Saturday, July 23, 2016
MAKING NEW REALMS WHERE YOU SHOULDN'T
This is a blog about hot guys doing hot things, but since it's a blog and most blogs are used to rant, Papa is gonna rant... First a cute cartoon guy... Gabe the royal guard.
Elena of Avalor. What a mess.
So the premise is— Disney’s first Latina Princess…
As I was watching Frozen (yes, I don’t have kids, but I like Disney stuff), I was bombarded with ads for the new series Elena of Avalor. Never heard of her before last night (a quick search today makes it appear like she’s been around for a while, who knows), and I was intrigued… for all the wrong reasons. There were flying felines, a spirit (I’m going to say) fox, a swashbuckling fight over a carriage with a Zorro-like character, magic, a galleon, and that was all during a thirty-second commercial.
I understand that because it’s a Disney thing magic is not a stretch. I’m fine with that. My problem is with the universe they created for this “Latina Princess.” To my knowledge, there were no kingdoms in America after the European invasion (yes, invasion). There were Capitanias y Virreinatos (Captaincies and Viceroyalties), therefore, historically, there were no Kings for us to have princesses. Yeah, yeah, there was a “Kingdom of Brazil” for a while but that doesn’t count, they don’t speak Spanish and it was part of the Kingdom of Portugal anyway. Nevertheless, it’s Disney— she MUST be a princess. Let’s go the fantasy way then, let’s create a new place with Spanish roots…
Avalor. What the hell does that even mean? It sounds a little like “valor,” the Spanish word for courage, but it has a closer sound to Avalon of the Arthurian mysteries. Why not call the kingdom Valentia?
Elena of Valentia, has a nice ring to it, hasn’t it? This word in Spanish (with tilde = valentía) means exactly the same as “valor” and would have been a better fitting with its English pronunciation.
Elena herself looks like a rip off of Maria from The Book of Life. I know that’s the stereotypical way most non-Latino people see Latino girls. I’m gonna say I’m okay with it because it’d be losing the battle before starting it to ask for a different image. But the creatives could have done something to make her different (these people earn a lot of money, make them work!).
Don’t get me started with the swashbuckling and the galleons and the Mission-style buildings. I didn’t know if I was in San Angel (The Book of Life town) or San Ricardo (from Puss in Boots). Then again, that’s what most Americans see when they think Latino old town based on remnants of Spanish colonization, and it’s Disney so they try to be inclusive, but don’t stray too far from the known path.
Honestly, I was only able to digest like 15 minutes of the one-hour episode. As a writer, I can see them mixing real world things with fantasy, but Disney usually goes too far or not far enough, never the right amount. I mean for crying out loud, Elena’s full name is Elena Castillo Flores. Geesh (insert eye roll). If they wanted to be ambiguous, they could have used a lot of other Spanish words as surnames, but no, they go and use actual Latino last names. Why. I just have to wonder why?
Now, the whole background story (there was a lengthy explanation of how we reached the point where the series actually starts) had more holes than that cheese with the holes. Plot holes are the worst, but you can ignore them if the story is interesting enough. It wasn’t. Perhaps, if you’re younger than ten-year-old girls, you wouldn’t mind, but as a grown-ass man watching cartoons I did. Oh, and because she had to be a princess (because Disney girls are princesses never queens), the series starts the day of her coronation, but then they go, “Oh, no, sweetie, you’re too young to be queen.” Now, she needs to prove that she’s mature enough to be queen, and that’s the cue to start the adventures. Yay!
During those 15-20 minutes of torture, I just kept thinking Mulan of Perth, Merida of Peru, and Tiana of Pekin. I mean, if you gonna go there— go there deep enough to make sense. Place the girl in a logical (even if fantastic) place and run with it.
I could think of ten different ways to create an actual Latina Princess with a logical Hispanic background based on historical facts, and she wouldn’t even need to be Aztec or Inca (those were empires not kingdoms, duh). And if I don’t want to go historical and logical, think of what they did in Gallavant: the princess looks Hispanic and the kingdom’s name is Valencia! And it wasn’t even in Spain! We never knew where the heck it was, but I didn’t question it because they didn’t pitch it as anything; they just let it roll with the story.
I’m not going to go the racism way because I’m tired of how tired is the race card in this country. I’m criticizing this princess’s story based on my a) historical knowledge, b) writer’s standpoint. To me, this was a lazy attempt at inclusion, and if it were a book, I would only give it two stars. And that second star is for the flying cats!