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Disney’s Giving Us Another Female Protagonist, But ‘Moana’ Will Be Written and Directed by Dudes

Disney's Giving Us Another Female Protagonist, But 'Moana' Will Be Written and Directed by Dudes

Walt Disney Animation Studios has finally released some information about Moana, an animated adventure set in the South Pacific expected to arrive in late-2016. The film will focus on its titular character, Moana — a female protagonist.

According to the Los Angeles TimesMoana “is to tell the story of a spirited teenage girl and ‘born navigator’ who sets sail in search of a fabled island in the ancient world of Oceania. Along the way, she teams up with a demigod named Maui and encounters mythical creatures and places.” Sounds great — and Gravity proved that audiences will show up for an action-adventure spectacle that focuses almost entirely on a single female character. 

What’s less exciting, though, is that Mona will be written and directed by two men, Ron Clements and John Musker (The Little Mermaid, The Princess and the Frog). Not to detract from Clements and Musker’s qualifications or talent (of which they clearly have an abundance), but it sure would be nice to see a female director at the helm of Moana — and there are plenty available who are also talented and qualified.  

The LA Times refers to Moana as “the latest in a string of Disney movies, animated and live-action, powered by strong female characters, including Brave, Frozen and Maleficent. (Those three films were all hits, grossing $539 million, $1.27 billion, and $757 million worldwide, respectively).” Never mind that “strong female character” is a pretty nebulous term; instead, let’s focus on the fact that none of these box-office smashes — bringing scripts about empowering girls and women to life — have yet been directed solely by a woman (Brenda Champman co-directed Brave and Jennifer Lee co-directed Frozen). 

So here’s what’s up, Disney: if you truly want to inspire girls and women to believe that they can do anything and everything, your message would be heard more loudly and clearly if you hired a women to direct these projects, since female directors are consistently underrepresented as a result of institutional gender discrimination, including at your studio. But it’s disingenuous and fraudulent to tell little girls to dream big and stamp out opportunities for them when they grow up to be women. 

[via Los Angeles Times]

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