As asteriamalfoy recently reported on the club wall, it appears that Moana will soon become the newest member of the Disney Princess lineup. The club's reception to the news is a mixed bag, which is the latest example of how the general Fanpop opinion (namely, this club's opinion) doesn't always match that of the internet. It's interesting why that is, and I will attempt to find the reason here.
Before going forward, be aware that everything that I consider an "opinion" of Fanpop and/or the internet is a generalization
. True, there are some users on both this website and the rest of the worldwide web who are in their respective minorities. This is merely a breakdown of how I see it and my attempt to get to the root of the issue -- why is Moana beloved in some places, but not in others? Time to find out.
The Difference of Opinion
I find that on Youtube, Disney-related sites (such as "Oh My Disney"), and other sites (Buzzfeed and the like), Moana is a well-liked character. The common reasons people like her from what I've seen are:
• She's responsible; even though she wants to explore the ocean, she does what's right and chooses to lead her people. And she enjoys it, too!
• She's self-reliant; she doesn't need to be constantly saved, and she can save the day pretty much on her own.
• On a related note, she "doesn't need a man."
• On a separate related note, she's quick-thinking and resourceful, or what some people call "badass."
• She doesn't have the traditional look of a Disney Princess, i.e. no formal gown and different body type. This gives her a new and perhaps more realistic look.
• She renounces the princess name.
Then you check out the DP club on Fanpop, and you find that generally, Moana is not particularly loved, for reasons including:
• She has little to no flaws.
• She doesn't have much of a personality.
• She's just a mish-mash of the princesses who came before her -- nothing new.
• She renounces the princess name.
That's quite a contrast in opinion, and maybe a little surprising that a place dedicated to the DPs generally doesn't take too kindly to her. I think I've discovered why this contrast exists, though.
The Source of the Difference
Perhaps this contrast is because people that you find elsewhere on the internet have a different set of character traits/qualities that they value than the ones on this club. From what I understand, the general internet crowd values Disney Princesses and heroines who:
• Add something new to the lineup
• Are strong and can work independently
• Are determined and don't give up
• Are admirable
On this club, I think we have a different set of values for DPs. We like those who:
• Add something new to the lineup
• Are realistic and/or relatable
• Stand for something positive regarding princess-hood, femininity, etc. without feeling forced or too "in your face"
• Respect the DP franchise
Regarding the first bullet point -- I believe both sides like it when a princess/heroine adds something to the lineup, but it is seen in different ways. The internet seems to like how Moana invokes new
positive qualities such as the desire and willingness to lead, which, let's be honest, hasn't been done with a DP before, at least not explicitly. I theorize that users on this club, including myself, consider all
of the positive qualities of the character and how those stack up against the existing DPs, not just the new ones. For example, action-packed (Rapunzel), self-doubt (Pocahontas, Mulan), determined (Ariel), outspoken (Merida), and funny (Rapunzel, Anna) are all traits that we've seen in other princesses and heroines. The number of familiar traits can make the actual new traits seem like not enough.
However, I think the above argument is only a tiny part of why the Fanpop opinion is more critical. The remaining bullet points are key. As stated, Moana does
show a desire and willingness to lead her people, which would fit the desired element of saying something positive about princess-hood (er, leader-hood, or how about just leadership). Is it in your face? I'm going to lean towards "no," but -- now I'm going to bring my own opinion into the mix -- it's one of the reasons I have difficulty latching onto her character. Despite Moana having this very positive quality going for her, she doesn't feel realistic to me. Her turn-around from wanting to sail the seas to being perfectly content staying and leading is just too sudden. With few flaws to balance it out, she comes across as a little too perfect to me. Perhaps this lack of realism and relatability is what others dislike, too.
It's often said that a strong character is one who works through their flaws; ergo, a strong female character is one who works through her flaws. Moana might have flaws, but maybe they don't get the focus they need to make us think, "Oh yeah, she overcame that flaw, achieved her goals, and learned something from this adventure." If that's the case, then the positive femininity thing doesn't really work. It's almost too positive, or impossibly positive. We need something more convincing if the takeaway is that a girl/lady/woman can achieve great things.
The biggest issue that Fanpoppers have with Moana comes from this line: "First off, I'm not a princess. I'm the daughter of the chief." This statement has not been well-received because for some, it implies that Moana is disrespecting the Disney Princess name. I shared that opinion too at one point. It may just be Disney poking fun at itself, but it can rub fans the wrong way. If this character who seemingly fits the DP mold can't appreciate the leading ladies who came before her...well, how the heck are we supposed to like her? Contrast this with the general internet's opinion, where people take it to mean that Moana doesn't have to be bogged down by the title of princess; one can be a strong character without having a royal title or other high status. Or, maybe people like it because it detaches her from the princess stereotype that they can't stand.
The more I think about it, the more I think that line is a double-edged sword. On one hand, it can be perceived as, "Oh yeah, you don't need to be a princess to save the day or to be someone important or worthwhile." On the other hand, one can perceive it as Moana being better than a princess, which can be taken as "Oh, you think you're better
than the Disney Princesses, is that right?" or "Yeah, the princess title is just that -- a title. Not all heroines have to be princesses." Well, maybe there's a better message here. Instead of having your character say they're not a princess, why not embrace their princess-ness (or the equivalent -- daughter of a chief would be an equivalent), and then show us that said character is a good, strong character? You'd be broadening your own definition of princesses to mean any good-natured, strong-willed female, which is exactly what the DP franchise is trying to do now with their recent videos and slogan. Then, all of the princesses can be seen in a new and positive light.
Not to be too redundant, but I do believe that Moana's reception here versus on the rest of the internet boils down to what people want and like to see in Disney heroines, as well as how they interpret certain aspects of the character (or lines of dialogue, as discussed above). I think this is also the reason why fans can have such opposing views on other characters, like Ariel or Elsa. It can also be why some characters are sometimes seen favorably here, like the early princesses, but not much elsewhere. It all has to do with the specific set of traits we value. Moana's prospective introduction to the lineup brought this...for lack of a better term, "issue," to the spotlight, for me at least. Perhaps discussions like these will change some perceptions of characters for the better, even if just slightly, if people recognize the exact qualities that are being valued by other fans.