Open Access Article of the Week: Mulan and Moana: Embedded Coloniality and the Search for Authenticity in Disney Animated Film by Michelle Anya Anjirbag

As the consciousness of coloniality, diversity, and the necessity of not only token depictions of otherness but accurate representations of diversity in literature and film has grown, there has been a shift in the processes of adaptation and appropriation used by major film production companies and how they approach representing the other. One clear example of this is the comparison of the depiction of diverse, cross-cultural womanhood between Walt Disney Animation Studio’s Mulan (1998) and Moana (2016). This paper will use a cross-period approach to explore the ways in which a global media conglomerate has and has not shifted its approach to appropriation of the multicultural as other and the implications for representational diversity in the context of globalization and a projected global culture. In one case, a cultural historical tale was decontextualized and reframed, while in the other, cultural actors had a degree of input in the film representation. By examining culturally specific criticisms and scenes from each film, I will explore how the legacy of coloniality can still be seen embedded in the framing of each film, despite the studio’s stated intentions towards diversity and multiculturalism.

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