Candice Bradley (Candice.Bradley@LAWRENCE.EDU)
Wed, 21 Jun 1995 11:00:30 -0600


The following message was posted to COSWA and is being reposted here to
Anthro-L with permission from both the author (Monique Sol Sonoquie)
and the sender to the COSWA list, J.H. Burton. Enjoy.

Candice Bradley
The following comments about the latest Disney production are from Monique
Sol Sonoquie, and reposted with her permission. Perhaps it's somewhat
tangential to the list, but i think it has bearing upon anthropological
outreach <and how much will our collective research affect public
understanding compared to a single media event such as this?>... as well as
feminist issues. ...jb

"Haku Ben,
Well, I had the disgusting privilege of previewing Pocahontas this
week. I kind of had an idea of what to expect, but was still surprised at
what I saw. Knowing some of the historical facts of course gave me some
bias, but my biggest problems did not stem from this. First of all, I am
appalled that Disney is making money off of the life of a child
molester. Yes, John Smith was at least 42 when he met Pocahontas, child
of 11. He writes in his own "Histories", that he did not have a
relationship with her, but basically raped her, left her with child and
still saw her as a uncivilized savage. That she did go to Europe but
died at the age of 21.
But what really surprised me was the way that Pocahontas was presented
to children, as an enormously-breasted, protruding rear-ended, voluptuous
dark, savage. John Smith was the only blonde-haired, blue-eyed, young,
studly man on the ship of over 200 men. The extreme sensual/sexual over
tones in this children's animation are discomforting. Who is the movie
for? children or men. The continuous profile shots of Pocahontas'
breast, which appear to be maturing(beyond womanhood) before the viewers
eyes are distracting and hard to ignore, unnecessary, stereotypic and
sexist. What kind of message does this give young women, especially
Native American women? That to be beautiful is to be large-breasted and
anorexic? The skin shots are "proof" of an uncivilized people: off the
shoulder buckskin dress, mid-drift, and thigh high skirt, that keeps
crawling up to the top of her thighs (especially in the scene when she is
crawling around like an animal spying on John Smith).
Have I mentioned the "Kill the Injuns" song, that surprisingly appears on
the CD.
Yes, at one point, the "savages" call the Europeans "savages", and this is
supposed to make up for the 30 minutes in which it's embedded in our
children's heads who are the real "savages", "filthy heathens". We know
children, we know what they pick up on, and we know how cruel they can
be. While, let me tell you Disney that if my children are called
"savages" or "filthy heathens" even once, we're talking major law suit.
Growing up as the only Native American in school, I know how cruel and
insensitive children can be, even in play. I know how painful and
devastating the scars are that words can leave.
The other ridiculous historical inaccuracies are: John Smith never saved
any "Injuns" life (he saves her father's); they never had a
relationship; they didn't just go away (Europeans), they never did. Yes,
Disney admits that this is not historically accurate, but we know how
children have a difficult time separating fantasy from reality. Shit,
even adults I have spoken with believed the story was accurate. Disney
is now in the business of manufacturing history. Native Americans have
been bombarded with this strategy in order to dehumanize, strip us of
property and basic human rights since the Europeans stepped on this
Yes, three well known actors have conceded to be part of
this, but that is what they are "actors". There were also many Native
American people who declined the parts based on the script and racist,
sexist, stereotypical slant of the film. And why the gigantic hoopla?
No other Disney movie was shown in Central Park. I'll tell you why. The
film was not that funny. Yes, all of Disney's animated films are sexist,
and racist, but at least there is humor. There were very little laughs in
the screening I attended. Yes, it had some beautiful shots in it, but the
negativity and sexuality override that.
Why didn't Disney just write a whole new story? They could have done a
decent job with out the "Boobs", or racial slurs. Now that they've done
Arabs, Fishes, and Native Americans, are they going to do Africans? Will
they refer to them as "Nigars", like they called Native Americans "filthy
heathens", Is there a difference? NO. Or was the Lion King as close as
they'll get?
Will America open their eyes? Everybody talks about sex and violence on
television, what about Disney? I could go on, but I think I've made
myself clear. I invite you to see for yourself, but please don't take
your children until you've viewed it first. Believe me, the temper
tantrums and nagging if you don't take them will be more tolerable than
the instilled ignorance and sexist/racist habits they pick-up in the
film. Tantae.

Monique Sol Sonoquie / moso@mercury.sfsu.edu