Disney’s colors of the wind – POC presentation and Disney movies

“Encanto” is the newest animation movie produced by the Walt Disney Company. With its release date set on the 21st of November 2021, Disney fans can look forward to a humorous addition to the list of impactful and love-filled 3D animation movies. Especially one country is celebrating the announcement of “Encanto”: Columbia. With the story taking place in the beautiful and culturally diverse South American country, Columbians are ecstatic to see themselves being represented on the big screen. But why exactly is it important to have diverse representation in media, and why is it especially impactful that the movie is a Disney product?

The ever-changing entertainment industry

With the rise of social media came a new way to amplify your own voice online, which is especially important for minorities and people of color (POC). While today’s media landscape might seem colorful and representing a wide variety of people, this wasn’t always the case. White people were dominating the movie industry, which meant the media they produced were heavily focused on white people as well. If people of color were included in movies or shows, they often were subject to stereotypes. For years, however, the industry has been changing and is becoming more inclusive. More and more movies and shows are being directed and written by people of color, and more POC actors are shown on screen.

Mirror, Mirror on the wall

Why exactly do we need POC representation in our media? The answer is simple: it’s a more accurate reflection of our world. There isn’t just the British or American culture and there are not just white European people. There are more cultures in the world than many can even imagine, and they have the same right to see themselves being represented in media as anyone else. A Columbian child growing up and only seeing European or North American culture being portrayed in their favorite shows might lead to them missing out on their own culture.

Disney, the media giant

The Disney company owns many big movie studios and popular franchises in the industry, among them Pixar and Marvel. With their movies being the more successful ones on the market, they have a huge influence on what, and more importantly who, we see on the screen. As many superhero movies in Disney’s arsenal already state: with great power comes great responsibility. Disney arguably has a huge responsibility to bear when it comes to accurately representing POC and different cultures. There are, of course, older movies that already made attempts, for example Aladdin or Pocahontas. However, these movies often succeeded only partially, and their representation is subject to criticism. With “Encanto” Disney has granted themselves another try at satisfying their diverse fanbase, and hopefully they won’t disappoint their Columbian fans.

Author: Oskar Kartasinski

Who run the world?

A special kind of girls!

Hollywood is changing. Movements like #metoo or the Weinstein-scandal prove that actresses are still facing sexual harassment and discrimination in the show business. So, while female artists start to challenge their position in the movie metropolis, how come the characters they so often embody are still tied to old-fashioned clichés?

“Diamonds are a girl’s best friend.” vs. The Tomboy

First, we have the beautiful, pink, lipstick loving, girlie girl. She is totally into fashion and … well, that’s about it. Sometimes portrayed as a bit silly, always very superficial and definitely hyper-sensitive like Gossip Girls’ Serena van der Woodsen or Legally Blondes’ Elle Woods. Mean Girls’ Regina George was at least given the potential to be the villain of her movie by creating the proto-typical evil first cheerleader who embodies all the clichés and is simply unlikeable. However, this cliché does not apply to all girls and even Hollywood realized it so they decided to widen the field of female characters by creating the absolute opposite of the girlie: the tomboy. Mulan and Game of Thrones’ Aria Stark are probably two of the most prominent examples. This type of woman is portrayed with traits that society usually attributes to men, like fierceness and a thirst for adventures. Sounds like a cool character! Well, if you enjoy wearing men’s clothes and being friend-zoned by all the boys, it is. This character is nearly always bold and funny, but never anyone’s crush or even allowed a bit of sexiness. You say they are totally different? I say they have a few things in common… Sure, their interests and character traits differ massively but they have two things in common: First, every female character always looks effortlessly stunning. And second, their whole existence serves one purpose: make the female lead look better.

The Female Lead

We all know and love them: Hermione Granger, Princess Leia or Katniss Everdeen. The woman you really want to be. Obviously, they, too, look stunning and gorgeous throughout the entire movie. The difference is they are not aware of it and don’t even care about it. This character depends on its differentiation to the girls around her. She is prettier than the girlie girl without even trying, cooler than the tomboy without caring and also smart, funny and everything else. By highlighting her specialness, the other girls seem inferior, undesirable and even pathetic.

Is Netflix our Silver Lining?

To be clear, I like Hermione and Katniss as much as everyone else does because they are strong and fight for what is right. But would it be so terrible if they were shown ironing their hair in the morning? 3-dimensional characters like Jess Day from New Girl are rare: she’s a bit weird but embraces it, she is not cool about sex or relationships, she dresses funny and yet she doesn’t want to change. Her character is loved by her friends not because, but despite of her sometimes annoying habits. We need more female role-models like her and Netflix is giving them to us with Set it Up’s dedicated, hard-working Harper, who is truly interested in Baseball and too nice to the people around her, or with Love and Monsters’ Aimee. She also has an impressive personality, as she not only manages to survive the apocalyptic appearance of the monsters, but also serves as the leader of an entire colony of survivors. While those women are, again, of course breathtakingly beautiful they still are fantastic characters as they struggle with insecurities and make mistakes but prove themselves through hard work and their positive character traits. So, while Hollywood kind of fails to improve their girls, Netflix shows how character development is done.

Author: Anja Sonn