Last week, Disney, responding to complaints, pulled a Halloween costume that was branded offensive. The boy’s costume, which depicted Maui, a well respected figure in Polynesian oral tradition, was seen by some Pacific Islanders as akin to blackface; Maui is a character in the upcoming Disney film, Moana. The costume featured brown pants and a long-sleeved shirt covered in tattoos (there was also a skirt made of leaves).
Disney quickly apologized and withdrew the items. “The team behind Moana has taken great care to respect the culture of the Pacific Islanders that inspired the film, and we regret that the Maui costume has offended some. We sincerely apologize and are pulling the costume from our website and stores.”
Disney’s decision to “respect the culture of the Pacific Islanders” stands in stark contrast to its decision to disrespect the culture of Roman Catholics. Specifically, its promotion of “The Real O’Neals,” via its ABC-TV subsidiary, shows how duplicitous the corporation is. Why is Disney showing sensitivity to Pacific Islanders but not Catholics?
How ironic that Disney credits Pacific Islanders for inspiring Moana. And who does it credit with inspiring “The Real O’Neals”? Dan Savage (he is a co-producer of the show). Its second season starts October 11.
As I said in a New York Times op-ed page ad last February, Savage’s “maniacal hatred of Catholicism is so strong that it would be as though David Duke were hired to produce a show about African Americans.” Indeed, his filthy language—aimed at Catholicism—was deemed so bad by the newspaper that it wouldn’t permit me to even use an asterisk in place of letters; his obscene words are a staple in his work.
Disney is obviously not opposed to bigotry, per se. Its selective interest depends on the creed, culture, and color of its characters.