Saturday, April 29, 2017

Where do I fit in, Disney?

I was looking at the history of the Disney Channel.  Why?  This is where curiosity hits the cat and hits the cat hard.  Here are a couple of facts:
·         The Disney Channel first started in 1977, according to Wikipedia, my favorite site for facts.  There was a problem, Disney decided to focus all of their energy on Epcot, which opened in 1982.  So, they tabled the idea of starting the channel.
·         The Disney Channel started as a premium channel on April 18, 1983, and it was on from 7:00 am to 1:00 am.  Its first show was called Good Morning, Mickey. (Humm, that name sounds familiar, and Disney did not own ABC at the time)
·         At the time of its debut, Disney had no princesses of color at all.  Princess and the Frog did not debut until December 11, 2009.  Moana was so last year, and the Disney Channel’s first Hispanic Princess was July 22, 2016, on Disney Junior, NOT the Disney Channel. 
Sometimes, I wonder as a Disney fan if I really like the company, who does not treat my people with fairness in terms of roles in the movies, both animated and live.
This has been a fight for all people (not only African Americans) for years when it comes to movie roles that represent how we really live, and not for the stereotypical roles as seen in the news and other parts of the country, and the world. 
Let’s face it, when movie productions want a gang, they hire African American and Hispanic males to fill in the void.  Poverty, same thing.  When the movies call for someone rich, A white person is hired.   When they hire an African American to play a rich person, that role has to be married to a white person.  Asians get the treatment of owning a restaurant, nail salon or doing martial arts. 
Often times when a casting manager hired a person in a lead role, who is the total opposite of what they think the movie audience wants to see, there are often bad ratings.  This is in both the movies and television.
Getting back to Disney.  When Tiana, Disney’s first African American Princess, who actually marries into royalty, not royalty from birth, shows up at the parks, I was ecstatic.  I could not wait to see her every time I go to Disney.  She, after all, represented that little girl inside of me, who used to put a long towel on my head after a bath, and parade around the bathroom like I was royalty.   Then I found out that Princess Tiana will only be around the parks for special occasions I wanted to know why.  What if I and my family show up on a day when there is nothing special going on in the parks?  Who is my niece of 8 years old going to see when we get to the parks?  So, I started watching YouTube videos and researching all things, Princess Tiana.  After all, I wanted my niece to be happy to see someone special who was dark-skinned like her. Boy, I could never have been so wrong in my life.
I was not looking at why I and my family is going to Disney in the first place.  We were going there to bond.  I am busy, my parents are busy, my sister is busy, and my brother is busy.  We all lead separate lives and this was a trip that may be a trip where all of us are together doing something special.  This not supposed to be a trip where I am finding someone that looks like me.  That is what family reunions are all about.  Disney is about having fun, riding the rides, eating the expensive food (I did not say that Disney is cheap), and bonding with your family and your favorite childhood memory. 
So, what if we do not find Princess Tiana or any other character that is supposed to look like me and my family.  I am supposed to look like me. I am supposed to represent me and my character.  When they see me, they are not supposed to see some animated princess in a flowy dress.  Disney is supposed to see a paying customer who is happy that she spent her hard-earned money with them. 
At the end of the day, Disney is a company, a business, and an entity who is supposed to turn happiness into profits on their end.  If I am not happy, is Disney going to make sure that they take care of what I need in order for me and my family to return for another vacation?  You bet.  It says so in each Cast Member’s contract.  If enough customers are not satisfied, that person is fired, and Disney will not see a profit.  If there are not enough profits to earn, then shareholders will turn on them.  If shareholders turn on them, Bob Igor will not have a company to run, and Disney will be out of business.  I believe this is one of the reasons why Macy’s, Sears, HHGregg, K-Mart, The Limited, Payless Shoes, and countless others are closing stores, whole companies going out of business, and liquidating for the bankruptcy courts.
If there is something I want to you to take away from this post is this:  everything is not about race.  At least it shouldn’t.  I want what is fair and just for all, but it is also up to all of us to get Disney and the other studios to continually see that characters do not come in one race of color, and to stop stereo typecasting.  Gangs and drug dealers in real life come in different races.  Same with drug addicts, prostitutes, the rich, the poor, the working class, the dancer, the evangelist, and the priest.   We all have different roles that make up this world.  It is about time the movies, plays, and television programs show it. 

Movie and television companies alike, stop holding back roles for certain people.  If they meet at least the basic requirements (age range, gender, and height) and have the basic knowledge of the type of role they would be playing, give them a chance.  Do not turn them down because they are a certain color or race.  It is discriminating.  Who knows, maybe you will spark the best actor/actress you have seen in a while, and you may have launched someone’s career.  Everyone deserves a chance, and I deserve to see someone who represents me.  So, where do I fit in, Disney?  I think I fit in fine where I sit.

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