Reign of Confusion

October 23, 2012
DID DISNEY DITCH ITS FIRST-EVER LATINA PRINCESS, OR MERELY WIDEN HER HERITAGE AMID RECENT CONTROVERSY? Disney's first-ever Latina princess has held reign in the court of public opinion barely a week and she's already causing an uprising! Princess Sofia of Enchancia will be officially introduced next month, when she makes her debut in Sofia the First: Once Upon a Princess, an original movie airing November 18 on Disney TV and Disney Junior.
Although Sofia has been reported to be Disney's first Latina princess, an assertion made by Sofia the First executive producer Jamie Mitchell in a seemingly random moment during a studio tour, her fair complexion and blue eyes have some wondering if the new character is being whitewashed. "She has been deemed 'not Latino enough,' and since she is a mere child we can safely assume she didn't bleach her skin like Sammy Sosa or Michael Jackson," declares Hispanically Speaking News. Influential Latino organization the National Council of La Raza is questioning another angle to Disney's princess debut: Why isn't the studio promoting Princess Sofia's Hispanic heritage and the character in general more? "If [Disney] wanted her to be our first Latina princess, they would have been shouting it out themselves," says influential Latina blogger Ana Flores on Babble. "[Disney has] done such a good job in the past when they've introduced Native American, African-American and Asian princesses," La Raza spokeswoman Lisa Navarrete tells the Associated Press. "They made a big deal out of it, and there was a lot of fanfare, but now they're sort of scrambling. It's unusual because Disney has been very good about Latino diversity." Now, just as Princess Sofia is quickly becoming about as popular as Jar Jar Binks at Comic Con, Disney adds another bruise to the brouhaha with a statement that she actually may not be what was previously claimed.

'She has been deemed "not Latino enough," and since she is a mere child we can safely assume she didn't bleach her skin like Sammy Sosa or Michael Jackson.' 

-- Hispanically Speaking News

Sofia the First co-executive producer/writer Craig Gerber took to the Sofia the First Facebook recently to address the controversy, posting that the character is actually "a mixed-heritage princess" whose birth parents hail from territories inspired by Spain and Scandinavia. Sofia, however, was born in the “make-believe 'melting pot' kingdom” of Enchancia. "Her mixed heritage and blended family are a reflection of what many children today experience," says Gerber. Nancy Kanter, senior vice president of original programming and general manager of Disney Junior, helped reinforce Disney's seemingly more adamant drive that Sofia is not technically just Latina, posting on the same Facebook page: "…Sofia is a fairytale girl who lives in a fairytale world. All our characters come from fantasy lands that may reflect elements of various cultures and ethnicities but none are meant to specifically represent those real world cultures." Although the week of debates surrounding Princess Sofia did spur national coverage and conversations about the importance of Latina role models and how our heritage is portrayed in the mainstream media, we still remain totally mixed up about Princess Sofia's mixed-heritage!

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