Disney is planning a new movie featuring its first African princess. Too bad she’s a white girl.
Let’s say you’re in charge of green-lighting films at Disney. So far, any movies you’ve made involving anyone other than white Americans are either outrageously colonialist (Tarzan, Pocahontas), feature only animals (The Lion King) or have your only black lead appear as a frog for two-thirds of the film (The Princess and the Frog). Someone suggests you should make a movie featuring your first princess from Africa.
And she’s white.
How is this a good idea? Someone at Disney obviously thought so, because The Princess of North Sudan is a real thing that is really happening and it will tell the true story of a white man from Virginia who “claimed” a piece of Africa so his white daughter could be a real princess.
Jeremiah Heaton’s daughter Emily told him she wanted to be a real princess, so he did what any good father would: He claimed and colonialized a disputed piece of Sudanese territory into his own kingdom so his daughter could become royalty. The story spread to Disney, who decided to buy the rights.
Bad idea. Judgment of the film was swift and harsh, calling out Disney for glorifying colonialism and racism.
Bet Disney wouldn't make Princess of North Scotland, about a black dad annexing "unclaimed" land for his daughter. #PrincessOfNorthSudan
— The Claire Witch Project (@ClaireRousseau) May 14, 2015
According to Entertainment Weekly, screenwriter Stephany Folsom disputed Twitter’s general disdain for the project in a series of tweets that have since been deleted.
“There is no planting a flag in Sudan or making a white girl the princess of an African country. That’s gross,” she reportedly wrote, adding that she agreed with the complaints and “wouldn’t write that story.”