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.

Cover Image Credit: http://www.heyuguys.com/images/2016/06/Moana-poster-slice.jpg

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Remember To Be Kind To Theme Park Cast Members This Holiday Season

They make the magic for you.
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For those of you who have traveled to a theme park during the holidays, you know what you are in for.

The weeks right before and after Christmas are some of the busiest times of the year to visit, making the parks extremely crowded and wait times higher than usual. Yet, this time is so popular since it is fun to experience the magic of the season with your family during the special Christmastime celebrations at the parks that bring something extra to your holidays.

One of the most important things to remember during this time of year is to be nice to the cast members!

Families that come to the parks during this time have so much to remember and so much to do; unfortunately, something that is often forgotten during a vacation is to be thankful for those who have to work during this time of year.

The cast members and team members who work during the holidays are doing so at the expense of spending time with their own families. They are sacrificing their Christmas celebrations at home to be at work making your vacation magical.

Some of these workers are hundreds if not thousands of miles away from their families and may not have seen them for weeks or even months. Yet, they are here in Orlando working in a job that they are passionate about because they love making happiness for their guests

Making magic and spreading happiness is something that is important to us and why we love what we do. However, it is still really hard to be away from our families at Christmas.

Think it is hard to be a guest when the parks are crowded?

It's even more difficult for the cast members who are working as hard as they can, for 8-15 hour shifts, when things happen that are out of our control. We too dislike long waits, telling your child that he is too short to ride or the fact that a ride is temporarily closed. These things make our jobs difficult too, just as they may be a huge setback in your vacation plans.

So focus on the positive things and appreciate the time you can spend with your families and friends rather than dwelling on the things that may be small setbacks during an overall wonderful holiday vacation. Please be patient this holiday season. Give the cast members a smile and a pleasant "thank you" or "Merry Christmas". We are here for you and we want you to have a wonderful vacation, but it still makes an incredible difference to know that our work is appreciated.

At this time of year, it is important to spread Christmas cheer and we are excited to celebrate with you and your families!

Cover Image Credit: Park Troopers

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12 Classics That All College Students Should Read

Reading is important — yet many people forget about books.

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These are the classics that I think all college students should read.

1. "Catcher in the Rye" by J.D. Salinger

This classic by J.D. Salinger is a staple for many high school kids. Yet, I believe college students should revisit this novel, as it's a great portrayal of adolescence.

2. "The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald 

Love him or hate him, Jay Gatsby is one of literature's most recognizable characters. "The Great Gatsby" is a tragic story of a man stuck in the past, and a grim warning of the empty happiness money buys.

3. "The Time Machine" by H.G. Wells

H.G. Wells was far beyond his time. His novel, "The Time Machine," explores what would happen if time-travelling could happen. It's both an evocative and frightening tale, full of important philosophical questions.

4. "The Picture of Dorian Gray" by Oscar Wilde 

This novel is about the degradation of Dorian Gray, and his descent into depravity. It showcases one of the greatest character declines in literature. By the end, Dorian Gray finds his life to be empty, his hedonistic lifestyle pointless.

5. "Norwegian Wood" by Haruki Murakami 

Haruki Murakami is famous for his surreal novels. "Norwegian Wood" follows a college student in Japan, as he navigates life after a tragedy. It's both beautiful yet melancholy. If nothing else, it'll get you listening to the Beatles' Norwegian Wood.

6. "Jane Eyre" by Charlotte Bronte 

I consider "Jane Eyre" to be one of the first feminist novels. It's a fantastic Gothic novel about an independent and strong woman — Jane Eyre — who meets the mysterious Mr. Rochester. It's more than a romance — it's a commentary on Victorian societal expectations of women, with Jane representing objection to it.

7. "The Book Thief" by Markus Zusak

This novel is a beautiful story about a girl in Nazi Germany. Liesel Meminger knows the importance of books, and uses her knowledge and kindness to save a Jewish refugee. It's a poignant novel that expresses the importance of literature and books.

8. Any Sherlock Holmes mystery by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

If you've watched the Sherlock series with Benedict Cumberbatch, then you should definitely give the novels a go. The mysteries are exciting and intriguing, despite their old age.

9. "Great Expectations" by Charles Dickens

This is one of my absolute favorites novels. It follows a young boy named Pip, who befriends a beggar, meets the depraved Miss Havisham, and falls in love with unattainable Estella. This novel is at once a bildungsroman and a tragedy.

10.  "Lolita" by Vladimir Nabokov 

This controversial novel by Vladimir Nobokov follows the perspective of Humbert Humbert, a depraved man who falls in love with 12-year-old Lolita. Nobokov showcases his mastery of the English language, while writing a depraved and tragic story following two terrible people.

11.  "Pride and Prejudice" by Jane Austen

Perhaps one of the most famous novels of all time, "Pride and Prejudice" stands the test of time by showing how two outwardly opposite and contrary people can come together and form an amazing love. It's about accepting one's flaws and getting to know people beyond surface level.

12.  "All Quiet on the Western Front" by Erich Maria Remarque

This is a fantastic novel that depicts the absolute horrors of war, particularly World War I. If this doesn't enlighten you about the realities and horrors of war, then no book will.

Reading is important as it broadens one's horizon. Literature is one of the greatest inventions of mankind.

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