Why Moana Is Important

Why Moana Is Important

Disney's new animated film forwards progressive ideas.
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"Moana" is Disney’s upcoming animated film set to be released this Thanksgiving. As the date of the premiere approaches, we’ve been given more and more information on the story, and a lot of that info has important repercussions. Here are just a few examples of why this movie is more important that your average Pixar film.

1. People of Color Played by People of Color

The film focuses on the South Pacific, an area largely neglected by the film and animation industry, and features Polynesia characters. The main character, Moana, is played by Auli'i Cravalho who is a native Hawaiian of Chinese, Portuguese, and Irish descent. The actor starring opposite of her, Dwayne Johnson, plays the demigod Maui. Johnson is of Samoan descent. It’s common in animated films to use white actors to play people of color because voice, not color is the main necessity. However, "Moana" refuses to continue that trend.

The diversity is also not limited just to the main characters, as the majority of the cast also consists of people of color, with only Moana’s pet rooster played by a white actor. They also have people of color writing the music and lyrics, with Lin-Manuel Miranda from "Hamilton" as the most well-known of the writers.

2. Strong Female Lead

While a lot of the marketing for the film has focused on Maui (probably because he’s played by the most well-known of the cast, Dwayne Johnson) what the previews have shown of "Moana" is that she’s a very strong female lead. When she meets Maui, she gets furious at him, refusing to back down even if he’s a demigod. She also orders him around on her boat as one of the trailers shows. Yet she’s not all rough edges. When she first sees Maui, she instinctively hides, protecting her pet rooster, and shows fear when she gets caught in a storm. Rather than fit into a stereotype of “nice and polite” or “rude and standoffish,” Moana offers bits of both, making her a well-rounded character, and thus a strong female.

3. Body Diversity

While I’ll admit, the female characters in this film appear to still be lacking in this area, the male characters’ proportions have shifted. Normally in animated films, the princely or heroic characters get portrayed as muscular, while the villains or comic relief get pictured as obese. There was some controversy when the first image of Maui got released, as he’s proportioned rather largely, and many worried that he would be taken as “fat” or “obese.” However, as the trailers have now shown, his size appears distinctly muscular and healthy. Moana’s father also takes on a similar, large stature. At no point so far has the male characters’ size been marketed as a joke or played off as comic relief. Rather, it gets accepted as a normal body type, as it is for so many in the world. The film could stand to improve by including women into that acceptance, but it’s a step in the right direction.

4. No Romance

It’s been confirmed that Moana won’t have a love-interest in the film. This comes as a refreshing break from most of Disney’s films with female main characters. Almost every Disney princess is known for her romantic relationships, and even the films that avoid a romance with a princess often find ways to incorporate the idea of romance. In "Frozen," while Elsa remains single, her sister pursues love for almost the entire film, and in "Brave," Merida doesn’t end up with a suitor, but her entire story comes as the result of refusing romance. Yet, none of the trailers give an indication that romance will feature prominently in Moana. While it’s completely fine for stories to be about romance, it’s also important that romance is the only theme out there. Children, especially little girls, need to see that they don’t have to be in relationship to do great things or be happy.

While we won’t know truly how great a job "Moana" does with social issues until it comes out, it’s definitely worth the support from its progressive stance alone. Also, come on, we already know it’s going to feature some amazing music.

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'The Cruel Prince' Is The Newest Addition To The Land Of Faerie

Holly Black does it again with new faerie novel.
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Holly Black is known for writing marvelous and magical faerie story. And she did it yet again. 'The Cruel Prince' is Black's newest release and the first book in a trilogy. It follows Jude, who was kidnapped at a child and taken to the land of faerie. She never really felt like she belonged there, since she is human, even though the faeries accept her. Everything goes from there.

I found the story really interesting, and it had a few twists and turns that I didn't see coming. A criticism that a lot of YA books get is that it's all kind of predictable. Sometimes it is, but I don't think that that's always a bad thing. It's just a story arc that seems to do well. Nevertheless, that's not the case here. The story was original and had a good plot.

The writing was really good! I have yet to read her other works (such as 'The Spiderwick Chronicles') but I have heard great things about them and am certainly planning on reading them. I really liked Black's writing style, it reads very easily and varies just perfectly.

I thought the characters were very well done. You got to know them pretty well and the same goes for the side characters. Not everything is explored fully yet, but it is a trilogy so there's still a lot of room for that. Next to that, the pacing of the story was also really good. Some people found it a bit slow in the middle, and I can see why. But personally, I didn't really have a problem with it. I thought it was pretty well-paced.

So, overall I think 'The Cruel Prince' is a pretty decent read. You Should really pick it up, especially if you love faeries! It's great for fans of Sarah J Maas (Throne of Glass / A Court of Thorns and Roses) and Julie Kagawa. Be sure to check this new novel out!

Cover Image Credit: Instagram

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7 Reasons Why Your Squad Needs To Be Like the Fab 5

We all have a squad, but the Fab 5 has given us new standards.
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In case you haven’t seen it, I’m here to tell you that Netflix’s revamp of Queer Eye is EVERYTHING! Through the show, you will meet the Fab 5: Bobby Berk, interior design mogul, Antoni Porowski, food and drink specialist, Jonathan Van Ness, style and grooming expert, Tan France, style expert, and finally, Karamo Brown, culture specialist. These five have come together to create one of the funniest, most genuine, and touching show I’ve watched in a long time.

For those of you that have not had the opportunity to watch the show yet, here’s a brief synopsis. The Fab 5 visit with a new person each episode and transforms their lives through fashion, proper grooming, home décor, cuisine, and confidence. It sounds so corny, but it is soooo amazing to watch.

Bobby, Antoni, Jonathan, Tan, Karamo, if you are by chance reading this, I adore you and I thank you for the conversations you are starting. Each episode not only transforms someone’s life, but it also creates conversations all across the country about being openly gay, racial barriers, and so much more. Every single one of you has said something in Queer Eye that has touched me and inspired me to be the best version of myself every single day.

Again, if you haven’t watched this show yet, it is a must watch!

1. They are each other’s biggest fans.

Seriously, go look at all of their Instagrams. These guys hype each other up on the show, on social media, and I’d be willing to bet they do in person, too. We all need friends like that.

2. They’re not afraid to be real with each other.

Of course, I can’t speak for their personal relationships. But, look at how open they are with the guests on the show and with each other. The Fab 5 have real, vulnerable moments that all of us need to have with our friends on the regular.

3. They are FIERCE!

Just look at them! All five of them are incredibly confident in themselves and in each other. Can you imagine how bright a room would feel after this group walks in?

4. Their strengths complement each other.

Let’s be real, this show would not work the way it does if all of them knew fashion like Tan or food/drinks like Antoni. Each of the Fab 5 has a strength that is their focus on the show. They each have something to offer to the guests on Queer Eye, and they know that and don’t step on each other’s toes.

5. They can relate to each other.

This is going to sound so cliché, but you need people around you that can relate to what you’re going through, or can at least kind of relate. These men have all experienced some similar things and they can support each other better through that.

6. They celebrate each other.

They are incredibly supportive of each other, especially when one of them is having a huge impact on one of their guests. We all need friends that will be the first to raise a glass to your victories.

7. They are fun!

Watch one episode and you’ll see what I mean. They genuinely have so much fun together.

Need I say more?


Cover Image Credit: Instagram

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