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Disney's "The Princess and the Frog" Actually Contains a Powerful Message About Post-Katrina New Orleans

The film, which features Disney's first African-American princess, supplies admirable political allegory.
 
 
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Disney's The Princess and the Frog opened last week. It showcased Disney's first African American princess, prompted significant merchandise sales, and provoked racial and feminist criticism.

As the mother of a 7-year-old daughter, I knew I'd have to see the film. I went to the theater prepared to deconstruct troubling racial images, which Disney has a history of producing, and distorted notions of womanhood, which Disney makes its fortune creating. But I was mostly delighted by the music, characters, and plot. I found neither race nor gender the driving concerns of this animated film.

I read The Princess and the Frog as a forceful and insightful allegory about the restoration of New Orleans.

Like many children's stories, this one is a morality tale. Parents read to our kids not only to encourage their literacy, but also to impart lessons about our shared cultural and social values: kindness, honesty, courage, thrift, hard work, normative heterosexual relationships that result in lifelong, happy, state-sanctioned marriage. The basics.

This particular morality tale conveys lessons about the city where it is set: New Orleans.

The Princess is Tiana. She grows up in a shotgun house, in a tight-knit, black community, the child of laboring parents. Together they dream of owning a restaurant. Tiana works night and day toward this goal.

 
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