It’s Monday and in the back of my mind, I knew I had to post for the blog. But right now, I’m sweating in considerably breathable clothes. It’s April, and summer in my darling tropical country. I always say I prefer summer over winter, but goodness knows I love spring the most. Joke’s on me, because in the Philippines, it’s just wet or dry. Sometimes both, which is the worst of them all.
(from and by http://daniellesylvan.tumblr.com/post/158911515858/i-will-carry-you-here-in-my-heart-to-remind-me // this print is available from their Etsy store here https://www.etsy.com/listing/510076362/stingray-ocean-hair-poster-art-print please consider supporting them // credits to the creator)
Minutes prior to writing this, Sylvester shared a Moana clip with me, and I wanted to watch it again for the (insert a number bigger than five because I already lost count) time. I tempered it for a while by listening to the soundtrack, much like I do most Disney movies because I’m much too lazy to dig into our collection to dust them off and insert the disc into the player. Also, the soundtracks are the best. I’m still bitter at Lin-Manuel Miranda not winning the Oscar, okay?
(Great, now this is gonna turn into a Moana review/shitpost. I cannot help myself, it’s too damn good.)
In lieu of Ghost in the Shell tanking the box office, probably due to shitty publicity because of Hollywood and its insistent whitewashing, I’d like to share how I felt in the first five minutes of Moana. Sitting in a dark cinema, my expectations were pretty damn high. Let’s face it, Frozen was not as good as Tangled, and I will fight anyone who says otherwise. So Moana being about a Polynesian girl whose features are as familiar as the person next to me, from a village as nostalgic as the ones in pictures so old, everyone in it is brown, sailing in a canoe that can be manned (womanned? Lol) by 1-2 persons, in the vast and still unnamed but definitely the Pacific Ocean, my expectations were about as high as the Twin Towers. And boy, those first five minutes? Met, and blew them out of the water (no pun intended, but appreciated nonetheless).
Goosebumps were raised and eyes pretty wet from seeing the people I didn’t learn enough about in history class, but people that looked like me and my heart was just elated. Of course, I held off my tears because I don’t like public spectacles of emotion. But I loved Moana to bits and pieces. Yes, we do have an insane fascination for coconuts, and use them for everything. No, we don’t usually keep pigs and chickens as pets, but we do love them (as inihaw na manok and inihaw na lechon hehehe). No, we don’t spend as much time being obsessed with the beach and the ocean, but we do have a lot of them, and statistically speaking, it’s inevitable that we’ll like it. Yes, we usually have dark, thick, curly hair, but sadly most people prefer to straighten them (to look more like westerners, I suppose. Same goes with our sunkissed skin, they like to “whiten” them, which I personally think is a stupid idea).
I know people will have opinions and preferences, they wouldn’t have appreciated it as much as I did. But seeing my people represented, not as little brown Americans, not as a person serving crew overseas and allegedly stealing jobs from white people, and not as criminals or beggars or benevolent pets. My people as people. (Of course, Hollywood has yet to make a movie about white people “discovering” countries, but I’m not holding my breath.)
I have nothing against the alleged whitewashing in films, particularly that of American adaptations of Japanese stories. I doubt the Japanese mind it so much, either, cos you know where “being offended” is such a big deal? In the West, particularly America, where it was coined because people didn’t know enough to respect people as people, and not as a color or a physical trait. Asians, despite being from the largest continent in the face of the Earth, are quite happy being called Asians, despite being the most diverse population, because we know enough not to hate people who don’t look like us or act like us. In Pre-Hispanic Southeast Asia, these neighboring countries were damn neighborly and traded goods, culture, food, and everything in between, not because we offered to “teach” them about our religion or education or clothes, but because we respected who they were and where they were from, not wanting to change them to be like us, but simply appreciating the differences between our peoples. But then everything changed when the Fire Nation attacked.
But in all seriousness, I love Moana because they attempted to tell the story about a people, and they succeeded. They represented us very well, and I so wanted them to win an Oscar for it. Sad that they didn’t, but I don’t know if I want a so-white Academy of people deeming it worthy of a gold statue of a naked man anyway. In my heart, it is amazing and awesome, and I will watch it till the day I grow old and die.
I would very much appreciate if Hollywood would stop the whitewashing, and just hire real people for the real stories, but they’re also making another Transformers movie, and I just cannot with any more Michael Bay stuff. Seriously. Stahp. There’s a world filled with stories to tell, and I doubt we need another splattering of half-naked blondes, American flags, thinks-they’re-funny-but-not-really comedic guy, and as many explosions as there are lens flares in a J. J. Abrams movie. That being said, I still like J. J. Abrams infinitely more than I like Michael Bay.
PS: every other time I’ve watched Moana, I’ve cried. Much like I cry every time I listen to Evermore from the new Beauty and the Beast OST. But that’s another story.
PPS: they’re making a huge mistake not having songs in the live-action Mulan remake, and though I will go and see it when it comes out, I can say with all confidence that I will like it much less than the original movie.
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