I'm confused. When I first heard that Disney was going to make a big budget animated movie heavily inspired by my home country Norway, I was thrilled, super excited, and although it obviously deviates a bit from Norwegian culture in many aspects (which is fine, 'cause it's not even supposed to be Norway, it's a fictional country based on Norway), it was so much fun to look at all the screenshots and promos featuring classic Norwegian architecture and rosemaling and bunads (folk dress, same stuff featured in the Huldra Maker) and Norwegian fjords and all that. This is the first time Disney has ever made a big budget movie about a Nordic country before, heck, one of the only times any big budget American movie in general has made a movie based on a Nordic country, and I was looking so much forward to seeing it. ...then I saw the amount of hate this movie has gotten.
It's not even released yet, yet you can't even google the title without finding a ton of angry posts about the fact that the story deviates from the original Danish fairytale (a complaint which surprises me, 'cause Disney doesn't have a single adapted movie that stays true to the source material. Read the original Hunchback of Notre Dame, The Little Mermaid, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty and you'll see what I mean. I have read most of these, and they are very drastically different from the Disney movies, moreso than a lot of people realise.), a ton of posts about how the main character looks like that girl from Tangled (This one I can actually agree with. I don't really like how the Disney princesses look these days, they're too big-eyed and anime-ish for my taste, plus it really is true that Anna does look an awful lot like Rapunzel, which seems a bit unoriginal. However, I gotta say I think this is a really stupid reason to hate the movie. Cinderella looks a lot like Alice from Alice in Wonderland and Wendy from Peter Pan, but nobody hates the Cinderella movie for that reason.), and of course, the massive amount of complaints about how the characters are *shocker* white. Now, this one I can also understand. It is unfair that the majority of Disney main characters have been white, though that trend has been changing in the recent years with characters like Tiana, Jasmine, Mulan, Lilo, Kida and Esmeralda.
Now, what I don't understand about this one is that nobody complained about this when Brave or Tangled were released, so what makes this movie any different? Is it because they're Norwegian, and that's somehow more shameful or something because we're always stereotyped as blonde? I don't even know. A lot of people are angry because they think that this originally Danish fairytale should've been set in Mongolia, Kenya, Mexico, Inuit culture or whatever other non-white culture you can think of. But to be honest with you, if they had set a Nordic story in a different culture when they've never actually made a movie set in a Nordic country before, I would feel a bit cheated, and I'm sure I wouldn't be the only one. And then there's the people acting as if Norway has a lot of black people, even in the time period the story is set (presumably the 1800's), which is... well, incorrect. I'm sure that even back then there would've been some immigrants here, but they wouldn't have been many. For one, there's the fact that back then, Norway was a dirt-poor country. People were moving to the USA from Norway in massive amounts because the country was so shitty to live in that not even the native population wanted to live here, so I really, really doubt we would have an awful lot of immigrants wanting to live here back then, and unlike Britain or France, Norway didn't have any colonies or anything so we wouldn't have gotten immigrants that way either. There's also people saying that Sámi people are dark-skinned and always have black hair and that they look exactly like Inuits, which isn't really true either, for the most part they look exactly like other Norwegian people, and to a lot of people's surprise I'm sure: one of the main characters in this movie is in fact a Sámi, that guy with the reindeer and fur clothing. Of course, very losely based on Sámi clothing and culture, but still, it's not like the dresses look exactly like Norwegian bunads either, they're just inspired by them.
I think the solution isn't to adapt European tales and set them in non-European cultures. A better solution would be for them to simply adapt more non-European fairytales and set them in their respective cultures, that way no one feels cheated or underrepresented, and they would get to actually showcase some genuine culture and not just a culture modified to fit this and that European story. There are loads of them out there; Inuit fairytales, Chinese fairytales, African tribal fairytales, Native American fairytales, Indian fairytales, Maori fairytales, so why limit themselves to only European stuff, and why are people demanding that European tales be set in some other country, and if it's set in the actual country the original story set it in the movie is then somehow racist? I just don't understand it. As far as I can see there is no racism in Frozen, no racist dialogue, no racist stereotypes. Tangled and Brave also had all-white casts, yet no one complained about those, so why is Frozen somehow racist for doing exactly the same?
Even with all the complaints, I'm still very excited for this movie, though this really makes me wonder if people reacted this way to all the Disney classics I used to watch as a kid. Before The Little Mermaid was released, did people complain about how racist it was for having a European mermaid? Before Beauty and the Beast was released, did people complain about how much it deviated from the original fairytale? I don't even know, but I'm curious. I know The Hunchback of Notre Dame got some criticism for Disneyfying and softening the originally very brutal story, but that's the only one I know of.