Disney’s Moana Is Facing Racist Allegations

Moana Maui

To think that the film Moana is a racist endeavor in and of itself is pretty much the height of ridiculousness. With the film focusing on the first Polynesian princess in Disney history, as well as possessing a story that is rich in the culture of her racial background, Moana feels like a step forward for a company that's been know to have a missed step or two in its history. And yet, the Halloween costumes for the film have caused a bit of a stir, as the Maui bodysuit may lead to some uncomfortable children's parties.

At least, that's what io9 is thinking, as they've brought up the rather obvious dilemma presented when dealing with a child who wants to dress as Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson's demigod character from the film. The costume is a pitch perfect replica of Maui's appearance, which is also where the allegations of racism come in.

His physique, his costume, and even his tattoos are all replicated, waiting for an eager young Moana fan to don the costume and have some fun. Unfortunately, his exact skin tone is also mocked up, which leaves lighter skinned fans of the character in a bit of a bind. Take a look at the outfit in question, courtesy of a photo from the Disney Store's online catalog, below.

Moana Maui Costume

As you'll see, the big issue with the Moana inspired costume is, of course, the fact that if a child any lighter than the costume puts it on, it's going to look a bit awkward. In fact, it looks like it could lead to the uncomfortable question of whether you let a lighter skinned child go out in public in a very tanned look, or do you engage in what iO9 has basically pointed out as blackface? Either way, it isn't exactly the sort of issue Disney would have wanted to have to address with what was supposed to have been a harmless costume for the Halloween season.

There are no easy answers when it comes to the issue of the Maui costume tie-in to Moana. On one hand, children should be encouraged to dress as any character they want to be, but on the other hand, you would think Disney would be a bit more attuned to this potential drama. After all of the marketing pitfalls they've suffered throughout their marketing of Marvel Studio films, as well as the previous complaints about Moana itself, you would think that the powers that be would have run this idea through a couple more hands before executing.

We here at Cinema Blend hope that the conversation that's started surrounding this issue is civil, and leads to a solution that makes all parties involved happy. Moana hits theaters on November 23rd.

Mike Reyes
Senior Movies Contributor

CinemaBlend's James Bond (expert). Also versed in Large Scale Aggressors, time travel, and Guillermo del Toro. He fights for The User.