After 9 months in the making, here I present: Southeast Asians discuss, through many detailed presentations, why Raya and the Last Dragon is a prime example of Disney using “culture” as a marketing tool without making sincere efforts at representation!
This is a project that began last year after Southeast Asian opinions about the movie were drowned out by non-Southeast Asian ones. Most significantly, there was the case of Lindsay Ellis comparing Raya to Avatar: The Last Airbender, which generated a backlash that eventually led to her quitting YouTube (though the presentations here were recorded MONTHS before she made that announcement).
It’s an issue when lukewarm takes like Lindsay’s got all the exposure compared to actual Southeast Asian critiques of the movie, which had much more substantial things to say, so at the urging of Chinese Indonesian writer Audris Candra (who slid into my inbox), I decided to lend my platform to a group of Southeast Asians to thoroughly express their thoughts.
I have gained so much from hosting this project; my mind was BLOWN as I edited the presentations. The final product ended up being longer than the Snyder cut (this is only part 1, you can find part 2 in the video description), but I promise you that every presentation is worth it! You will learn so much! There's so much good content on Southeast Asian story structure vs Western ones, Southeast Asian dragons, martial arts, weapons, languages, food, fashion - JUST WATCH THE PRESENTATIONS AND HAVE YOUR MIND BLOWN TOO. All proceeds from this video and its part 2 will be donated to Southeast Asian charities, which you can support too through the links in the descriptions!
Saw Raya and the Last Dragon with a friend today and REALLY loved it!!
Give me a warrior princess any day and I’ll eat it up (also we got not only one but TWO warrior princesses? 😳)
Check out more of my work on other platforms!
Early concept art of Raya and Namaari by Ami Thompson
drew this after I watched the movie and almost forgot to post ahhh
The third and final part of the Southeast Asians Roast Raya and the Last Dragon project is out!! In it, our speakers discuss how the queercoding in Raya is inherently whitewashed and does not consider Southeast Asia's unique queer culture and history.
Note 1: Although the speakers talk about both the historical and modern queer cultures of countries like Indonesia, Vietnam, and Singapore, they are only given as examples of how different non-Western queer cultures can be and how colonialism has impacted them. This video is not meant to be a comprehensive overview of queer culture in Southeast Asia overall, and that is why countries like Thailand and the Philippines were not discussed (we didn’t have enough volunteers from those countries)
Note 2: The speaker who begins at 1:37 is NOT ME, but twin Indonesian comic artists JesnCin. Somehow many people have made this mistake even though JesnCin explicitly say they’re not me.