Over the past twenty years, Disney has gone to ever-greater lengths to make their animated movies more inclusive of cultures from around the world, with varying results. Their newest feature Moana is a box office and critical hit, but how well does it represent Polynesian culture? Buzzfeed talked to 21 people with Polynesian backgrounds about their overall impressions, their favorite and least-favorite things about the film, and what they would change about it.
Gina: I think the movie was a good (albeit watered-down) representation of our culture. I’m very pleased that they used Polynesian voice actors, and that they did so much research so as to get the cultural pieces correct. I thought it would bother me to see all the cultures combined, but it didn’t. The Samoan headdress with the Tongan traditional clothing and Hawaiian dancing and Tahitian drumming… didn’t bother me at all. I know there were many things that were technically incorrect, but I felt that overall, it was a good and positive representation of our culture. And I LOVE that I can buy my daughter a doll that not only looks similar to her, but that is actually from her culture.
Katey: I loved the movie overall. It was beautiful. But Disney (and everyone else) must know that it’s impossible to make a movie that is a complete representation of a culture. It doesn’t mean that they did a bad job. They did a wonderful job. It just means that the job isn’t done!
While the overall reception was positive, there are some fine points in Moana that the interviewees did not agree on, and some ways they want to set the record straight. You can read the entire article here.