Zoe and Lia’s Reaction to Disney’s Moana

Sunday, March 12th 2017

We Finally Saw Disney’s Moana!

I thought having my mom stay with me during my husbands deployment would be exactly what me and my blog needed. In truth having my mom here has helped more ways than I can ever express in words. My mom has been the extra set of eyes and ears that all parents around the globe would kill to have. She’s manage to stop Zoe from breaking into my library multiple times. Actually mom had the patience to teach her how to turn pages of boo properly. That’s right librarians of the world have no fear my daughter officially knows how to turn the pages of the book without making you cry that single heartbreaking tear when you sorrowful sound of a page being ripped mid-page-turn. My daughter and I are still in love with Locus Films Strange Magic. I’m actually watching the movie while writing this post, I’m starting to think my best friend is right, this movie is not just a movie anymore it’s practically a lifestyle. I think I have movie withdrawal if I don’t want the movie for a while. Seriously can you love a movie so much hat you get physical withdrawals from not watching it. My daughter and I might have that love withdrawal when were not watching the movie. We use to watch it every night before bed, sine my mom has been with us I tried to temper how many times we watch it but we can’t. We love Strange Magic so very much. I really wish they had a picture book so I could read her the stories instead of always watching the movie. That might have to be my next art project is to draw Strange Magic as a picture book just for my daughters entertainment. Speaking of good movies and entertainment, my mom, daughter and I just finished spending exactly three days watching Disney’s Moana back to back!

Thanks to Direct TV same day DVD release day rental, I was able to watch Moana from the comfort of my home, which is amazing considering the we were hit with a blizzard.

Disney Moana is adorable. I’ll be honest when I saw the movie had Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson I didn’t even bother to see it in theaters. I’m not a big fan of “The Rock” and even less of a fan of spending money to see another one of his 2016 movies. I know many Disney fans were excited to see Moana, especially since the movie Moana adds another diverse movie to the long list of Disney European princess and prince. The reason why I didn’t see it in theaters was mainly do to Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, my body reacts to him the same way it reacts to Kevin Hart, I turn my head. I know Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart have huge super fans, but it’s because of their huge super fans and multiple project that makes me take me time in watching anything they part take in. Do I regret not seeing Moana in theaters? Absolutely not! I’m so glad that I rented before I bought the movie! The movie had so many wonderful songs, comedic moments that I would have probably missed if I saw it in theater.

The best part of watching Moana at home was the ability to see our daughters reaction to realizing that Moana was not in fact another European princess movie.The moment my daughter saw Moana’s brown skin and long curly hair she reached for her own, turned to me and said WOW. Now, let’s be clear my daughter and I are no were near related to any of the Polynesian Islands, but she doesn’t know that. The only thing my daughter sees when she watches Moana, is the fact there are characters that look similar to her. Honestly, I feel Moana is probably the best Disney film because of it’s representation of a non European princess. After reading a Smithsonian article entitled “How the Story ‘Moana’ and Maui Holds up Against Cultural Truths” written by Doug Herman, expresses how Disney film actually disappointed many Polynesians.

Disney’s Moana, pronounced “moh-AH-nah” not pronounced “Moe-Anna” means “ocean”, and is chosen by the ocean to return the heart of Te Fiti in order to save the island deity as well as her people. The island of Te Fiti is not Hawaii, as many fans of Moana would believe. The heart of Te Fiti is actually a greenstone amulet that was stolen by the bold demigod Maui, voiced by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.  While Moana voiced by Auli’i Cravalho, have to race across the sea to return the heart of Te Fiti in order to save the world. Did I mention similar to traditional Disney movies, Moana father also forbids her to leave the island similar to how King Triton forbid Princess Aerial from going to the surface. In the course of the movie, Maui actually makes fun of Moana, calling her a princess because she has an animal sidekick, another tell tale sign that Disney has with it’s Princesses.

Now is Disney’s Moana the best Disney film ever, no. Is Disney’s Moana a prefect depiction of the mythology of Maui, absolutely not, nor should it be. There are so many different versions of Maui’s story that it’s hard to really focus on just one. The culture of the  Polynesian islands is a rich mixture of diversity,the variety of Maui’s mythology is a great example of that. In some versions of Maui is actually married to Hina, There’s another version were Maui mother is Hina. Then of course there is yet another version where Hina is Maui’s sister. Then if we were to compare the Hawaii version of Maui to the Togan version of Maui which is of course different from the Samoan version, that’s of course going to be different from New Zealand’s Moari, and the list of different versions of the story honestly can continue forever and ever. The point is,t here are so many versions of Maui that Disney’s version of Maui is just another version in the world of other versions of Maui.


Is Disney’s version of Moana the best version in the world, absolutely not, but Disney has provided a great introduction to millions of children and hundreds of adults into the Polynesian mythology of Maui. Disney has been making movies for years, one of the biggest issues many have had is the lack of ethnic diversity within Disney movies. At least Disney has tried to add more diversity within their movies, plus they tried to make a serious effect compared to what they did with Pocahontas and Aladdin. What Disney learnt from their experiences is that in order for a culture to be represented they need to have authentic representation. Disney had a Polynesian musicians, they had Oceanic Story Trust made up  of academics, archeologist, anthropologist, linguist, plus historian, navigators, fishermen, elders and artists and my personal favorite tattoo master, all poring all over the script making sure all that aspects of Disney’s Moana was covered. I believe Disney spent 5 years researching in order to make the movie Moana, honestly what more do you want? What more do audiences want Disney could have done?

To all the people that are complaining that the movie is not cultural appropriate, what would you prefer Disney to have done. How is a Disney movie going to with 100% accurate going to portray the culture, spirit, and pride of the Polynesian culture. Honestly, what more do you want? You cannot have it both ways. You can not complain about Disney making another European based princess movie, then the moment Disney attempts to add cultural diversity amgonst its movies it’s getting hit with complaint after complaint about not being accurate to  every version of the mythology of Maui ever uttered from someones lips.

I do believe there are improvements that Disney could have made to the movie Moana. Could Disney not made coconut themed villains, yes of course. I do believe they missed racial slurs of “ brown skin” or “coconut skin” that not only Polyensians have issue with, but practically ever Islander hates that the “coconut” themed slur. Disney did miss the mark of avoiding a very painful slur, but they probably didn’t even think about their coconut themed villain  being anything more than terrifying for young children, who are the main watcher of Disney movie. That being said I’m not saying that there isn’t room for Disney movie Moana to be criticized especially since Taika Waiti did not get much credentials for his role in writing the film . From my understanding  Waiti is the only Polynesian writer who was involved in Disney’s Moana. Then again Waiti wrote the initial draft of the movie Moana  which I’m extremely curious how different the initial draft is compared to the finish version of Moana that is available on DVD today. But at least Taika Waititi got a “A Special Acknowledgement” in the Moana credits.

Regardless what people say about Disney Moana, I had a great time watching Moana with my mother and my daughter. I’m not Polynesian, but I am from the Bahamas and there were a lot of similarities from Moana’s culture and the culture of the Bahamas. I’m really excited the fact that my daughter saw herself being represented in skin tone,hair type, and gender roles in Moana.  I love this movie because my mother and I truly enjoyed this movie to the fullest, more importantly we truly loved Tamator’s song Shiny. Dwayne Johnson might have been the obvious selling point in the promotion of the film, but don’t be fooled Tamatoa, who was beautiful voiced by Jemaine Clement! As evil as Tamatoa is I honestly swoon for him because of Tamatoa song Shiny1 What’s your thoughts on Disney’s Moana.



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