney will get it wrong and, truthfully, they won’t get it exactly right. However, stories and myths and legends all change and evolve. This will be a Disney tale about Maui and it won’t accurately reflect all the stories that have been told. It will be a Disney tale and it can’t be otherwise. However, it has a wonderful cast and I’m really excited about Lin-Manuel Miranda’s involvement. He recently took over the @disneyanimation Instagram and performed a rousing ‘Gaston‘ with the Rock and I didn’t think my day could improve.