Tickets booked a week ago, I slip my red and black Māori Kapa Haka head band on past my head and dorn it fashionably – relevantly around my neck, as a chocker with the intention to rep my country NZ while I watch the much anticipated Disney new release Moana.
I have a back pack filled with vegan snacks and a note pad and pen to jot down moments to recall for this review.
The music starts and I can already hear the familiar pacific sounds and beats that make me feel nostalgic and patriotic.
A proud kiwi (New Zealander) that could be quickly spotted cackling at row J seat 15 as the colossal magical bejewelled hermit crab called Tamotoa who’s character rings a familiar hilarity to that of the infamous Flight of the conchords; but in an Australian audience I’m almost certain none of my neighbouring cinematic melburnians picked up on the dry humour characteristics that were an absolute mirror of the actual Jamaine Clement. But that’s a skip forward, let me rewind and account aspects of this wild’n film from the go.
Enter Moana. Zero fuck boys in sight, Girl. Brows on fleek, thighs thick, wide flat nose, brown skin, wavy hair, stahhp! A princess who knows no eurocentric patriarchy as she presents female agency as normal and paves a bright future for her people as the ultimate wayfinder, fillfilling the unfinished quests of her ansestors.
She sails the fuck out of a traditional Fijian canoe. It’s so dope. A canoe design that would be intellectual property (to note) of iTaukei, the elders or the canoe builders of Fiji, said to be used by Disney without their consent.*Sigh* We should only hope that the owners (canoe builders) will receive appropriate compensation for use of their design. The film has grossed a worldwide total of $328 million to date ..juhhh saying.
Culture vultures aside, the representation of Polynesia was sound. I believe only two of the main on screen cast members were voiced by YT one of which was a non speaking role, Heihei. The rest were PoC. Not just American either -my guy the notorious wife beater Jake the muss included. But actually Temuera Morrison. Not a wife beater assured, but now you mussst watch ‘Once were warriors’ for inside know on the reference incase you did not know. It’s a brilliant movie -non bias- and also Rachel House From New Zealand films ‘Boy’ and ‘Whale Rider’. Brilliant again -non bias- so just hearing my accent on the big screen in a Disney film none the less was the representation I didn’t know I needed. *insert warm feelings*
Due to release dates differing on this side of the hemisphere I did hear critics firsts, to which they claim the films major flaw in terms of third wave feminism presentation, and unfortunately it is agreeably slightly annoying that the creators stooped a little low by reducing the identity of Maui to much less favourable characteristics in a seemingly unnecessary attempt to propell that of Moanas offerings.
As he is portrayed as a cocky, boarderline abusive, selfish douche bag baffon, it seems we have more work to do to deflate a purpetual miss understanding around the awakening of feminism, that is -equality. An idea of including not excluding. Men don’t need to be belittled in order for women or girls to shine in their roles. Much less Maui who is a total boss kid in my culture. #Notmymaui
But these flaws are not too surprising given a history of turning out film after film depicting white people as the default race offering a maximum of one film per ethnicity to showcase people that aren’t white. So with a hella disproportionate representation for records, I’m just going to take what we can get as far as progress is concerned.
Um.. what else, I guess my last most favourable scene (major spoiler) was when Moana interrupts Maui’s haka in response to a violent protest from the underrated villain Hina. Moana realises a green stone she holds throughout her journey should be returned to the goddess Hina, from which it was stolen. The stone that was kept safe in the heart of moanas paua shell necklace around her neck that reminded me of being a little girl collecting the metallic offerings glistening from the the black sandy beaches of NZ.
She commands the waves of the ocean to part and she gracefully walks into the path of a hella scary fiery goddess opposition to which they meet in an all too familiar hongi. The traditional Maori greeting of pressing nose and forehead at the same time with your encounter.
Overall, I felt refreshingly represented. As in -just as ethnically ambiguous as Moana. But my Polynesian is always popp’n.
Make waves babe 🌊