Disney’s Moana Movie REVIEW

Here at the The Culture Keeper we now have the opportunity to feature guest bloggers. Having guest bloggers is a great way to give another person’s perspective and have them tell their story.

Today we have the pleasure of a guest blogger providing a movie review to” Disney’s Moana”. I have yet to see the movie, but I will be taking my children to see the movie this upcoming weekend. However the guest blogger will offer their perspective of how they felt watching the movie. So here we go:

Ok so I watched Moana. Not once. Twice. Twice in the last 4 days. And yes…I have an opinion on the film. I’m torn 50- 50. It’s both…a love- hate relationship.

On story-line…I say “hell yeah!”

I’m happy to see the narratives of the black and brown…elevated to the level that whites are paying to see/ hear/ and be transported by our culture and our traditions.

I love that, although the Moana’s character has a European frame, she was drawn with the thick nose, wide set eyes, and juicy lips of a true Polynesian woman.

 The Writers did a stunning job of drafting a storyline which reenacts multiple struggles:

  • the fight between good and evil/ life and death, all in the same entity;

  • Elders being challenged by their youth;

  • the need for initiation rites being required for the survival of all;

  • the masculine identity being challenged and reshaped by a dynamic new-age feminism;

  • the collective Spirit of the Ancestors fighting to be heard in order to guide their descendants towards restorative healing.

 Yes. Yes.

And now you may ask …”So with all that appreciation…what could be the other 50%?”

I will turn the question back on you.

To the folks that are reading this blog after watching Moana.

You…look inside yourself.

Search for the glaring problem which was so prevalent throughout the film.

It was in every break-out-in-song-moment.

 With all of Disney’s attempt at honoring Polynesian culture…they still managed to make the songs sound as white-ified as ever.

It’s clear that they went with their good ole boys equation:

American pop song lyrics and melody + Broadway belting + whiney teenage angst- coming-into-age- voice= HIT.

The songs in Moana’s could have been interchanged with the songs in Frozen (the movie) with minimal effort. That’s a shame.

 The Disney conglomerate employed the Puerto Rican Spook that Sat by the Door, Composer Lin-Manuel Miranda, to write the music for Polynesian culture.

Does anyone else see what is wrong with that picture?

They hired a person of color song writer to compose the Disney Brand of white-washed musical sounds. How sad. And because Lin-Manuel Miranda is a Brown man, we are all supposed to accept his compositions as acceptable representations of Polynesian expression? Oh hell no.

I’m deeply disappointed in anybody who didn’t grit their teeth whenever Moana or Maui opened up their mouths to sing out expressions of whiteness.

Yes I said it. And I am not taking it back.

Not only was most of Moana’s music trite…I feel offended by Disney’s decision to deny Polynesian musicians/ storytellers…to tell their own history. There are amazing Polynesian songwriters whom could have had an opportunity to expose America to Polynesian music by being offered the opportunity to a Disney Platform.  So…in a nutshell…Booo to Disney!


Written by the Nameless Dozens.

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