Moana. Lilo and Stich. Jango Fett.
The three examples above have one thing in common.
They are some of the ONLY examples of accurate and non racist Polynesian representation in mainstream media.
And one character who gets mere minutes of screen time.
Polynesian people are an after thought in society and media. Our land is “profitable” our culture “entertaining”. We are viewed like relics in a museum, pretty too look at, but never worth more than a glance. Our soul is stripped away and our culture made “ palatable￼” for tourists. We are seen as accessories to vacations. After thoughts.
Can you name three Polynesian actors? Without saying Jason Momoa or the Rock? Did you know Polynesians were the first people to discover Antarctica? Did you know Hawai’i was a formal kingdom? Did you know the Dole company, along with white settlers, overthrew the Kingdom of Hawai’i with the help of the US? Did you know most Polynesian native languages were ban by White Settlers? And only reinstated in the mid 1900s?
How much do you not know? And this isn’t a slight. I mean it genuinely. How has the media effected your view of Polynesia and it’s people? And If you know a lot, I admire you! Genuinely. But you can’t ignore the gap in media. This is not mainstream knowledge.
Which brings me to Star Wars specifically.
Temuera Morrison, a Māori actor, was cast to play Jango Fett in “Star Wars: Attack of the Clones.” In this movie, he plays a Mandalorian bounty hunter who is payed to be a Clone donor. Using his DNA, an entire army is created. Clones of him, known as “Clone Troopers”.
Despite being Clones of a character Temuera Morrison plays, Clones have NEVER looked Māori in their main media. (The Clone Wars)
I genuinely. Do not think this was done on purpose AT FIRST. Genuinely. HOWEVER! Unintentional bias and ignorance is STILL bias and ignorance.
When you get a group of character designers and they’re all white, and they all grew up AS white people, in a world that provides the privilege of ignorance to white people, you will get ignorance. Unintentional or not. It is still racism. It’s still white washing. It’s still feeding ignorance around Polynesians.
Ignorance about Polynesians is what creates this.
Ignorance. That went unchecked. Ignorance that turned into internal bias. Internal bias that turned into racism.
How Temuera actually looks was an after thought. His round face and hooded eyes, were an after thought. His accent and body type was an after thought.
This after thought spun again and again and again, and now, the Smartest Clone is the lightest. And the Dumbest Clone is the darkest. And their faces are angular, beyond recognition.
This is racism. Plain and simple.
So how do you help?
LISTEN TO POLYNESIANS!!! Learn about our people, learn about our actors, learn, learn, learn.
Prevent ignorance by listening. Prevent internal bias by learning and unlearning.
And speak up. Call Disney out on their racism! Call out character designers on their white washing. Call out artists for their white washing.
And lastly, Have difficult conversations. No one likes to be ignorant. But sometimes we all are, and unchecked, that ignorance can light the fire of racism and harm. And it will spread, and grow, until it’s a wildfire burning everything in its path. That fire burns my people, burns me. Hurts my heart, my soul, my perception of myself.
Do not let Polynesian people be an after thought
870 notes · View notes