Disney’s Black Princess: Maids, Maddy, Voodoo & New Orleans
Last year, the Walt Disney Co. began production on an animated fairy tale, The Frog Princess, set for 2009, featuring Disney’s first black princess. Fastforward a year later and the original concept has been criticized for its reinforcement of racial prejudice and stereotypes, according to the U.K.’s Telegraph.
Originally, the film’s heroine was to be a chambermaid named Maddy (ahem, “mammy”?!) working for a spoilt white debutante in 1920s New Orleans. Maddy was supposed to be helped by a voodoo priestess fairy godmother to win the heart of a white prince, after he rescued her from a voodoo magician.
As a result of its damaging and demeaning racial tones, the groundbreaking film’s title has been changed to The Princess and The Frog, with the princess being renamed Tiana.
“It’s disappointing,” Rodney Hinds, features editor of The Voice newspaper, said. “Some of the stereotyping of people from our community is still rigid in people’s minds. We have our own dreams and stories like everyone else, and we want them to be portrayed positively.”
A spokesman for Disney said: “The story takes place in the charming elegance and grandeur of New Orleans’ fabled French Quarter during the Jazz Age… Princess Tiana will be a heroine in the great tradition of Disney’s rich animated fairy tale legacy, and all other characters and aspects of the story will be treated with the greatest respect and sensitivity.”