Sixteen years after premiering as Disney’s thirty-third animated film, Pocahontas still incites excitement and wonder within those who wish for nothing more than to be a Disney princess. As Disney’s most notable attempt at political correctness, Pocahontas was created to entertain while attempting to maintain authenticity in regards to historical accuracy and in its fairness of depicting Native American culture. Jacquelyn Kilpatrick, the author of “Disney’s ‘Politically Correct’ Pocahontas”, feels the movie not only failed at being historically accurate but that it fell far short of being politically correct. The article, which appeared in the Fall, 1995 issue of Cineaste, contends the Disney production was duty bound in preserving the integrity of the Pocahontas legend and being both multiculturally and socially inoffensive. However, if being politically correct and constantly factual within any version of media made for entertainment were the standard, we would be left with documentaries and non-fiction. Artistic license allows for a literal account of events to become an engaging, accessible production.
Kilpatrick contends that Disney was ineffective in developing the essence of Pocahontas and was solely concerned with creating a visually stimulating, condensed, romanticized film. “Pocahontas was a real woman who lived during the pivotal time of first contact,” according to Kilpatrick. The film took historical figures and created fictional characters by turning an adolescent girl into a mature, sexualized woman, a mercenary into a “blonde Adonis” and evil villains out of English settlers. Kilpatrick’s
disdain for the method in which Disney used to manipul...
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The essence of Pocahontas’ history is debatable, with very few documented facts. Pocahontas lived over four hundred years ago, and the known facts may also be manipulated. The story John Smith recounted of his own ordeal may have been altered to suit his own needs. The truth of the story may not be the facts given of the story. The essence of Pocahontas’ legend is really what is argued. Some may object to Disney’s version of the tale; however, it is Disney’s version to tell.
Since Disney’s Snow White appeared in 1937, Disney princesses have been a present in pop culture. With the release of new movies frequent and re-release of decades old movies inevitable, a continuous stream keeps Disney princesses in the foreground of adolescent society. It is with the value of entertainment they have been created and as entertainment they should be viewed.
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