Disney apologises for Moana costume

The costume was criticized for cultural appropriation.
The costume was criticized for cultural appropriation.

Disney has pulled a child's costume from shelves after it was deemed to be cultural appropriation.

The child's costume is based on the character of Maui in the upcoming movie Moana. Maui, voiced by Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson, is a Polynesian demigod in the film.

The costume included brown fabric to signify the character's darker skin tone, leading some to label the look as brownface.

Disney has since apologised for the costume, which it will no longer be selling.

"The team behind 'Moana' has taken great care to respect the cultures of the Pacific Islands that inspired the film, and we regret that the Maui costume has offended some," Disney said in a statement released Wednesday. "We sincerely apologize and are pulling the costume from our website and stores."

Moana was lauded for its female lead and representation of Pacific Islanders until the costume recently appeared on the Disney store website.

People took to Twitter to express their outrage, declaring, "Our brown skin is NOT a costume," while another wrote, "Some islander tattoos are very sacred, this costume is literally mocking our traditions".

In the film, a teenage girl Moana, voiced by Hawaiian native Auli'i Cravalho, joins forces with the demigod Maui on a dangerous mission to save her island tribe.

But excitement turned to outrage when the costume emerged, featuring tattoos, a rope necklace, "island-style skirt" and "photorealistic teeth art appliqués", according to the product description.

Some took offense to the colored "skin" being used as a literal costume, while others said it was disrespectful to many Polynesian cultures, where tattoos are sacred.

It was also noted that Maui is an actual demigod in Polynesian mythology and not a character created by Disney.

One user tweeting under the account @TaleiFiji wrote: "Dear Disney, our brown skin is not a costume. Get outta here with that cr*p. Sincerely, a furious brown skinned Pacific Islander."

Grace Darienzo chimed in, tweeting: "This is just a mess. Brown skin and tattoos that are sacred to a certain culture? That's not a costume."

This isn't the film's first controversy. In the run-up to Moana's release on November 23, it has already divided audiences, receiving both praise and harsh criticism.

Disney was lauded for hiring people of color to voice its characters.

In addition to 14-year-old Cravalho as the title character, Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson, who is of Samoan descent, was chosen to voice Maui.

But others took issue with the way Maui was represented.

Jenny Salesa, a member of New Zealand's parliament, wrote a Facebook post in June contrasting the attractiveness of three Polynesian actors to the cartoon character, who she said looked like a "half pig half hippo."

- Daily Mail

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