Good luck pulling your foot out of your mouth on this one, Disney. The studio set off a wave of commentary—some positive, some negative—following their introduction of the star of the upcoming Disney Channel movie Sofia the First: Once Upon a Princess as their first Latina princess. While some objected to Sofia not “looking Latina” and being voiced by a white actress, others were quick to point out the diversity in how Latinas look and sound. The fact that Sofia’s heritage seemed a bit tacked on—Disney Junior vice president of original programming Joe D’Ambrosia noted that while Sofia is Latina, the movie would “never actually call [that] out”—rubbed some the wrong way, but others applauded the limited representation.
Well it turns out it’s all a moot point, because now Disney’s saying Sofia’s not actually Latina anyways.
I’m facepalming at you so hard right now, Disney.
According to senior vice president of original programming Nancy Kanter, “What’s important to know is that Sofia is a fairytale girl who lives in a fairytale world. All our characters come from fantasy lands that may reflect elements of various cultures and ethnicities but none are meant to specifically represent those real world cultures.”
So the big revelation here is that the very healthy discussion that’s sprung up around Sofia’s heritage is irrelevant because… the movie’s fictional? You don’t saaaay! Funny how the fantasy settings of Snow White and Cinderella don’t make their protagonists any less white. You can’t accept (justified) acclaim for creating an African-American princess with The Princess and the Frog‘s Tiana and then turn around and act completely oblivious to the need for a Latina princess. That’s not how it works.
This false alarm could be a good thing, though. The controversy has certainly let Disney know that it’s time for a Latina princess, and hopefully when they do get around to creating one her heritage will be a bit more thought-out then “Well let’s take this Princess and make her mother from a country that’s sort of like Spain, but not really.”
And Disney’s first Latina princess is worth more than a made-for-TV movie, anyways. Disney! Princesses is what you do! The first Latina princess is important—don’t half-ass it.
(via: NBC Latino)