TCHS Rampage

Temple City High School


September 26, 2016

Disney’s “Elena of Avalor” disappoints Latinx viewers

Disney has promoted their newest animated TV Show, “Elena of Avalor” as their first Latina princess. The pilot episode of this on Disney Channel quickly skims through the defeat of an evil sorceress, named Shuriki, who took Elena’s parents and kingdom away from her. Now, after defeating Shuriki, the royal teenager is next in line for the throne but must first acquire help in ruling Avalor.

Disney claims to have mashed up different aspects of Chilean, Mexican and other Latino cultures into the smaller details of the show. However, the Mexican culture seems to be the most represented: the Teotihuacan inspired pyramids, Mayan glyphs, the Northern Mexican flower in Elena’s hair and even the Spirit World Tree intending to be Central Mexico’s Arbol de la Vida (Tree of Life).

There are other Latino attributes like her friend, Mateo’s Chilean tamborita and the Cuban Salsa and Dominican Merengue in the soundtrack, but Mexican culture seems to be the most prominent.

The effort is appreciated, but when you have that much Mexican representation, you might as well make her a Mexican princess. Though Disney’s goal may have been historical accuracy with the abundance of tan skin, brown haired and dark eyed people in the Pre-Columbian era, it would have been better to incorporate all shades of skintones.

It’s true that a majority of Latin people possess darker features, but many also have lighter eyes and skintones. Racial profiling is only being encouraged through this re-enforcement of stereotypes. Non-latino children may grow up with the a fixed idea of what a Latino person really is.

Just look at some of the beautiful actors and actresses in our telenovelas. Though, the only light skinned, blonde, lighter eyed person in the show is Elena’s friend, Naomi. Personally, I have met Latinos with lighter complexions and similar physical characteristics, but Disney’s efforts at diversity fail because they lack the actual diversity.

Furthermore, Disney did the Latino community a favor by not giving every single character a Spanish accent. However, they made characters’ accents, more stereotypical. For example, Elena’s grandfather Francisco and her cousin Estaban, both sound cringy, kind of like your typical secret, passionate, Spanish lover.

Had I any involvement in the production, I would have identified Elena with a single Latino nationality and included a greater variety of skin pigments and eye colors. Additionally, if I planned on giving certain characters accents, especially if there’s no concrete Latino nationality, I would make sure not to use just the standard Spanish accent. That’s like giving all Americans southern accents. All in all, Disney’s acknowledgment of the Latino community is flattering with its high spirited music, Latin-based architecture and incorporation of Latin folklore. Personally, having grown up with and loving Disney princesses like most little girls, I witnessed European, Asian, African American, Native America and Arab princesses have their own movies, not just a tv show.

Imagine, had Disney given their first African American princess, Tiana no more than a mediocre TV show, fans would be outraged. As a girl in the Latino community, it feels like a backhanded compliment and a demotion as Disney spent more time and funds on other Disney princess movies.


About the Author

Bobbins Moose
Bobbins Moose is the mascot of Rampage. He represents all alumni that have come and gone through Rampage program here at Temple City High School.


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