Essay on Analysis Of Disney 's Pocahontas By William Shakespeare

Essay on Analysis Of Disney 's Pocahontas By William Shakespeare

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It is commonly known that Disney’s Pocahontas is often presented as one of the more progressive films in relation to women’s rights as one of its main characters is a powerful woman of color, even known amongst those who have never even seen this film. However it presents many stereotypes about Native Americans that this group continually work towards ridding in order to restore their humanity and demand respect. Some of these stereotypes include positing Native Americans as “savages,” or the idea of the “good” versus the “bad” Native, the women as exotic, and the possession of mystical powers. This unjustly and prejudicially places these Natives as the “Other,” creating an “us versus them” dichotomy, in which they lack in power.
            One of the biggest indicators of the film’s prejudicial biases and support for the idea that Natives are savages is the song sung in the film called “Savages” that sings the lyrics “what can you expect from filthy little heathens? Their whole disgusting race is like a curse, their skin 's a hellish red, they 're only good when dead, they 're vermin,” which is sung by the white characters clenching an array of different weapons. Disney then attempts to juxtapose savage with the gentler and seemingly honorable adjective, “noble,” when describing Pocahontas and The Chief. However, this only reaffirms the idea that she is merely a “good” Indian, amongst a collective group of “bad” ones, like Kocoum, and results in “historical amnesia and the dehumanization of real people who still exist” (Authentic History Center, 2012). Therefore, the differences between the white men and the Natives in this film become hypercontrasted, especially with statements like “they’re not like you and me, which means the...

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... not until a gust of colorful wind passes through that Pocahontas can all of a sudden communicate and understand John, as if this power only affected the mystical “Indian,” because it is the white man’s language that is deemed more superior than Pocahontas’s own language.
Not only does the physical appearances of the Native Americans in this film adhere to stereotypes, such as the repeated use of feathers and war paint, the behaviors and comments of the characters also perpetuate the commonly adapted ideas that Native Americans are savages and mystical, unhumanlike beings, while their women are sex goddesses. These stereotypes are ultimately dangerous because they justify continued violence, including sexual violence, against this community, and makes these acts invisible, as if they are merely a phenomenon of the past or only existent within these types of movies.

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