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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31 Reasons Why I Would NEVER Watch Season 2 Of '13 Reasons Why'

It does not effectively address mental illness, which is a major factor in suicide.
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When I first started watching "13 Reasons Why" I was excited. I had struggled with depression and suicidal thoughts for a long time and thought this show would be bringing light to those issues. Instead, it triggered my feelings that I had suppressed.

With season two coming out soon, I have made up my mind that I am NEVER watching it, and here is why:

1. This show simplifies suicide as being a result of bullying, sexual assault, etc. when the issue is extremely more complex.

2. It does not effectively address mental illness, which is a major factor in suicide.

3. The American Foundation of Suicide Prevention has guidelines on how to portray suicides in TV shows and movies without causing more suicides.

"13 Reasons Why" disregarded those guidelines by graphically showing Hannah slitting her wrists.

4. It is triggering to those who have tried to commit suicide in the past or that struggle with mental illness.

5. It glorifies suicide.

6. It does not offer healthy coping solutions with trauma and bullying.

The only "solution" offered is suicide, which as mentioned above, is glorified by the show.

7. This show portrays Hannah as dramatic and attention-seeking, which creates the stereotype that people with suicidal thoughts are dramatic and seeking attention.

8. Hannah makes Clay and other people feel guilty for her death, which is inconsiderate and rude and NOT something most people who commit suicide would actually do.

9. This show treats suicide as revenge.

In reality, suicide is the feeling of hopelessness and depression, and it's a personal decision.

10. Hannah blames everyone but herself for her death, but suicide is a choice made by people who commit it.

Yes, sexual assault and bullying can be a factor in suicidal thoughts, but committing suicide is completely in the hands of the individual.

11. Skye justifies self-harm by saying, "It's what you do instead of killing yourself."

12. Hannah's school counselor disregards the clear signs of her being suicidal, which is against the law and not something any professional would do.

13. The show is not realistic.

14. To be honest, I didn't even enjoy the acting.

15. The characters are underdeveloped.

16. "13 Reasons Why" alludes that Clay's love could have saved Hannah, which is also unrealistic.

17. There are unnecessary plot lines that don't even advance the main plot.

18. No one in the show deals with their problems.

They all push them off onto other people (which, by the way, is NOT HEALTHY!!!).

19. There is not at any point in the show encouragement that life after high school is better.

20. I find the show offensive to not only me, but also to everyone who has struggled with suicidal thoughts.

21. The show is gory and violent, and I don't like that kind of thing.

22. By watching the show, you basically get a step-by-step guide on how to commit suicide.

Which, again, is against guidelines set by The American Foundation of Suicide Prevention.

23. The show offers no resources for those who have similar issues to Hannah.

24. It is not healthy for me or anyone else to watch "13 Reasons Why."

25. Not only does the show glorify suicide, but it also glorifies self-harm as an alternative to suicide.

26. Other characters don't help Hannah when she reaches out to them, which could discourage viewers from reaching out.

27. Hannah doesn't leave a tape for her parents, and even though the tapes were mostly bad, I still think the show's writers should have included a goodbye to her parents.

28. It simplifies suicide.

29. The show is tactless, in my opinion.

30. I feel like the show writers did not do any research on the topic of suicide or mental illness, and "13 Reasons Why" suffered because of lack of research.

31. I will not be watching season two mostly because I am bitter about the tastelessness.

And I do not want there to be enough views for them to make a season three and impact even more people in a negative way.

If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.
Cover Image Credit: Netflix

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7 Reasons To Get Excited For The Orlando Fringe Festival

Aside from the obvious draw of 100+ shows to choose from, there are so many more reasons to check it out.
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The Orlando Fringe Festival is a two-week performing arts extravaganza featuring all kinds of acts from this city and others. It is also the longest-running theater festival in the United States, so it’s had plenty of time to get great. If you want the basics on how to attend, there is an article in the Orlando Sentinel that breaks it down for first-timers. But as we gear up for what is basically Coachella for theater nerds, here are just a few more things to get jazzed about.

1. You’ll finally be able to support your artist friends.

We all have that friend who is constantly involved in some sort of production. Of course you’d love to go and see them all, but who has the time? At Fringe, there are plenty of chances to see a show, since there are performances at many different times for two weeks. And if you have a lot of friends who are performers in Orlando, then I have good news! They will all be in the same place.

2. Two words: food trucks.

There is pretty much no other time when it is socially acceptable to eat a bunch of fried Oreos than at a carnival or at Fringe. Carnivals seem dangerous though, so you might as well just hang out at Fringe, where it’s safe.

3. There’s something for everyone.

Even if theater isn’t your thing, there are more than just a few alternative options available. You can also find concerts, stand up comedy, storytelling, and a whole lot of things that will make you say, “I didn’t know that was a thing."

4. This year, planning is easy.

In their 27th year, the Orlando Fringe has introduced a new way to plan which shows to see. The Fringe-o-Matic allows you to input the shows you’re interested in and create a personalized schedule so you can make it to (almost) all of them.

5. You’ll never have to travel far.

Most of the shows at Fringe are located in or around Loch Haven Park, and venues include the Orlando Shakespeare Theater, the Orlando Repertory Theatre and the Orlando Museum of Art. These are all within walking distance of each other, and are separated only by a parking lot (which, by the way, is free to use). The only other shows are BYOV, or Bring Your Own Venue, in multiple locations in Orlando.

6. It’s not just local acts.

Maybe if you’re an Orlando native, you’re a little tired of the local scene. This festival includes production companies from lots of other states and countries, so it’s a great opportunity to see fresh faces and shows that are the best of their respective locale.

7. Things will get weird.

Even if you’re a veteran Fringe-goer, you’re definitely in for a quite a few surprises. Last year, I saw a Canadian male burlesque troupe led by a Justin Trudeau impersonator (caution: link NSFW), and it wasn’t even the craziest thing that happened.


The Orlando Fringe Festival runs from May 15th to the 28th, so it’s right around the corner. It’s all happening so fast! But if you’re not hyped yet, maybe you should take a trip to the beer tent.

Cover Image Credit: Orlando Fringe

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