Sunday, February 05, 2017


Back in July, I visited the nieces and neffy in Michigan to help them move into their new house.  We took the kids out to see Finding Dory. (Who knew at the time that the new President would later screen it at the White House?)

Nothing beats Finding Nemo, but Finding Dory was cute. There's a new cast of characters, including a hilarious escaping octopus. I like the fact that Dory's parents and friends support her in living her reality with short-term memory loss.
In another ocean-related adventure, over Thanksgiving I took the same nieces and nephew* to see Moana. We were excited to see it because yes, a Disney "princess" movie finally highlighted a South Pacific culture, but also because their cousins in New Zealand (where the film didn't open until Boxing Day) are part Islander.

Representation matters. And I loved Moana.  I loved it despite the very legitimate controversies about Disney telling peoples' stories, an annoying crab character, a Maui demi-god that was basically a reworked Hercules (see: colonialism and previously mentioned issues with Disney storytelling), and a vague blending of all South Pacific cultures into one (Tokelauan, Tongan, Samoan, Maori) that a Western audience wouldn't truly understand. And though I love Lin-Manuel Miranda, I'm not entirely sure his lyrics and singing style were the perfect fit for Moana.

But I loved it for my half-Samoan Kiwi nieces with part-Maori cousins. Brave was great: they are part Scottish too and come from many traditions of strong women. But Merida didn't look like them; Moana does. Frozen was great: they dressed up and did their hair like Anna and Elsa and dreamed of snow and ice. But Arendelle's Scandinavian balls bear little resemblance to the Island dances and hakas they are learning and performing in their mixed suburban community.

I am, however, preparing myself for endless Skype sessions filled with "How Far I'll Go" renditions.

* the Latino/Filipino/German/Scottish ones