Essay, Research Paper: Pocahontas 


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People today tend to scrutinize every aspect of anything that crosses the silver
screen. The Disney company is always questioned on the reality of their films.
Some see racism, bias, or ignorance toward history. Now for a cartoon that’s
supposed to entertain children, Disney does it the best. They do it so well that
some argue that the people who criticize Disney are the one’s who have the
problem. But when Disney makes a film they have to keep one thing in mind when
they do it. They have to understand that what they show to children those kids
are going to see that, and except that as the truth. Take for example the movie
Pocahontas by Disney. This is a film with many flaws that could eventually lead
kids off the truth behind the real story of Pocahontas. Pocahontas was a real
story with real people. By Disney taking that film and putting their own twist
on it, they could lead an entire generation of kids away from what’s true.
Disney was wrong when they made the movie because what they showed wasn’t the
truth, and by taking history and changing it around is just unethical. Jaquelyn
Kilpatrick tries to make that same point on an essay about relatively the same
thing. Jaquelyn Kilpatrick states, “Instead of progress in depicting Native
Americans, this film takes a step backwards – a very dangerous step because it
is so carefully glossed as ‘authentic’ and ‘respectful’” (74).
Kilpatrick points out that Pocahontas was supposed to be the most “PC” of
all the Disney movies ever. But the backbone of her thesis is that it didn’t
pay attention to any of the facts about Pocahontas’ life because it was so
politically correct. She also argues, “For one thing, she was not a voluptuos
young woman when she met John Smith but a ten- to twelve-year-old girl, and John
Smith was a thirty-something mercenary who more resembled a brick than a blonde
Adonis” (74). Disney not only clouded the story of a young girl who was
kidnapped and raped by English settlers, but they even portrayed her looks
totally wrong. “Besides her beautiful ‘more Asian’ eyes, he gave her a
body with a wasp waist, sexy hips and legs, and breasts that are truly
impressive” (76). She also went on to explain the misrepresentation of the
English settlers. She points out “ the English in the film are extremely
one-dimensional in their bumbling greed” (76). Disney not all stereotyped all
English as money hungry bandits, but they also stereotyped all Native American
as ready to fall head over heels for the first white man who comes their way.
Kilpatrick goes on saying “they changed her age, her body, and gave her a
motive for her actions that boils down to going gaga over the first white man
she sees” (74). But the one point that Kilpatrick stated over an over was that
Disney changed the truth behind the story of Pocahontas. Pocahontas was changed
to leave a smile on everyone’s face. The story of Pocahontas wasn’t a happy
love story; it was a tragic story of a young girl. Pocahontas was a girl who was
kidnapped and raped by the English settlers. She was then married to a tobacco
planter named John Rolf and went to England, only to die of smallpox on the
journey to return home. Personally, I agree with every point that Kilpatrick
presented in her argument. The story of Pocahontas wasn’t Disney’s type
story, but Disney turned it into one for the sake of money. Disney saw an open
market for a Native American story, and they went for it sacrificing history for
a dollar. Disney wanted to do something for a culture that has never been
honored before, the Native Americans. But they did it in exchange for history.
Native Americans where honored but not through the true story of Pocahontas.
Pocahontas and Disney’s Pocahontas are two different people. But in the eyes
of children everywhere when they think of a Native American story they’ll
think of Disney’s. It’s a sad thing that something like a movie could change
something like the real story of Pocahontas. Out there is a generation of kids
who went to see a real good movie. But the movie that was supposed to be the
truth really wasn’t. The movie was something twisted and molded to satisfy an
audience that wouldn’t be happy with violence, and unattractive people.
Kilpatrick made a point with this article. The point being that this movie could
have a much larger effect than expected. So if you ever ask a little kid who saw
the movie what happened to Pocahontas, and you get “she met John Smith and
fell in love” well then Disney has succeeded. Because that kid represents a
million others who have no clue what really happened to the Powhatan people back
in the early seventeenth century.
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