Look, Pocahontas is a great movie, but that doesn’t mean it’s not problematic. The two aren’t mutually exclusive. And it’s a little inappropriate to compare fairy tales to real history—-like, the relationship between European settlers and Native Americans was not a fairy tale, it’s history. So Disney can change it and make a great story or whatever—-“It is a beautiful story with a beautiful message and it is told artfully” Yes! True, but: “I don’t understand why people can’t just let it be that”. Because it’s not just that? It’s also many other things? Anyone with a questioning mind should be able to look into the things they loved in their childhood and see the flaws?
I agree with Cannon. And there is no pop up indication that reminds movie watchers that this is not the true story. This retelling is not a retelling in the way beauty and the beast is. Not only was that always a fictional tale, but the changes of Pocahontas as specifically rooted in a colonized way of viewing native cultures (see here and here2 for more details on specific problemtic cultural and historical problems).
I think it’s too blasse to go say “read a book and learn the truth” etc. If it’s a movie about a historical event, the truth should not be so hidden so as to be almost the complete opposite of the movie portrayal. People cannot be expected- and should not be expected- to google the historical context of every movie they see. Would it be nice if they did? Probably. Would it be great if schools spent more time examining the non-white, POC history of American experiences, before and after the American Revolution? Certainly.
But in examining how movies like this operate in real life, as opposed to idealized US Americana, Disney’s Pocahontas IS the dominant understanding of how that moment in history went down. That IS what happens when you tell a story about a culture that is often ignored except to be denigrated or used as visual props- you end up being the accepted narrative, because all others have been systematically silenced. And, again, given how this movie feeds into historical white washing and native erasure and presumptions and stereotypes of native cultures, this is very troubling.
It’s not just a movie… it was never just a movie
For months, every morning when my daughter was in preschool, I watched her construct an elaborate castle out of blocks, colorful plastic discs, bits of rope, ribbons and feathers, only to have the same little boy gleefully destroy it within seconds of its completion.
No matter how many times he did it, his parents never swooped in BEFORE the morning’s live 3-D reenactment of “Invasion of AstroMonster.” This is what they’d say repeatedly:
“You know! Boys will be boys!”
“He’s just going through a phase!”
“He’s such a boy! He LOVES destroying things!”
“Oh my god! Girls and boys are SO different!”
“He. Just. Can’t. Help himself!”
I tried to teach my daughter how to stop this from happening. She asked him politely not to do it. We talked about some things she might do. She moved where she built. She stood in his way. She built a stronger foundation to the castle, so that, if he did get to it, she wouldn’t have to rebuild the whole thing. In the meantime, I imagine his parents thinking, “What red-blooded boy wouldn’t knock it down?”
She built a beautiful, glittery castle in a public space.
It was so tempting.
He just couldn’t control himself and, being a boy, had violent inclinations.
Her consent didn’t matter. Besides, it’s not like she made a big fuss when he knocked it down. It wasn’t a “legitimate” knocking over if she didn’t throw a tantrum.
His desire — for power, destruction, control, whatever- - was understandable.
Maybe she “shouldn’t have gone to preschool” at all. OR, better if she just kept her building activities to home.
I know it’s a lurid metaphor, but I taught my daughter the preschool block precursor of don’t “get raped” and this child, Boy #1, did not learn the preschool equivalent of “don’t rape.”
Not once did his parents talk to him about invading another person’s space and claiming for his own purposes something that was not his to claim. Respect for her and her work and words was not something he was learning. How much of the boy’s behavior in coming years would be excused in these ways, be calibrated to meet these expectations and enforce the “rules” his parents kept repeating?
There was another boy who, similarly, decided to knock down her castle one day. When he did it his mother took him in hand, explained to him that it was not his to destroy, asked him how he thought my daughter felt after working so hard on her building and walked over with him so he could apologize. That probably wasn’t much fun for him, but he did not do it again.
There was a third child. He was really smart. He asked if he could knock her building down. She, beneficent ruler of all pre-circle-time castle construction, said yes… but only after she was done building it and said it was OK. They worked out a plan together and eventually he started building things with her and they would both knock the thing down with unadulterated joy. You can’t make this stuff up.
Take each of these three boys and consider what he might do when he’s older, say, at college, drunk at a party, mad at an ex-girlfriend who rebuffs him and uses words that she expects will be meaningful and respecte, “No, I don’t want to. Stop. Leave.”
The “overarching attitudinal characteristic” of abusive men is entitlement.
You know, the one that gives housewives/full-time mothers a pension— wages for housework?
It’s ONLY A HUGE VICTORY FOR FEMINISM, SOCIALISM, AND WOMEN OF COLOR. Not a big deal or anything. Tumblr is mysteriously silent about this.