The Princess and the Frog

princess and the frog

The Princess and the Frog
Rating: G
Released: 2009
Run Time: 97 minutes
Directed By: Ron Clements, John Musker

Cultural Rating: pawpaw

This film is notable because it stars the first black Disney princess. However, Tiana is a frog for the majority of the film. Further, the film adheres to many stereotypes regarding race, disability, class, and religion.

Summary

Tiana, an aspiring restaurant owner, turns into a frog to save Prince Naveen from a curse.


Ratings

Language: poo

  • Demeaning language- “little man,” “kill joy,” “stick in the mud,” “shut your trap,” “fat man”
  • Threatening language- threats to beat with a cane

Violence: poopoo

  • Shoving, smashing, fighting
  • Visible blood in an amulet
  • The frogs are chased down by various animals
  • Gun violence
  • Visible weapons- gun, knives, club
  • Fingers get broken
  • Animal traps
  • Skeletons, voodoo dolls with pins, shrunken heads

Sex: poo

  • Sexual innuendo
  • Kissing

Drugs and Alcohol: poo

  • Visible champagne, wine

Cultural Analysis

 Pros:

Gender:

  • Tiana challenges traditional gender roles regarding femininity. For example, Tiana is a hardworking waitress and also aspires to own her own restaurant. In addition, even as a frog, Tiana is active and shows agency as she rows a boat while Prince Naveen passively plays the guitar, teaches Prince Naveen how to cook, and is not impressed by his many attempts to “woo” her. Further, Tiana actively resists princess culture by recognizing the constructed cultural myth of living “happily ever after” with prince charming.
  • Charlotte is a caricature of femininity and princess culture. For example, Charlotte’s appearance is an exaggeration of the classical princess trope as she wears excessively poofy dresses, constantly applies makeup, and wears tiaras. Additionally, Charlotte’s mannerisms are reflective of extreme feminine performance. For example, she pouts, bats her eyes, and gestures delicately with her hands. Further, Charlotte is obsessed with finding her prince charming and is willing to do anything to live happily ever after.
  • Tiana’s father, James, is depicted as caring, encouraging, and kind. James challenges traditional gender roles regarding masculinity as he freely expresses emotion.

Race:

  • This is Disney’s first black princess, and she is depicted in a positive way. For example, she is hard-working, caring, independent, a skilled chef, and is depicted as beautiful.
  • The majority of the characters are of color.

Sexual Orientation: N/A

Disability:

  • Mama Odie, who is blind, is depicted as a good character. For example, she explains that a person’s moral character is more important than how rich they are.

Body:

  • Mama Odie, who is depicted as old and fat-bodied, is a good character.
  • Tiana is depicted as beautiful. This is important because the media tends to promote white beauty as the ideal beauty.
  • Prince Naveen, who is from the fictional country of Maldonia, is racially ambiguous and depicted as handsome. Again, this is important because the media tends to promote white beauty as the ideal beauty.

Cons:

Gender:

  • It seems like Prince Naveen feels entitled in certain situations because of his identity as a prince. For example, he does not understand why Tiana does not respond to his many attempts to “woo” her.
  • When Charlotte is talking to her dad, he shoves food in her mouth to quiet her. This is problematic because silencing is often used as a tactic to intimidate or discourage people from speaking out.
  • Even though Tiana works hard to save up for her own restaurant she still needs help from Prince Naveen to make this dream come true.

Race:

  • Although the film is inclusive in regards to different races and ethnicities, it tends to depict diversity in a stereotypical For example, Dr. Facilier (aka the Shadow Man) is depicted as an evil voodoo witch doctor. This is problematic in two ways: first, voodoo is stereotyped as dark magic rather than a legitimate religion, and second is the exotic Other trope. The exotic Other trope includes a person or group of people who are not a part of the dominant culture and are Othered as a result (in this case, in terms of race and religion). Dr. Facilier’s involvement with voodoo is portrayed as mysterious, uncivilized, and evil.
  • The racially ambiguous Prince Naveen is depicted as hypersexual. For example, he is constantly flirting, wants to trade money for a kiss from Tiana, and says he will give Tiana “just one kiss unless [she] beg[s] for more.” This is a common stereotype of Others.

Sexual Orientation:

Disability:

  • Mama Odie’s blindness is used for comedic purposes. For example, Mama Odie offers dirty candy to Tiana and Prince Naveen and stirs her food with a stick.

Body:

  • The characters that are depicted as desirable all conform to ideal body types.
  • The majority of the fat-bodied characters adhere to stereotypes regarding fat bodies in the media. For example, a fat-bodied male character is depicted as gluttonous and used for comedic relief when he stuffs beignets into his tuxedo. Fat bodies are also depicted as easily manipulated and/or evil. For example, Lawrence is tricked into participating in Dr. Facilier’s evil plan.
  • Facilier is grotesque as he is lanky, has a gap in his teeth, and exposes his belly. This is problematic because aberrant bodies are often signifiers of immoral character in the media.
  • Animals are assigned traditionally feminine characteristics and are sexualized.

Suggested talking points

  • The film reflects the historic class strata of the time period (1920s) when the white population enjoyed a higher degree of affluence in comparison to the black population. The film depicts an element of white privilege in that Charlotte does not have to concern herself with money or have to work to survive.
  • The Prince is called “sleeping beauty” as an insult. Oftentimes in films femininity is used as an insult, especially for male characters.
  • Tiana’s ultimate happiness lies in owning a restaurant of her own. However we find that this happiness is dependent on marrying Prince Naveen. In the end, it is only after she marries Prince Naveen that she opens her dream restaurant.
  • The film challenges the idea that hard work equals success (the American Dream). This is not always the case in society as a person’s social position must be taken into consideration. For example, Tiana worked very hard to save-up for her own restaurant, but she was unable to purchase the building for her restaurant on her own.
  • Many class stereotypes are present in the film. For example, many of the characters that have lower-class signifiers are depicted as inarticulate and are ragged in appearance.

Image: Amazon.com

Keywords: tiana, disney, princess tiana, princess and the frog, animated, animation, family, musical, review, 2 paws, two paws, disability, gender, race, ethnicity

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