The image: When Disney released The Princess and the Frog in 2009, it marked the first time a black princess had starred in one of the media giant's animated movies. But because the princess, Tiana, began the film as a maid, critics attacked Disney for reinforcing old stereotypes. Today, it looks like Disney has stepped in it again, plastering Tiana on a package of watermelon-flavored Dig N' Dips. (If you've forgotten, those are the "bland sugar sticks that you lick, then dunk in flavored sugar powder," says Briana Lopes at The Grio.) The stereotype that black people love watermelons "originated with efforts to justify slavery," says Lisa Wade at Sociological Images. "Black people were simple, slavery proponents argued, so a delicious watermelon was enough to make them happy." To make matters worse, vanilla-flavored Dig N' Dips feature the white princess Aurora of Sleeping Beauty. (See the full image below.)
The reaction: Oof, says Erin Gloria Ryan at Jezebel. The packaging "either winks at or is completely oblivious of the stereotype that black people love watermelon." But labeling it "racism" is a "bit extreme" and "hypersensitive," says Brande Victorian at MadameNoire. Indeed, "it's hard to believe that anyone would intentionally make this kind of insensitive mistake," says Thembi Ford at Clutch. Though at the very least, it "should have set off an alarm" somewhere at Disney. Judge for yourself:
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Russia's giant spy ship was a high-tech disaster waiting to happen
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- America created the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria? Meet the ISIS 'truthers'
- How American businessmen are ruining American business — and the U.S. economy
- 10 things you need to know today: September 2, 2014
- The Obama era is over. The presidency continues.
- On ISIS, neocons and liberal hawks have a 'boy who cried wolf' problem
- 11 scientific studies that will restore your faith in humanity
- The 10 best networking tips for people who hate networking
- Scottish independence is another financial crisis waiting to happen
Subscribe to the Week