Thursday, October 30, 2014

A Dream to Reality via A Kiss

Money doesn’t buy happiness, or does it?  What if it means reaching your childhood dream, or better yet yours and your father’s dream? Princess and the Frog tells a story of Tiana, Disney’s first African-American princess, who dedicates her entire life to raising enough money to buy her own restaurant, Tiana’s Place. Tiana’s father has taught her since she was young that wishing comes with hard work, but when she has the opportunity to wish on a star she wishes for the money to buy her restaurant.  Surprised to discover a talking frog, Prince Naveen, she discovers that she must kiss the frog if she wants to get the money.  Simply for her dream, she kisses the frog and soon finds herself in a frog’s body.  This film tells the captivating love story of the rich and the poor, prince and servant, who set out to find a solution that will make them human again. This film is filled with messages about hardwork, money, and love, but beyond that the film has an underlying message that relates back to a slave based society. 
As a child, Tiana only knew Princess Charlotte because her mother was their housekeeper.  She would enter their large mansion, see Charlotte get a new dress daily and a dog when she did not even ask for it, and then she would head back to the comfort of her small home with her mother and father.  This film exemplifies a hierarchy of power, one that the black people take care of the white and the white people are rich while the black are poor.  The film takes place in New Orleans, a Southern states which allowed for slavery.  The film has an underlying argument that black families, although not as wealthy, value hard work to reach dreams, while white people can simply wish on a star to buy any dream they have. Although placing African-Americans lower than whites, the film does place a strong value system in the black community and a horrible value system in whites. The audience of this film is families with young children, and this argument has a strong emotion appeal specifically for the black community. Because society values hard work and family, Tiana’s family represents the American ideals. Although the film gives a positive perspective on Tiana’s family, it still represents them as a lower class to Charlotte’s family.  However, the end of the film tells a different story.  Tiana, the poor waitress, falls in love with Prince Naveen who, as one lyrics states, “for the way you’re something that I’d never choose, but at the same time something I don’t wanna lose, and never wanna be without” (azlyrics). Tiana and Prince Naveen eventually marry and live happily ever after in the comfort of Tiana’s new restaurant.
This argument is credible because the each actor or actress that plays the voice of an African-American character is also African-American in reality. This adds credibility because they are playing the role of their own race, so they can relate to their character roles. I think that if there were white people playing these roles, there would be more controversy over the role of black people in the film. The values that are strongly reflected in this film include hard work, family, and friends. The values are used to build logos for the argument of the film: “some assumptions in an argument will be based on shared values derived from culture and history” (Lundsford 87).  This builds the argument of the film because it teaches children that they can dream, but they must be willing to put the work in and not lose sight of the most important things in life. Above all, this argument has a strong emotional appeal. In general the film has an optimistic feeling with music that makes people feel happy and a characters with problems people can relate to. This film uses characters to evoke certain emotions; The Shadow Man is scary, Tiana is hardworking and driven, Prince Naveen is charming and hansom, and Charlotte is beautiful yet oblivious. However, for a character like Tiana, the film creates an emotional appeal to their character through her driven mentality that allows viewers “to sympathize with ideas that are connected to those feelings” (Lunsford 41). Because Tiana sets her mind on her dream and is willing to do whatever it takes, young kids also learn that they can do anything they put their mind to.
Despite the film instilling the idea of hardwork into children, there are some points that may take away from this argument.  One argument that this film may potentially makes is that taking the easy way out is okay. For all of Tiana’s life she has worked hour after hour and saved penny after penny so she could one day buy her restaurant.  However, one day she sees Charlotte wish on a star for a Prince, and what does she get: a prince.  So Tiana, too, does the same thing, but wishes for the money to buy the restaurant. When she is given the option to get the remainder of the money by kissing a frog, she takes it. This can diminish some of the logos of the film because if a parent recognizes this, they may not allow their child to watch the film out of fear that it could instill the wrong message. However the pathos of this argument is strong; humor is used to suspend any judgment viewers may have toward Tiana for kissing a frog (Lunsford 48).

            Princess and the Frog is not the typical Disney film; the princess does not wish and have everything handed to her.  Tiana represents the first African-American Disney princess, and also one of few that has to work tirelessly toward her dream. Despite some controversial use of different races and some potentially negative messages, I felt that the overall message of Princess and the Frog taught kids a valuable lesson: dreams do not come easily, but hard work makes anything possible. I would give this film a four out of five pickles because the logos and pathos behind the argument are convincing for viewers. 

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