Twitter was thrown into a huge debate after one Netflix user drew attention to the description of Disney’s classic tale, Pocahontas.
Dr. Adrienne Keene, who writes and campaigns for a Native Appropriations site, shared a screenshot from her Netflix account, showing the description: ‘An American Indian woman is supposed to marry the village’s best warrior, but she yearns for something more — and soon meets Capt. John Smith.’
She shared a series of thoughts and opinions surrounding this description, pointing out that it largely plays on both race and gender stereotyping.
Adrienne said, ‘It overly sexualises the film, and only positions Pocahontas in relation to her romantic options, not as a human being, you know, doing things.’
Looking at the film descriptions of other Disney stories, she noticed that love interests – although part of the plot – weren’t included in the blurb. For example, there’s no mention of Jane in Tarzan’s description, which reads: ‘After being shipwrecked off the African coast, a lone child grows up in the wild and is destined to become lord of the jungle.’
Adrienne points out on her blog, quite righty, that ‘The men get to have adventures, fight people, save things, be king of the jungle…Pocahontas yearns for a white dude.’
Her series of tweets received hundreds of retweets and favourites, and after news outlets took notice, the story quickly went viral. Oh, the power of the internet.
Any die-hard Disney fans, or actually anybody who has seen the film, will know that there’s so much more to the story. There’s so much more to Pocahontas’ character than her love interests.
Although Netflix didn’t release an official statement, they did reach out to Adrienne privately, who tweeted the email she had received.
It read: ‘We do our best to accurately portray the plot and tone of the content we’re presenting, and in this case you were right to point out that we could do better. The synopsis has been updated to better reflect Pocahontas’ active role and to remove the suggestion that John Smith was her ultimate goal.’
The new blurb says, ‘A young American Indian girl tries to follow her heart and protect her tribe when settlers arrive and threaten the land she loves.’
Who says that social media can’t change anything?