Disney’s Newest Cartoon Features A Young Indian Girl As the Protagonist. Is The Company Finally Stepping Away From Racist Stereotypes?
As a child, if anyone ever asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, my answer would always remain the same- A princess. I always wanted a castle, a beautiful garden, a knight in shining armour on a white horse and the ability to talk to animals who would later help me fulfil my destiny. Okay, I am sure by now you have guessed that my childhood was full of Disney princess movies. But hey, whose wasn’t?
From Mickey Mouse to Cinderella, Disney has touched the lives of millions of kids around the world and they continue to do so. Not only the princess’s but even the cartoons that are played on their TV channel are a major influence on a child’s life. But eventually, you outgrow watching cartoons day in and day out (ugh, adulting sucks) but that doesn’t mean you stop watching them altogether. Don’t judge me, but even now I can’t resist a good cartoon or an animated movie.
However, watching a Disney cartoon as an adulting is a completely different experience. Even though Disney cartoons, movies and merchandise have always been marketed as “innocent, wholesome family fun” but now you know all the right questions to ask (like why the hell do they randomly break out into a song?!) so you start noticing all the things that are wrong with them. Like for example, I noticed that for a long time all the Disney princesses were all fair-skinned, tall, slim with blonde hair. That right there is promoting ridiculous gender stereotypes.
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Disney Junior's 'Mira, Royal Detective' is India-inspired https://t.co/t0n4Sad3Qp
— Republic (@republic) March 18, 2020
The first time Disney broke out of its stereotypical shell was with the movie The Princess and The Frog. This movie featured Disney’s first Black princess, Tiana. There is also Pocahontas, Moana and Mulan that portray princesses of various descents.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t mean to crap all over everyone’s favourite Disney movies. But even you must admit they were a little racist and a whole lot sexist. But all that is a thing of the past since this last decade they have made efforts to be more inclusive.
I, for one, am particularly excited about their latest venture that features (drum roll, please) a young Indian girl as the protagonist. This newest cartoon- Mira, Royal Detective will be aired on Disney Jr this Friday and it has all elements of a classic Disney show- a smart young woman with amusing sidekicks and a whole lot of dancing and singing.
— India Forums (@indiaforums) March 14, 2020
The show will obviously revolve around Mira, a young girl who is named by the Queen of (fictional) Jalpur. She is, as you guessed it, the detective who solves her cases with the help of her two mongoose sidekicks and other friends.
The characters will be voiced by some of the greatest talents in the South Asian world. Celebrities like Kal Penn, Freida Pinto, Utkarsh Ambudkar and Jameela Jamil. The voice of Mira belongs to 16-year-old Leela Ladnier.
Okay, maybe it still has touches of the same light that Indians are usually portrayed in. But I never said it was perfect, I said it’s a great initiative on Disney’s part to be more inclusive. This is a departure from their stereotypical princesses and that in itself is an awesome thing.
I would’ve loved to have a Disney cartoon with an Indian protagonist as a child. That way, I would’ve been able to relate so to it so much more. But nevertheless, at least Indian kids of this generation will be able to appreciate our culture through this cartoon so much more.
It is a great time to be a child in India!