Race and Gender in “The Princess and the Frog” (2023)

Gwen Sharp, PhD on August 27, 2009

As you may know, Disney has a movie coming out later this year called “The Princess and the Frog,” a retelling of the story of the princess who kisses a frog that then helpfully turns into a handsome prince for her to marry. The noteworthy aspect of this film, aimed at a mainstream audience, is that the female protagonist is African American. We’ve seen Disney films with non-White protagonists before–“Mulan” and “Pocahontas,” for instance–but to my knowledge there haven’t been any with a Black main character, unless I guess you count the Uncle Remus stuff, and that’s just a whole lot of ick.

While many people have eagerly awaited “The Princess and the Frog,” Disney’s long history of negative or stereotypical portrayals of non-White characters (i.e., “Fantasia“) meant many were concerned about what the final product might be, expressingconcerns based on the trailer and other promotional materials that have emerged so far. Margaret Lyons at EW.com says,

Disney’s track record with racism and racist caricature makes me a little nervous when I see stuff like that toothless firefly.

According to Jezebel, “…Tiana was originally a maid named Maddy (to0 close to mammy?)…” And Leontine says,

…based on this trailer, the other things that Black people get to do are voodoo shit, playing jazz and dancing, and making jokes about their butts. Charming.

For the record, the protagonist is only African American for part of the movie; for a good chunk of it she’s a green frog. But then, doesn’t the princess turn into an ogre in at least some of the “Shrek” movies? I can’t quite recall.

The movie website has a video game. In the game (from io9),

…Tiana, is sent on a mission to retrieve the rich white girl’s tiara, so she can borrow it, but along the way she’s asked to fetch some hot sauce for the gumbo before she has permission to get to the rich girl’s bedroom.

A screenshot of the hot sauce part:

Race and Gender in “The Princess and the Frog” (1)

Rebekah R. pointed out a deck of promotional cards handed out at Comic-Con (also at io9). There are some interesting gender and racial elements. Here are Tiana’s parents; note that her mother is “nurturing” while her father is “inspirational”:

Race and Gender in “The Princess and the Frog” (2)

Dr. Facilier is a “witch doctor,” practices voodoo, and looks a bit like cartoonish images of pimps I’ve seen now and then:

Race and Gender in “The Princess and the Frog” (3)

I did notice that the valet (is that the same as a butler?) for the prince is White rather than Black:

Race and Gender in “The Princess and the Frog” (4)

The text for one of the cards says “It’s not in yo’ cards”:

Race and Gender in “The Princess and the Frog” (5)

Here’s Mama Odie, the godmother figure, is a “seer” with a snake:

Race and Gender in “The Princess and the Frog” (6)

These images and objections are interesting by themselves, but they also bring up some of the difficulties in portraying groups that have historically been stereotyped negatively and occupied a subordinate social status. For instance, the fact that Tiana was originally going to be a maid wouldn’t, on the surface, necessarily be that different from “Cinderella,” in which the (White) protagonist is basically a maid. And there’s nothing wrong with playing jazz or, for that matter, practicing voodoo (which could be seen as very similar to the magic that is so common in kids’ films).

But of course, an image of a Black woman as a maid carries different connotations than that of a White woman doing the same job. There have certainly been large numbers of White maids in the U.S. as well as other countries; in the late 1800s many female Irish immigrants to the U.S. took jobs as domestic servants. But they fairly quickly transitioned, as a group, into other types of work. African American women were stuck with jobs as maids a lot longer because of job discrimination. The “Mammy” figure, a happy-go-lucky servant pleased to take care of the White family she worked for, was applied exclusively to Black women.

Depicting Cinderella as a maid doesn’t play into pre-existing stereotypes of White women; it’s just an individual portrayal. A Black character cast as a maid, to many people, reproduces an image of Black women that goes beyond the individual–whether the creators intend to or not, such images bring with them associations to the Mammy character and real oppression of African American women in a culture that saw them primarily as servants for more privileged groups.

Disney may have intentionally tapped into those cultural images when Tiana was originally imagined as a maid for a White character (as well as including other stereotypical elements). Or the creators may have unthinkingly reproduced stereotypes because, when thinking about characters to use in a movie set in New Orleans with a Black protagonist, they drew on existing cultural imagery. In the absence of a concerted, thoughtful effort to avoid reproducing them, it’s not surprising that problematic elements show up in TV shows, movies, and so on.

Anyway, this should be an interesting situation to watch unfold when the movie is finally released.

UPDATE: Commenter John Lewis says,

This movie’s worth analyzing, but Gwen’s commentary here is not among the most insightful I’ve read on this blog. From my viewing of the trailer, without knowing much else about the film, I think she’s really reaching.

I don’t know that I’m “reaching,” exactly–we know quite a bit of other stuff about the film, such as the fact that Disney originally had Tiana cast as a maid, and that many people who want this to be a good film are very frightened about how it might turn out, which I think is fascinating in and of itself–but he’s right about it not being the best commentary ever. Meh. It’s free content, people, and this is the first week of classes. My brain works better at putting together a coherent argument some days than others. Taking the post down b/c it’s not my best, or b/c people say I’m off-base, seems sort of intellectually dishonest, like I’m trying to hide anything that gets criticized, so I guess I’ll just leave it up and people can read the critical comments.

And in my defense, it also turns out Disney has recut the trailer and some of the scenes that were in it when I first started writing up some commentary aren’t in it any more. I didn’t realize when I found a link to the trailer after the original link disappeared that it had been changed to leave out some things I found odd in the first one.

See also this post that includes a discussion of concerns that the movie “Up” wouldn’t be popular because it had an Asian lead character as well as our post on gender in Pixar films, gender roles in “Bee Movie,”

Gwen Sharp is an associate professor of sociology at Nevada State College. You can follow her on Twitter at @gwensharpnv.

Comments 94

Deaf Indian Muslim Anarchist — August 27, 2009

To answer your inquiry, there have been NO Black Disney princesses. Yes, there were black characters in a few Disney animated features here and there, but nothing too positive. so Tiana will be the FIRST EVER Black Disney princess that little girls (black, white, brown) can look up to...

(Video) The Princess and the Frog: Enforcing a Colorblind Fantasy

anyway, it should be interesting to see what comes out of The Princess and the Frog. I'm not too bothered by those screenshots you posted above. These look very cool & historical without being patronizing or racist.

ibis lynn — August 27, 2009

Oh, Disney. So many childhood memories tainted as soon as I got old enough to think critically about what I was seeing on screen! At 16/17 I started watching Disney movies again (after maybe a decade) because I started babysitting my goddaughter. I had Dumbo on the TV one day, and suddenly I hear the "Song of the Roustabouts" and my jaw dropped! Suffice it to say I never played that video for her again.

Being a musician, Fantasia was probably my favorite Disney movie. The version I saw (when they rereleased it) no longer had the pickaninny character, but I immediately noticed that it *does* have the only identifiably "black" centaurs as zebra-bottomed slavegirls to Dionysus.

I'm not a fan of the Princess genre in general, but I hope, for the sake of all the little black girls that never get to see themselves as the protagonist of a Disney film, that the film isn't super problematic. Sadly, while I think an exploration of the unique culture of African-Americans in NOLA would be interesting, I sincerely doubt Disney will do a very good job of it.

jfruh — August 27, 2009

"Or the creators may have unthinkingly reproduced stereotypes because, when thinking about characters to use in a movie set in New Orleans with a Black protagonist, they drew on existing cultural imagery."

This question is honestly not meant to be tendentious, but a genuine call for good-natured discussion: how do you draw the line between "drawing on existing cultural imagery" and "drawing on historical reality, no matter how unfortunate"? By which I mean: for much of the late 19th and 20th centuries, especially in the south, one of the most common economic niches for young African-American women was to serve as maids, because of the legacy of slavery and contemporary racist attitudes. Of course one doesn't want to perpetuate the stereotype of the cheerful black maid who loves nothing better than tending to her employer at the expense of her own individuality; but is depicting a black teenager as a maid, in a story set in a time and place where black teenagers were quite likely to be maids and maids were quite likely to be black teenager, always off limits? How can stories in that time and place be told both accurately and without glossing over the inequalities of the time?

jfruh — August 27, 2009

On the note of black vs. white servants, I think the region of the U.S. was important to that question. I just finished reading an FDR biography which had one anecdote that really stuck with me. When the Roosevelts moved from New York to Washington, they, as was the custom at the time for the wealthy political class, brought their personal servants -- who were white -- with them from New York to work in the White House. This apparently made the Washington establishment very uncomfortable, Washington being considered a thoroughly southern city; eventually, Eleanor was told in no uncertain terms that she had to hire black servants, because having white servants would undermine the racial heirarchy. (The fact that this was considered Eleanor's problem to deal with is interesting in and of itself.)

Amelia — August 27, 2009

There are so many problematic gender issues wrapped up in Disney Princess-dom to begin with, although I've enjoyed many of the movies. But let's assume that Disney wants to make a princess-y fairy tale (i.e. not a modern-day story like Lilo & Stitch) that features a black protagonist. I'm having trouble imagining a storyline that wouldn't in some way raise red flags for social critics.

Including elements derived from the cultural experiences of POCs certainly leaves Disney open for criticism, and if the movie resorts to stereotyping then it deserves critique. But if handled well, I think it'll be a far better contribution than if they'd merely pasted darker skin tones into one of the boring princess-in-a-vaguely-European-castle stories with no additional cultural context.

anonymous — August 27, 2009

I would have to agree with you. There really aren't many black protagonists in t.v shows and movies of today. I have never seen The Princess and the Frog, but when I saw previews of this movie on t.v. my reaction was like "oh I have never seen a african american princess in a disney movie before; this movie seems like it would be great to watch."

In most Disney movies I have seen, there are many types of ethnic groups that have not yet come to stand out in Disney. Like Latina princesses. There may be up one or two out there, but in my life I have not come across one yet.

Most kids, when they grow up, tend to find out all the hidden messages Disney puts into their films. Like songs they use "savages" from the movie "Pocahontas" or some sexual refrences that people have claimed to see in the Disney movies. The song "Savages" are used from both sides of the story. The word is rude, mean and shouldnt be used in a movie that has young kids watching it.

I say that it is good that they have a Black Princess in this new film. There should be more of these to come.

jfruh — August 27, 2009

Also, it's kind of funny that the preview begins with a blurb about 75 years of Disney tradition and only shows clips of the movies the company made in the 90s.

Ben Zvan — August 27, 2009

Does Aladdin count as black?

Kelle — August 27, 2009

The Dr Facilier character looks more like a Baron Samedi-inspired aesthetic than a pimp, to me.

Alyssa — August 27, 2009

"For the record, the protagonist is only African American for part of the movie; for a good chunk of it she’s a green frog. But then, doesn’t the princess turn into an ogre in at least some of the “Shrek” movies? I can’t quite recall."

The problem isn't that there isn't a white equivalent (BTW Fiona turns into a ogre during the night and does spend the majority of the movie as a human). The problem is that there isn't enough princesses of color in the first place. It's not a big deal that Fiona from Shrek spends a small part of the movie as an ogre when there are plenty of other white princesses that do/are other things. The fact is since Tiana is the only black Disney princess, she is representing the whole by herself. In other words, 100% of Disney black princesses are maids, and spend the movie as a green frog. You see it wouldn't be so problematic if there were other black Disney characters that were portrayed in a good light. But as we have it now, all but one of the black Disney characters are villains, servants, or any other stereotype. Now that we finally have our one black princess, it's dissapointing because it seems they still haven't managed to break those stereotypes; plus it seems they will be hiding her ethnicity behind the exterior of a green frog for the majority of the movie.
I think the question we need to be asking isn't if this role would be offensive if we switched her out with a white person; rather the question is why can't we find black Disney characters in this genre that aren't stereotypes?

Ben Zvan — August 27, 2009

Wasn't Jasmine a black Disney princess? That would make 50% maids. Still a definite downturn.

Cactus Wren — August 27, 2009

I can't believe that as late as 2009 they're going with the creaky old "blind seer" trope. And a SEEING EYE SNAKE? I rather hope The Seeing Eye, Inc., who own the trademark for the term "Seeing Eye Dog", go after this.

heather leila — August 27, 2009

I think the witch doctor character is problematic. Voodoo is too often associated with black magic and evil, when in Haiti and in New Orleans (and elsewhere by other names) it is a legitimate religion and a strong part of many people's spiritual lives - and not as a way to do others harm. It seems like the godmother figure might be balancing out the presentation (she seems like a benevolent figure) but still, there is a pervasive view that Voodoo is evil and here we have the villain of the story as a practitioner.

(Video) Why The Princess and the Frog Failed

(It's really cool to see New Orleans in a cartoon though - to see the streecar I ride everyday make an appearance!)

John Lewis — August 28, 2009

This movie's worth analyzing, but Gwen's commentary here is not among the most insightful I've read on this blog. From my viewing of the trailer, without knowing much else about the film, I think she's really reaching.

LGreenberg — August 28, 2009

Did I really say "voodoo shit"? Classy.

MeToo — August 28, 2009

I think it's super-important for Disney to be aware of the impact that their representations have upon people of colour. In my hometown, nearly every little aboriginal girl was decked out for school in a Pocahontas backpack, etc. for years after the movie came out.

Theora — August 28, 2009

The blind seer Mama Odie reminds me of Minerva (played by Irma P. Hall) from "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil". I think it's her glasses...

Jen — August 29, 2009

I think there's a lot of reaching here.

We've never had a black Disney princess before. Now we do. Does the story tap into "black" stereotypes? Kinda. The setting is New Orleans, if I'm not mistaken, and yes, black people live in New Orleans. The people of New Orleans have a certain culture---jazz music and the practice of voodoo being part of it. If they had a movie set in New Orleans that -didn't- have jazz music, people would get upset because a big part of the culture is being ignored. If it was a white girl instead of the black girl, people would be complaining that it's another white princess story, and that there's a -white- princess in a setting that is filled with black characters. If there were no black people at all, there would be complaints.

I've noticed from reading this site that the race topics tend to turn into a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" sort of situation, especially here. I realize that, as sociologists, the writers of this blog are -supposed- to pick things apart, but it gets to the point where it seems like nothing will make people happy. If there's a black person anywhere, they get upset about any little perceived stereotype. If there aren't any black people (or other people of color), they get upset because the minority isn't being represented.

I'm not saying that there isn't plenty of legitimate racism in the media. There absolutely is. But I feel like the opposing side is getting to the point where it's -too- touchy.

Personally, I'm looking forward to this movie. As someone above me said, yes, the villain character seems to be practicing voodoo, but the fairy godmother character seems to be a voodoo practitioner herself, and because of that I'm hoping that the use of voodoo to hurt others will be condemned by the benign magic user. So I'm not that worried. I like Tiana, and I like the New Orleans setting. And I'm really excited to see Disney doing traditional animation again.

Kait — August 29, 2009

This seems to be one of those "damned if you do, damned if you don't" scenarios where no one can win. If Disney came out with a new animated film with a white princess protagonist, the complaint would be that she's white. Now Disney comes along with its first black female protagonist, once who is recognized as a -princess- (which has me scratching my head; is she really a princess? In New Orleans? What?). A frequent complaint on Sociological Images is this cultural idea that we cannot have a black protagonist: they are cast as the sidekicks, the villains, the sassy friends, et cetera. Suddenly Disney, of all companies, gives us a black protagonist. That in and of itself is admirable even if certain points may be flawed.

This new movie not only gives us a black protagonist, it also seems to give us a black-centric cast, which on one hand makes me roll my eyes and think they go the Tyler Perry route of "black people can only star in movies about black people and black things" ... but on the other hand makes me feel like Disney is making an honest effort to show another race and culture other than White European. They did this with Pocahontas and Mulan with mixed results----different cultures in Disney films are often shown as "old-fashioned" and somehow oppressing the protagonist, regardless of historical accuracy, but in the cases of the above two films they're telling stories of women who defied the accepted norm, so it has to be that way. I won't know for sure until I see the film, but this doesn't seem to be about culture-clash at all----rather, I see a celebration of New Orleans history and culture, Disney-fied.

Disney has a long, long history of racism. Let's remind ourselves that this was culturally acceptable at the times when it was most blatant, and Disney was not the only company to use negative racial stereotypes----they were following their own cultural norm. With that in mind, of course they're not going to hit every note right. People are still going to scream and yell and say it's playing on stereotypes and is racist in one way or another.

To avoid playing on racial stereotypes is one thing, but there's a point where you can run to the other end of the spectrum, which is -also- noted frequently on this blog: the absence of all cultural/ethnic difference to make all characters seem "white" and therefore some kind of "neutral."

Kait — August 29, 2009

... Hah. My girlfriend is Jen and we were just having a discussion about this when we commented at the same time. Did not mean to tag-team with some of the same phrases there! :)

LGreenberg — August 29, 2009

I just realized this isn't the trailer I was talking about...no big butt jokes. I'm happy to say. But I'm not sure what happened. Did Disney recut the trailer, or was I imagining things?

Brandy — October 26, 2009

I was hoping that the Princess and the Frog, being set in New Orleans, would draw more on the unique cultural experiences that region enjoyed, specifically, the there were free, financially independent people of African-American descent.
But I think they're setting this "fairy-tale" to far forward in time to hit that particular time-span.

I'm more concerned with how voodoo, more appropriately called Vodun, will be portrayed. Voodoo practices are a perfectly valid form of worship, and I'm concerned at Disney's track record with religions (Hunchback and Satanic imagery, anyone?).

KB — October 27, 2009

When it comes to animation, including animated film, I recommend the works of Will Eisner (no relation to Michael) in particular his book Visual Storytelling and Graphic Narrative. Animation is limited in its means of depicting reality, and it must rely on certain levels of abstraction. One of those is the stereotypical image. This is not a derogatory term in animation. It is simply a means of communicating a fuller idea through a simpler form of description. In its crassest forms, yes, it can be ugly, derogatory and improper. In others, it's simply shorthand to fill in details where there is little time or opportunity. For example, its easier to depict a person as evil by making them have a mean looking face, or as slow by making them appear fat. These depictions still must be held up by further details in the story, but it's a useful tool none the less.

This article is a demonstration of why a modern Disney animated film dealing with African Americans in a positive light is a difficult thing. There are very few ways to do it "right" but hundreds of ways to be perceived as doing it "wrong." Oh no! A southern black woman suggested using hot sauce! How is that bad exactly?

The greater problem then is not Disney's portrayal, it's the public insistence that it undergo a heightened scrutiny even before the film has been seen. Which leads to the ultimate issue. If Disney makes a sincere effort here, but is deemed as failing, what is the incentive to try to reach out to black audiences again?

Let's wait until the film is out before we determine if there are any high crimes, but we might be well advised to not attack all perceived misdemeanors.

lizzy — October 27, 2009

I wonder why Tiena being now a chef is offensive?
And Selina Gomez dress like a maid in a disney video is not offensive for Latinos?

(Video) The Princess and The Frog- Meet Ray (HD)

This is a double standard.
I mean Jennifer Lopez maid in manhattan was offensive for all latinos not only the ones who leave un USA but for latinos in all the continent.

CB — October 27, 2009

I think a lot of the stereotypical motifs that you're talking about are tied more to the film's region -- that is to say, New Orleans, the Bayou, the South, etc. than it has to do with race itself. Of course race is part and parcel of that particular region, but things like voodoo, the fly that people seem to be taking so much objection to (who isn't necessarily black, and is in fact, most likely not a black stereotype, but a Cajun one -- which may be just as bad), the hot sauce and gumbo aspect of the video game, and even the idea of imagining the main character as a maid originally. The thing is, Disney seems to be trying to stretch itself creatively by not only showing us a princess we've never seen before, but also a place and a time that they've never explored. 1930's Southern America is a fine place to explore all of those things, and I'm sure that when you see the film you'll find you have plenty to object to by virtue of all the racial problems that they will inevitably have to gloss over. And in 1930's Southern America, there were more black people than anywhere else in the country, and one of the commonest jobs for black people at that time was in the service industry.

Tiana is now very clearly a waitress, working hard and pinching pennies in order to one day own her own restaurant and become a top chef. Not just a cook or something like that, but a top chef. In New Orleans. Which, I'm pretty sure, is one of the most renowned centers for cuisine in America. Which would make her goal to become a great professional in her field by diligence, hard work, and prudence. Sounds like a pretty great role model for any young girl, whether she be black, white, yellow, red, orange, green, purple, or any other shade of the rainbow.

Something perhaps more interesting to note about this particular movie is that the Prince character is also non-white, but not African American, or for that matter, American at all. He is from a nonexistent European country and speaks with a heavy accent (that is, before he turns into a frog).As more information becomes available, I think you should be more considerate of the creative process that goes into making a film like this. Ideas will change, and to jump on the hot button of race and make a sensitive subject out of something that doesn't necessarily have to be one inhibits the creative reign of the Disney filmmakers, which will ultimately propagate more stereotypes and unhelpful representations of Disney characters of various non-white races.

CB — October 27, 2009

Also, why on earth are you offended by "nurturing mother and inspirational father"? The mother is nurturing, all good mothers are, and the father is inspirational because he dies when Tiana is young after inspiring her dream of owning a restaurant.

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MS — October 29, 2009

I believe the manner in which promotional items are packaged and distributed also play an important role regarding "integration" and "segregation". The Disney company has already distributed dozens of items that have either a single princess, three princesses, or six princesses. Now, with the addition of Tiana, Disney is marketing a series of items that only focus on her. My concern is that she is separated and not included with the others. But I wasn't the one who noticed it. It was my 3 1/2 year old daughter. We were in a bookstore that displayed 2010 calendars. On the shelf sat the new Tiana calendar. Next to it was a calendar with the other six. The calendars, of course, we at the three foot level so my daughter could see them. See went to the calendar with the six princesses. I went to Tiana and showed my daughter the new princess. My daughter's response: "No, she is not a princess. See, here are the princesses."

lpadua — November 11, 2009

The movie takes place in New Orleans where the culture is rich and people talk a little different! I like it and think we should stop looking too far into something that is just not there! Find something else to be angry about like world hunger!!!!

slask — November 14, 2009

Christ...So by the logic of 'gwen' you can't even portray black people as maids, heroes, villians, stereotype them or anything in a movie, especially not a family movie ala Dizney? Get over yourself. Dizney stereotyped rich old women, witches, stupid sidekicks, greedy eastern people etc. in all their movies. That Fantasia had some elements of racism in it is to be expected. Racism was quite common when it was released and not frowned upon as it is today. You can't hold that against them. Pfee, I'm starting to sound like a Dizney drone so gonna stop here. Anyway, I think gwen is to stuck in his/hers own mindset and preconcived notions to see otherwise and the lot of you supporting this view is just as bad.

Jen — November 25, 2009

Gwen, (and many others here) great points. I personally think this film is going to be chock full of sterotypes from the clips I have already seen. I wonder why the setting couldn't be in "a land far away" or some fictional place. New Orleans? Come on... The hot sauce reference when Tiana made gumbo for her father... come on. Why don't they just add the fried chicken & watermelon?? Why does the prince have to be non-black? Why do the characters have to talk with a "black" dialect? I'm not saying they have to sound like sunshine Susie, but give me some middle ground here... geez. I'm sure my list of sterotypes will grow once I've seen it in it's entirety.

I also love the general concensus among whites (and some dumb people of color): "You damn blacks got your cartoon with you in it, so stop complaining! Be happy for what you get! Stop playing the race card!" LOL

Sarah — December 12, 2009

I saw the film last night. I have to say, I was concerned from the previews as well - but I think that Disney did an excellent job here, especially with their first black princess.
To address things point by point:

- The hot sauce thing: I've never heard of liking hot sauce as being a black stereotype. Spicy sauces and peppers are integral to New Orleans cuisine, and the idea is that Tiana is a New Orleans girl through-and-through... which means enjoying the spicy food, and using spices heavily to augment her cooking.

- The voodoo thing: I already said this above somewhere, but I'll say it again - the film addresses both the dark side and the light side of Voodoo, both of which exist, as in any magic/k based religion. It's a lot like Buffy - in which witches were presented as being capable of good and capable of bad.

- The toothless firefly is a representation of a Cajun stereotype. What I loved about this is that the Cajun stereotype is presented (probably because people would not recognize a "subtle" Cajun, unfortunately) not as a backwoods hick, but as a strong, smart, resourceful character who fights off some serious bad guys on his own and is an extremely helpful guide - who just so happens to be missing teeth.

- This film appears to take place in the forties-ish - when racism was still extremely prevalent in society - and the racism is actually *really well* addressed. ***SPOILERISH*** Tiana tries to buy some property, but is turned down because a woman "of her background" should, essentially, remember her place. She gets upset at this and later those racist characters get a mild comeuppance (mild because it's Disney, so, you know.). ***SPOILERISH OVER***

- The parental race/gender roles: When I watched the movie, both parents seemed equally nurturing and inspirational, but I suspect that they get those labels because the mother is alive throughout the whole film - so she remains a nurturing force, while the father serves as an inspiring memory. I don't see anything particularly sexist or racist about this

- "It's not in yo' cards": the "yo'" is addressing a Louisiana (New Orleans? Is it a particular accent in that area?) accent. All of the characters, with the exception of the prince and the valet, have the accent, regardless of race.

- The big butt: I was pretty weirded out by that scene when I initially saw it in trailers, too, but in context it makes sense and isn't racist at all. ***SPOILER*** The valet acquires a spell that transforms him into the prince. The spell starts to wear off, and the valet (who has a substantial rear end) starts to make a reappearance - starting first with an ear, and then with the butt. It's pretty much just a comical "Look, his butt suddenly got really big!" shot. ***SPOILER OVER***

- The "initially a maid" thing is not too dissimilar to the being a waitress thing - she could still be seen as stuck in a lower-class job, serving white people (also black people, but if we're focusing on the racist part). I think that the point is, she's starting from a super-downtrodden position, and trying to achieve a lofty dream. One could easily say that portraying a black person in a lower class position is racist - but it's integral to the typical Disney story, of rising from the lowest possible point a la Aladdin to the highest possible point.

- "Black people playing jazz and dancing": the Jazz and dancing is, again, being portrayed as an integral part of New Orleans culture, not an integral part of being a black person. There are a lot of black characters, because (a)the main character is black and she has both black and white friends and family; and (b) there is a high concentration of black people in New Orleans - to paint New Orleans as being largely white would be pretty insensitive and would get a ton of criticism from the public.

Infoperson9000 — January 5, 2010


I found the original trailer, I believe.

Gavin — January 15, 2010

Is there anyting to be said about the stereotype of the libidinous french 'frog' character? I thought that was the most blatant stereotype, however, whether or not this is offensive to French brings up further issues of white privilege. I do think it is an interesting comparison seeing as we are talking about cultural stereotypes as well as issues of race.

jasmine — June 13, 2010

I love the princess and the frog!

(Video) Princess & The Frog - SNL
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[...] couple will allow little girls to be open-minded when it comes to love. It sends the message that race is not an issue and not something to be inhibited by. Disney is sending a positive message to not [...]

Gerpderp — November 5, 2011

This one film was more racist than all the other Disney movies combined. "Inspirational," hard-working, cooking, magical black people with all the earthy, down-home answers to everything. "Pompous" (you somehow missed that descriptor in the deck of cards), rich, Colonel Sanders-style, spoiled, stupid white people who are too dumb to take care of themselves and too rich and stupid to realize how their position effects others. There was no in between, there were no characters at all- just die-cut stereotypes.

Shootingmonkey — January 5, 2012

Maybe it's just me, but the accents from the characters weren't actually Louisiananian accents. That fly didn't have a Cajun accent. He clearly had a fake one because his words weren't slurred enough in a rough manner. New Orleans is a Creole area, not a Cajun area so that's a historical inaccuracy but that's not really that important compared to other inaccurate historical issues that Disney has created. It's actually a Cajun stereotype that they ride around in boats in the bayou, know how to deal with alligators, and have bad hygiene because they're stupid. It's a secret thing that Cajuns are modest and don't appear much but are actually smart and resourceful. We've learned to be modest overtime so people would live us alone and let us go about our business, but anyway. Most people don't believe that so Disney did do some good in that movie.

Tddeyne — April 28, 2012

my daughter just turned 5. i made a reservation to take her to disney for her princess make over. they dont have any princess tiana dresses, and no provision for tiana. this floored me as the movie has been out for 3 yrs now..so i bought her a dress, im taking her to disney anyway and they;re gonna figure out how to make my beautiful little girl a tiana princess. changes need to be made, just sayin

guest — May 25, 2012

Reaching...Reaching. Find something that matters to complain about. Kids movies are the only thing redeeming about America

Amber — November 9, 2012

It just seems that Sarah is way off base with the reality of society. I find it amazing that you Sarah and white people as a whole can see the truth and make it appear in a way better suited and pleasing to you. I am boggled by how you can make voodoo, toothlessness, the big butt, being a maid etc, small matters of the film that simply add entertainment. How is it that you find qualities that represent African Americans, so well, amusing? The African American community does not find humor in it nor do they like being considered a joke. When "White America" gets the desperately needed dose of reality, they will understand and maybe better relate. Is it that you feel the African American community should shut up and just be glad that they finally got a character on the big screen? Sarah, get over yourself. You and the rest of CLUELESS WHITE AMERICA!!! oh and btw... the term "yo" is commomly used as jargon throughout the black community.... Goodluck on finding a clue

Disney’s Not-So-Brave Makeover — May 14, 2013

[...] step closer to a fat, queer, disabled princess—orat least aBlack princess devoid of racialstereotyping? Maybe. When you wish upon a [...]

Disney’s Not-So-Brave Makeover | YWCA USA Blog — May 17, 2013

[...] step closer to a fat, queer, disabled princess—oratleastaBlack princess devoid of racialstereotyping? Maybe.When you wish upon a [...]

Disney’s Not-So-Brave Makeover | Jackson-Xefohiye-Mike-Carr Qosepeyi Case-Bloodworth — May 19, 2013

[...] step closer to a fat, queer, disabled princess—orat least aBlack princess devoid of racialstereotyping? Maybe. When you wish upon a star…Image courtesy of Huffington Post This entry was posted in [...]

Disney’s Not-So-Brave Makeover | Bloodworth Yilawulemu-Jackson Galupexu Case-Bloodworth — May 19, 2013

[...] step closer to a fat, queer, disabled princess—orat least aBlack princess devoid of racialstereotyping? Maybe. When you wish upon a star…Image courtesy of Huffington Post This entry was posted in [...]

Disney’s Not-So-Brave Makeover | Carbondale-Xonoxe S-I-U-University-Niqabidako Ritta-Cheng — May 20, 2013

[...] step closer to a fat, queer, disabled princess—orat least aBlack princess devoid of racialstereotyping? Maybe. When you wish upon a star…Image courtesy of Huffington Post This entry was posted in [...]

Disney’s Not-So-Brave Makeover | Ritta-Cheng Cozisomu Jackson Diga District — May 20, 2013

[...] step closer to a fat, queer, disabled princess—orat least aBlack princess devoid of racialstereotyping? Maybe. When you wish upon a star…Image courtesy of Huffington Post This entry was posted in [...]

The Princess and the Frog (What did Jacki K Watch Day 27) | Reel Thoughts of Jacki K, Jacki Krumnow, Jacqueline Krumnow — August 5, 2013

[...] time I refused to watch it because I was under the biased assumption that it looked extremely racist. But then tumblr got to me, and I kept seeing posts that were incredibly too cute to pass [...]

Tiana — May 11, 2014

From DisneyWiki on searching The Fenner Brothers :

Tiana — May 11, 2014

However it's unlikely as it is that someone would bid on the mill after twenty years of it being untouched in the same week Tiana placed her bid, the Fenner brothers probably made that up to prevent having to sell the mill to a woman of colour.

Disney Animated Movies passing the Bechdel Test to shift away from Emphasized Femininity – Disney Animated Movies passing the Bechdel Test to shift away from Emphasized Femininity — November 18, 2020

[…] Pages, T. (n.d.). Race and Gender in “The Princess and the Frog” – Sociological Images. Retrieved November 19, 2020, from https://thesocietypages.org/socimages/2009/08/27/race-and-gender-in-the-princess-and-the-frog/ […]

Disney Animated Movies passing the Bechdel Test to shift away from Emphasized Femininity – RTF Gender and Media Culture — November 18, 2020

[…] Pages, T. (n.d.). Race and Gender in “The Princess and the Frog” – Sociological Images. Retrieved November 19, 2020, fromhttps://thesocietypages.org/socimages/2009/08/27/race-and-gender-in-the-princess-and-the-frog/ […]

from what i saw it supposed to test out the new indian currency - Saw Tool — February 15, 2022

[…] Race and Gender in “The Princess and the Frog … […]

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What race is Tiana from Princess and the Frog? ›

The fact that Tiana is African American was "never a big issue" for Henn when it came to animating her, but drawing her as both a human and a frog proved difficult. He said, "Tiana appears in the movie in so many different forms … she's a little girl, she's an adult human, and then she's a frog".

What race is Prince Naveen? ›

Naveen is an Indian name (meaning "new"), which suggests that Maldonia is a Eurasian country (the name of Maldonia is a mix between Maldives and Macedonia), although his fluency in English, French and Italian might also indicate that Maldonia is a Mediterranean country, possibly near Monaco.

How is Tiana a feminist? ›

I would also claim Tiana could be considered a feminist Disney princess. She is incredibly independent and hardworking, working two jobs at two different local diners to earn enough money to open her own restaurant. Tiana doesn't ask anyone for anything and simply works hard towards her goal.

What is the message in Princess and the Frog? ›

The globally popular story of the 'Princess and the Frog' is a fairy tale that carries a wonderful moral. The moral is to accept everyone regardless of their looks!

What race is Princess Aurora? ›

Princess Aurora, a very minor fictional Egyptian princess who is mentioned in Jackie Chan Adventures.

What race is Princess Jasmine? ›

While some claim Jasmine is Arab because the movie opens with a song called Arabian Nights, others believe that the architecture in Agrabah is clearly based on the Taj Mahal, making Jasmine Indian.

Why is Prince Naveen black? ›

His skin is brown, but he isn't African-American. "A lot of moms had issues with that," Coleman said. "It felt like it was a slap in the face to black men." Coleman asked a Disney executive if Prince Naveen was Creole and was told that his background was made up; he's whatever ethnicity they have in fictional Maldonia.

Is Tiana a black princess? ›

After making history as the first Black Disney princess in an animated movie, Tiana will be honored with a new “The Princess and the Frog” inspired-attraction that's coming to Disney World and Disneyland Resort.

Is Princess Tiana Hispanic? ›

The ninth Disney princess and the first of African-American heritage, Tiana dreams of opening her own restaurant, but an adventure in the New Orleans bayou awaits.

How would you describe Tiana? ›

Tiana is an intelligent, resourceful, and highly talented young woman. However, at the start of the film, and mostly throughout, she can be overly uptight and far too absorbed in work ethics to focus on relaxing, family, and friends.

Who was the first feminist Disney Princess? ›

How Belle from 'Beauty and the Beast' Became Disney's First Feminist Princess. Screenwriter Linda Woolverton opens up about her timeless creation. Disney released the first trailer for its remake of Beauty and the Beast (starring Emma Watson as Belle) yesterday and it already looks enchanting.

What is the moral of the frog story? ›

The Frog Prince moral of the story is that you should never judge someone at first glance, instead try to understand the situation and act accordingly.

What is the main conflict in princess and the frog? ›

The main conflict in the story comes from the Princess refusing to keep a promise that she makes to the Frog. The story explores themes of selfishness, friendship, and loyalty. to be the Frog's friend, but once she gets her golden ball back she runs away back to the castle leaving the Frog behind.

What is the moral of the real princess? ›

Moral of The Princess and The Pea Story

However, a regular-looking girl in rain-soaked shabby clouds turned out to be a real princess. This story beautifully tells us why we should never judge a person on their appearance, as appearances can be often deceptive.

Who was the first black princess? ›

After making history as the first Black Disney princess in an animated movie, Tiana will be honored with a new “The Princess and the Frog” inspired-attraction that's coming to Disney World and Disneyland Resort.

Is Prince Naveen black? ›

His skin is brown, but he isn't African-American. "A lot of moms had issues with that," Coleman said. "It felt like it was a slap in the face to black men." Coleman asked a Disney executive if Prince Naveen was Creole and was told that his background was made up; he's whatever ethnicity they have in fictional Maldonia.

Is Princess Tiana Creole? ›

Tiana is based off of real-life chef Leah Chase.

Initially, Tiana was supposed to be a chambermaid in NOLA. However, the Black community pushed back against that ridiculous suggestion. Instead, Disney modeled Tiana after, the Queen of Creole Cuisine, Leah Chase.


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