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It's A World of Laughter A World of Tears

Never Mind! Disney’s First Latina Princess Isn’t Actually Latina, Says Disney.


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)

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  • Holly Kinnamont

    AMEN, Mary Sue.

  • http://twitter.com/jade__dragon Heather

    “All our characters come from fantasy lands…” Except for all the ones that don’t. Merida’s Scottish. Tiana’s from New Orleans. Belle’s from France. Mulan’s Chinese. Jane’s British. Megara’s Greek. Are some Disney movies set in fantasy worlds? Absolutely. (Hell, Arielle’s a mermaid, Kida’s from Atlantis.) But many are set in more of a fantasy take on a real place.

  • Adam R. Charpentier

    What about Mrs. Potato Head? She was from New Jersey or New York.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=501983222 Matt Graham

    You nailed it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/claire.winkler.3 Claire Winkler

    What a load of crap. We shouldn’t be clamouring for more international/ethnic Disney princesses.We should demand a post-princess reality. Merida was a step in the right direction because she wasn’t interested in ANY prince or suitor but she still was considered exceptional for it in the story, therefore still defined by her status as somebody’s wife rather than for her personhood. Go ahead and hit me with a slew of anecdotes about Mulan etc. She still had to dress as a man to be taken seriously. The Princess mentality is not helpful for our daughters to emulate and not beneficial to our culture in any way.

  • http://twitter.com/XandraDust Alexis the Unicorn

    I love how they say “All our characters come from fantasy lands…” When over half of the movies specifically state a country, or even a town. And if they don’t it’s stated in accents and scenery. It’s pretty hard to deny that Mulan’s from China, when they state it at least fifteen times, speak Chinese, wear traditional dress, and is heavy with Chinese traditions.

  • http://twitter.com/hammerman1993 David Hammer

    I thought Disney said they were done with promoting princesses…

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=563399299 David Ouillette

    I think the point is, while yes the places can be found on a map, the version in the cartoons are fantasy. The tip off are things like dragons and talking teacups.

  • Anonymous

    On a less serious note where is that girl’s nose? There just seems to be blank skin between her eyes and mouth. It is disconcerting.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000500177841 Rachel Banzhaf

    Psh. France has a long history of talking cupcakes.

  • http://www.facebook.com/laura.truxillo Laura Truxillo

    Well, of course. I mean, the only way for a character to be “not white” is if she’s from a particular country, and that just doesn’t gel with our fantasy worlds, right?

    Right?

    Oy.

  • Rebecca Pahle

    Disney even SAID that Sofia’s parents are from “enchanted kingdoms” inspired by Scandinavia and Spain, respectively. So clearly the “fairytale world” thing is BS. Not sure what they expected to accomplish by backtracking this way.

  • Rebecca Pahle

    Agreed, but I still think the ethnicity of these princesses, regardless of how “post-princess” they are, is important. Their heritage and how they’re defined by men are two separate issues, and they BOTH need to be addressed.

  • Rebecca Pahle

    A childhood game of “got your nose” gone dangerously awry…

  • http://twitter.com/EpicPseudonym Kayla K.

    I read this article to my mom and while I haven’t heard much about it, she thought she heard Selena Gomez was in talks for the part. If this is true, I wonder what made them decide against her and how this factors into the conversation as a whole.

  • Anonymous

    If you look really close, squint your eyes, tilt to the left a bit, you might see a smudge where her nose is.
    Maybe.

  • Anonymous

    HA! If they didn’t make a bazillion dollars on movies and merchandising from anything that even mentions the word princess in passing then I’d believe they’d stop pushing. As it stands I’m pretty sure they’re not giving up on the princess thing anytime soon.

  • http://www.facebook.com/pchavarriah Paula Chavarría

    I rather have European Sofia than Dora “la Latina” as the next Disney princess. My heart won’t stand another reference for our “tortillas”, “tacos”, “papito” complex and the visual image of latinas as an army of little Ugly Betty’s. We are nothing like that, we latins are the vivid example of globalization. We have families in which cousins with asian genes love their grandparents with african genes, we have white boys who date dark skin girls, we have redhead caramel skinned babies. We are not all from Mexico or Venezuela, each country has its own culture. We girls don’t always have the hourglass shape you expect, we are not all fat or skinny; each one of us is unique in both mind and body, and that’s what makes us special.

  • John Wao

    Wow between this and their earlier Avengers “this is a movie” fiasco, Is there anyone at the wheel at Disney’s Public Relations department?

  • Nick Gaston

    …it later turns out Disney backtracked because they found out the director had a nervous breakdown halfway through production, and Sofia spends the last half of the film executing peasants, a la Vlad Tepes.

  • Jinian

    Half Spanish and half Scandinavian isn’t Latina anyway. Maybe they realized that.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ashe.samuels Ashe P. Samuels

    Good to know that a fantasy setting with fantasy people suddenly negates what kids and adults alike are going to recognize the instance they see the cover: a thin, pale, blue-eyed, able-bodied white girl. Nobody, and I mean nobody, is going to look at her and say: “Hm. I would say she’s of Scandinavian heritage, but considering the fantastic setting, she could be an amalgam of different ethnicities, like the Sugary Frou Frou race, and the Sparkly Ping-Pong ethnic group.”

    Kiss my ass, Disney, for loving the status quo so damn much and constantly resorting to tired, hole-filled arguments when you’re called out time and time and TIME again.

    Whether you’re a fan of princesses or not, many kids (read: girls) are, and Brave has proven they don’t always have to be vapid and socially abominable merchandise tsunamis. If we do have them, let’s continue to do better with them.

  • Brian

    Speaking as a Sugary Frou Frou-American, I would be glad to see more representation of my fictional people. But alas, as a fantasy land, we have no race. Not even white, somehow. At least that’s what the Disney lawyers tell us.

  • Anonymous

    “Kiss my ass, Disney, for loving the status quo so damn much and
    constantly resorting to tired, hole-filled arguments when you’re called
    out time and time and TIME again. ”

    Seriously! Thank you! You’d think Disney learned from the 100 other times they were called to the carpet for being racist. Some things never change.

  • Vinny

    Don’t forget Jasmine (Arab).

  • http://twitter.com/CatLovrSebby SebastianMichaelis

    Hmm… not Latina… no nose… bewildered expression… maybe she’s from Midgar?

  • Anonymous

    Did somebody say Ariel Winter? Because I thought I heard somebody say Ariel Winter. <3

  • http://twitter.com/chicharo No el futbolista

    The thing is, the fact that YOU would rather have Sofia than a brown-skinned girl as the first latina princess does not mean every other latina shares your point of view. Yes, latinos are some of the most diverse when it comes to how we look because we take up practically a whole continent, and have mixed with every other race. But from ALL the possibilities for a Latina princess, they choose a white latina (aren’t there enough already?). I am Mexican and have white skin, but if I were a little girl I wouldn’t mind her because THERE ARE ENOUGH PEOPLE WHO LOOK LIKE ME ON THE MEDIA. Who do little latina, indian, pacific islander, middle-eastern etc girls look up two? I could count them in one hand.

  • Anonymous

    That’s been my issue. Hispanic =/= Latina.

  • Carmen Sandiego

    Yeah, doesn’t Latina mean Western Hemisphere including Latin America?

  • http://www.facebook.com/pchavarriah Paula Chavarría

    Well, well, well where do I start? First of all I didn’t said I wanted Sofia as the next Latina princess, I said I rather have another European princess (as she is from Spain and she is not Latin according to Disney recent declarations) as the next Disney princess, than a poorly concept for a Latina princess. And when they do actually make a Latina princess I don’t expect a Dora or a white skinned Barbie. Just by making her look Latina won’t make her Latina. I expect diversity, but more than that I want that the aspects that will make her Latin go beyond appearance and countries, because that’s what makes us Latin. A “Lucha Libre”, “tacos” eater princess won’t satisfy any dark skinned girl, she should be like Kidagakash or Carmen San Diego you couldn’t tell where they were from but you could look up to them because something within them seemed familiar.

  • http://www.facebook.com/priscilla.m.kay Priscilla Em Kay

    she’s not a princess, but in Emperor’s New Groove, set in MesoAmerica, Chicha (Pacha’s wife) is badass, funny, and gorgeous!

  • http://www.facebook.com/priscilla.m.kay Priscilla Em Kay

    i say, make a million many colored princesses from all over the globe…and we’re pretty stocked on whites, so let’s start elsewhere.

  • moon

    Wasn’t there a hideously racist Road to El Dorado in Disney’s past already?

  • Rebecca Pahle

    Road to El Dorado is Dreamworks, not Disney.

  • http://twitter.com/Mia_says_what The Notorious MIA

    You obviously missed the Cinderella-themed cosmetics collection they’re releasing at Sephora, too. To go with the re-release of Cinderella on Blu-Ray.

  • Rebecca Pahle

    I did hear that they said they were done making fairy tale movies. But then they’re doing that Snow Queen movie now, so maybe they’ve decided to stick with fairy tales on a limited basis? I hope so—it would be a shame if there weren’t a chance for a Latina princess because Disney stopped making fairy tale movies outside of the Disney Channel.

  • Blake

    I thought Disney said back when Tangled came out that they weren’t going to have “princess” films because it was “alienating the boys”.

  • http://twitter.com/ChannelDiza Chanel Diaz

    I would’ve accepted Sofia, but she has no culture representation, other than what’s eurocentric. She just seems like another ‘white girl,’ in a very ‘white world. (Because non-white people don’t contribute to our DIVERSE CULTURE, duh!)’ Yeah, most of America’s children are suppose to relate, huh? A better title for this show would’ve been “Sofia The Typical.”

    So, even if we couldn’t call Disney racist if they had a light-skinned Latina princess (considering, if they followed non-eurocentric culture, at least mostly), we can at least call them Colorist for seemingly having a thing against Brown Latinas/People.

  • belle

    Ho is she??