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Obama, Louisiana Symbolism In The The Princess & The Frog: Part 1


Obama, Louisiana Symbolism In The The Princess & The Frog: Part 1

Disney’s film “The Frog and The Princess” has generated great  interest in some quarters of the general public due to the fact it would be the studio’s first animation film with Black lead characters. The movie also generated “buzz” in the entertainment world for it was Disney’s return to “pencil and ink” “hand- drawn “animation or Cel Animation after a five year absence from that method, since its feature “Home on The Range. The Princess and the Frog according to one source is “Disney’s 49th feature in Walt Disney’s animated line”.

 It was presented for limited release on November 25, 2009 in Los Angeles and New York.  Originally scheduled for general release in the United States on December25, 2009, it was instead released on December 11, 2009.

The story was a 1920’s New Orleans re-working of the Brother Grimm’s tale Frog Prince. As of January 25, 2009 the movie has grossed nearly $100 million dollars in the United States alone. The Frog and the Princess, though not on par with some of 2009’s other animation releases such as 20th Century Fox’s Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel (2009), which grossed over $200 million, it has turned a good profit for Disney.

There are several intertwining themes involved in this film:  the election of Barack Obama, the date of release for this film, and the Haiti- Louisiana connection.

As many have observed, it is no mere coincidence that Disney produced their first feature animation with an African-American/Black person as the lead when America has its first Black president Barack Hussein Obama.

As we dig a little deeper we can see that there are more than just one instance where acknowledgement is given to Barack Obama.

First the day the film was released, December 11th when matched other historical events that occurred on that same date point to several acknowledgements to Barack Obama developing legacy:

December 11, 1830 King Kamehameha V of Hawaii is born. He would rule Hawaii, Obama’s place of birth for 9 years and 11 days.  King Kamehameha of Hawaii would pass away also on December 11th in 1872.

December 11, 1872 P.B.S. Pinchback became the first Black governor in the United States, when he was sworn in as the governor of Louisiana.

 Dec 11, 1917 Jazz begins its migration to Chicago, Illinois.  Music great Joe “King” Oliver leads this movement by resettling in Chicago there to be followed by other jazz luminaries such as Louis Armstrong, later on.

Dec 11, 1964  The great Sam Cooke dies.  Cooke known for many classics such as “You Send Me”, “Chain Gang” and “Change is Gonna Come”,  songs which were featured on many Barack Obama inspired campaign emails and other publications. Obama’s referenced  Sam Cooke’s song during his victory speech after winning the presidency: “It’s been a long time coming, but tonight, because of what we did on this day, in this election, at this defining moment, change has come to America.”    

Kerry Candaele  on November 7th  2008 in the Huffington Post that :

“In October, 1963, Cooke and his band tried to book rooms at a “whites only” motel in Shreveport, Louisiana, but instead were arrested for disturbing the peace.”

Other “reminders” of Obama, include the presence of Eudora the mother of the main character Tiana. Eudora(voiced by Oprah) like Marian Robinson(mother of Michelle Obama), is a widow, who was married to a hard working Black man who always encouraged his daughter’s dreams and provided for his family. She lives to see her daughter achieve her dream and continues to be a support in her life.

Disney’s decision to produce a feature animation with Black characters in the leading roles was welcomed by many and seen by some as long overdue.  Disney has been the subject of criticism for the prominent role that Voodoo and what may seem to be stereotypical portrayals of Blacks in the Frog and the Princess; this author argues for a more in depth analysis.

What we find in the movie on one level is the backdrop of Black History, which is not visibly seen and has to be decoded.  The references to Barack Obama, the first Black president and Louisiana history are two of those “historical backdrops”.  The official release date of the film in the United States on December 11, 2009 coincides with events in both Louisiana and the ascendancy of Barack Obama.

Starting in chronological order:

  • The first Disney animation featuring Black lead characters with its setting in Louisiana, was released on the date that: Louisiana’s and America’s first Black governor P.B.S. Pinchback took office.  (December 11, 1872*Other sources cite December 9th , 1872)

 

  • The acknowledged migration of Jazz from Louisiana to Chicago. Chicago being the place Obama meets his wife Michelle and develops as a politician. (December 11, 1917)

 

  • The death of Sam Cooke on December 11, 1964, who’s “Change is Gonna Come” becomes a theme song of sorts for the Obama presidential campaign and is used by many of his supporters to inspire and motivate others to their cause.  Cooke is denied lodging in Shreveport, Louisiana in 1963 and is arrested for challenging the injustice. Obama also references this song in his victory speech. ” Change is Gonna Come” was recorded December 21, 1963 and released on December 22, 1964.

December 11, 1830 is also the earth day of King Kamehameha V former ruler of Hawaii, the birthplace of Obama. December 11, 1872 is also the date that he passed away.

There are other references to Louisiana history which will be dealt with in upcoming articles as well fully exploring the Haiti-Louisiana connection.

©VisionThought 2010. All Rights Reserved.

 

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