I saw Moana today, and there was so very much to love about it. But I think I’m just going to talk about one thing for now. And that’s the “princess upgrade.” (Well, that’s what I’m calling it.)
Moana has the usual Disney heroine trope of “I want more than being a princess/royalty/whatever!” (It’s a good trope for a fairy tale.) But with a lot of Disney princesses, there’s really nothing for them to DO as princesses. They exist, and that’s good and right for the kingdom, your prince will come and evil will be defeated, the end. There’s no actual ruling or governance or anything you have to be trained for, don’t be silly!
Moana is the daughter of a chief, and the main point her father uses to keep her at home and out of trouble is saying, “hey, you’re gonna be chief someday, here are your people, you’ve got to take care of them!” And the next montage shows her…doing exactly that. We see her making decisions in day-to-day life, talking to her people, doing her job to keep the island and her people happy and prosperous. We see her, in short, being trained to be a leader. Her birth position is both a job and a serious responsibility that has to be performed right to keep things good. Destiny, of course, has some extra things in mind for her, but those things are also in the best interest of her people. They’re tasks that need to be done, and she was the person picked for the job.
That was EXTREMELY refreshing to see. And that alone would have made the movie worth it to me, but again, there was SO MUCH MORE TO LOVE.