I have long history of disgust with Disney, and even more specifically Disney princesses. Many of the princesses send a firmly anti-woman message to young girls and they are largely White, or play into a colonialist narrative like Pocahontas. It was with much trepidation that I clicked on a link directing me to an image of princess Sofia.
Once again, light bright and damn near White wins again. Would it have killed Disney to make a Latina princess look more Latina? It certainly does not help matters that the voice of Sofia is herself a White woman, but we are supposed to believe that Disney is all about equal representation all of a sudden. Sure they’re about diversity as long as the person of colour as passing privilege. We see this in the media time and time again and yet continue to expect a cookie for their faux inclusion. Princess Sofia even lives in a made up country because heaven forbid anywhere in Latin America be chosen as a setting.
Disney’s spokeswoman provided a recent statement to CNN to help clarify what exactly makes “Princess Sofia” Latina:
“The range of characters in ‘Sofia the First’ — and the actors who play them — are a reflection of Disney’s commitment to diverse, multicultural and inclusive storytelling, and the wonderful early reaction to ‘Sofia’ affirms that commitment. In the story, Sofia’s mother, Queen Miranda, was born in a fictitious land, Galdiz, a place with Latin influences. Miranda met Sofia’s father, Birk Balthazar, who hailed from the kingdom of Freezenberg, and together they moved to Enchancia, where Sofia was born.”
I wonder why it didn’t occur to them that the fact that they had to justify this character, and explain the ways in which she supposedly conforms, proves their intended message missed the mark. Instead of making changes, when specifically told by the Latino community, “Sofia the First” is set to debut November 18 on the Disney Channel and Disney Junior. Sofia reads as yet another colonialist imagining on people that have been deemed other – yeah for progress. Does anyone feel like hitting the kitchen to bake some cookies?
I haven’t seen the movie yet, so I have no idea whether or not it will be filled with the usual passive female waiting to be saved but given Disney’s history, I have little hope for better. In fact, I wish they would just stop altogether with this princess nonsense, since they cannot seem to get it right and focus on creating active characters who engage intelligently with their world. I would like to see empowered female characters. From the moment Disney started this project, it was smply a hot mess waiting to happen.