The first time Disney’s upcoming animated feature Ralph Breaks the Internet revealed the Disney Princess crossover in the Wreck-It-Ralph universe, netizens expressed their excitement. But that excitement was quickly replaced by disappointment when netizens noticed that some of the characters—specifically Mulan, Pocahontas, and Tiana—have, they believe, undergone whitewashing.
Okay… As hyped as I am for this amazing still of Ralph Breaks the Internet… Why the hell are Pocahontas and Tiana’s skintones lighter than what they truly are? Are you kidding me right now? I’m tired of this crap. pic.twitter.com/Ntsd5Mmmhu
this isn’t a diss to hapa ppl – if Disney and its audience can’t fully embrace Mulan’s Asian-ness that’s a problem pic.twitter.com/jLrZBS2Udx
— Stephanie (Law School ? Semi-Hiatus) Tran (@YouAndYourEgo) June 5, 2018
For the backlash it received, the animation studio has reportedly went back to the drawing board, and completely redid their depiction of Princess Tiana two months before the film’s release date, over complaints that she had visibly lighter skin and different facial features than the ones she had when she first appeared in The Princess and the Frog. Actress Anika Noni Rose, who voiced Tiana both for the 2009 film and for Ralph Breaks the Internet, expressed her sentiments through social media.
A post shared by Anika Noni Rose (@anikaaroundtheworld) on Sep 24, 2018 at 5:07pm PDT
The team behind Ralph Breaks the Internet explained how “CGI animation did different things to the characters’ color tones in different light compared to hand drawn original characters,” and showed “the steps they were taking to bring those things back that got lost.” Brandi Collins-Dexter, a senior campaign director at advocacy group Color Of Change, said, “Disney’s decision to restore Princess Tiana’s image to that of an unapologetically black princess with full lips, dark skin and dark hair in Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2 is a victory.” She added, “Disney has shown its commitment to addressing the concerns of Color Of Change members and the black community.”