Hands up if the title of this post made you break out into song!
Hi there, it’s three again. As erm suggested, I haven’t been around much thanks to a ridiculously busy life which I 100% brought upon myself. *sigh*
Anyway, a couple of months ago something highly disturbing happened to me: Someone close to me, someone I considered to be a friend, said something unforgivable.
“I didn’t really like Moana,” she said, probably sneering (it was in a groupchat). “I didn’t like any of the songs and I just found it boring.”
My response was something along the lines of “well, then I guess we can’t be friends anymore.” She adorably thought I was joking. NOPE.
I was surprised, in that moment, chatting on facebook during a Stats lecture, how much it upset me that someone in my life dared to not like Moana. I haven’t cared that much about people liking the stuff I like since I was a teenager. And even now, months later, I still get angry when I think about it. “I didn’t like any of the songs” and “It was boring” is not a legitimate opinion and she should be ashamed.
So in an effort to vent my frustration about that complete lack of a review, I am here today to argue a point which I believe wholeheartedly: Moana is the greatest Disney princess of all time. Okay, that may be an overstatement. Instead I’ll say that she embodies all of the best characteristics of my favourite Disney princesses, combined into one superpower princess. Let’s go!
An Innocent Warrior
LOOK HOW EFFING CUTE SHE IS.
Anyway, from this scene onwards this movie is pure magic. A part of that comes from the fact that this scene occurs when she’s a small child. It warms my heart to think that the Ocean saw the goodness in someone who can’t even speak yet. The Ocean chose her. And that’s something that she struggles to reconcile throughout the rest of the movie.
When else have we been given a quick glimpse of a princess’s true inner power from when they were a child?
Hey, look, it’s my second favourite Princess, Tiana!
When I say inner power, by the way, I’m not talking about an ability to make gumbo. Tiana’s power (in my opinion) is that she uses food as a way to bring people together. Anyone can cook (according to Gusteau), but not anyone can bring people from far and wide to get a taste of their food. It’s about people, not recipes, for Tiana and her dad.
Moana’s inner power, the one identified by the Ocean so early on, is that she’s a warrior. She is willing to fight for what she knows to be right, even if fighting involves saving a turtle and missing the pretty pink shell. Later, she fights to restore the heart, and her warrior’s resolve is what gets her through.
Both Moana and Tiana are marked by these traits, identifiable from early childhood, and stop at nothing to live out the path that they are destined for, even at the expense of their enjoyment of life and their relationships. That’s kind of a badass thing for a woman to get to do, IMHO.
We Know the Way
Moana knows her whole life that she is destined to be chief. This, of course, is different from the path given to her by the Ocean, and the one she feels in her gut that she needs to follow. What really impresses me about Moana’s journey is that she manages to take two seemingly incompatible destinies and make them one. Moana is the Chief who brought the village back to the ocean.
Now, there’s a comparison to be made here with Moana and Simba. That could be an article of its own, so I’m just going to ignore that for now.
Instead, I want to talk about a more recent example: Elsa. Elsa also had two incompatible destinies: she was born with terrifying power, and also destined to be queen. With much, much more inner struggle, Elsa manages to combine the two and become Queen without sacrificing her powers.
The reason I love this is because it shows true leadership ability. These women didn’t just come of age – they proved leadership ability by bringing something of themselves to the role of Chief/Queen.
Sails to Te Fiti
Moana is a badass. She ties up her hair and barrels forward into challenges. I don’t think we’ve seen a Disney Princess come so naturally into her own as an action hero. Bravery, adventurousness, and physical prowess are all things Moana has from the start, which is new and wonderful.
Mulan holds a place in my heart as the first Disney Princess to run into battle. Both Moana and Mulan do something that is uncommon for female characters anywhere – they make bold, self-sacrificing, even violent decisions to save Motonui/China.
Know Who You Are
Moana sees Te Ka, not as a massive fiery monster, but as someone who has had her heart stolen. It’s that same compassion that the Ocean saw in her at the beginning – the “innocent” in “innocent warrior” – which allowed Moana to see this. Maui certainly never would have. (Don’t get me wrong, I love Maui. I’m just saying, there’s a reason why the Ocean chose her.)
Just as Moana was entrusted with the Heart of Te Fiti, Rapunzel was entrusted with the Sun’s Gift.
I’m just choosing to interpret it this way, by the way. We’ve talked about it before. I like to think that this All-Knowing Flower (or the Sun to Moana’s Ocean) knew that Rapunzel was a good egg, and that’s why it let her house its gifts, because she got to decide how to dish them out.
Both Rapunzel and Moana create a lot of good by being innocent and seeing the best in others. Now, this is nothing groundbreaking – female characters always get stuck being virginal and pure – but it still shouldn’t be underestimated. Goodness is a real superpower, especially when it comes with healing abilities/an artifact which will save the world. These movies are acknowledging the power of goodness, which I am all for.
Moana Paints with All the Colours of the Wind
All images are from DisneyScreenCaps.com, as always.