« Who Killed The Golden Compass Sequels? | Main | The 50 Most Important Religion Films of All Time »

January 10, 2010

The Princess, the Frog, and the Offended Christians

Evangelicals aren't embracing voodoo message of Disney's animated hit

In a recent article for the Wall Street Journal, pop culture writer Mark I. Pinsky notes that evangelical Christians aren't very happy with Disney's latest animated hit, The Princess and the Frog.

Why? Seems that we boo that voodoo that they do so well. According to the article, "Hollywoodjesus.com said the animated feature's preoccupation with voodoo, black magic, bloody amulets and Ouija boards was 'too dark and extreme for this kind of kids' film.' Christiananswers.net rated the movie 'Offensive'; citing a Tarot card reading, soul transfer and implied reincarnation, the site called the film 'demonic.'"

Still, Pinsky, author of The Gospel According to Disney, concludes his article by saying that the film "embodies the full canon of the Disney Gospel: dreaming, wishing, hard work, love and self-sacrifice, aided by strategic magical intervention. Believers in the Judeo-Christian tradition will also recognize the saving grace of selfless love and good works."

Have you seen The Princess and the Frog? What did you think? Who's right -- Christians who think it's too occult, or those who see its "saving grace"?


I was really looking forward to The Princess and the Frog being a big Disney fan, however after seeing it I was shocked by how dark and demonic it was. Disney's films have always had some kind of magic or witchcraft in them but it's always been a very unrealistic, fairytale-like magic. The Princess and the Frog crossed the line. If Dr. Facilier had just said some magic words or made some magic potions I wouldn't have minded him. In fact I don't even think I would have been too bothered by the tarot cards and palm readings if it stopped at that. What really bothered me were the evil spirits and especially the part where they dragged Dr. Facilier to Hell. That was just too dark for a Disney film. Some people have pointed out how Dr. Facilier could ultimately serve as an example for how voodoo and witchcraft are evil and shouldn't be messed with. I could have looked at the film in this way and liked it a lot more if it weren't for Mama Odie, the good voodoo priestess. Having her character in the film says that voodoo can be used for good as well as evil.

On the other hand I wouldn't have minded Mama Odie if Dr. Facilier wasn't so dark. Mama Odie was a lot more like the characters from earlier Disney films, not really doing anything more than mixing some potions and waving a magic wand. However since Dr. Facilier was so realistic I can't look at Mama Odie in the same way I can look at The Fairy God Mother in Cinderella. Disney could have made Dr. Facillier less dark and I would have liked the film or Disney could have not shown good characters using voodoo and I would have liked the film but I can't accept both.

you guys have been complaining about this even when the story was good and the animation was brilliant in all Disney films.
God forbid they had confucianism in Mulan or Shaman magic in Brother Bear.

your lack of acceptance is what will make all stories in the world horribly stupid and narrow.

enjoy your AIDS.

Thank you, Anne for your kind words.

Disney can do what they like, they always have and have always made a whole buttload of money.

Found this interesting reading in light of Brit Hume's comments and public tar and feathering.

Typical small minded Christianity.

The sad part about this is that most UNBELIEVERS (especially YOUNGER people) are waking up to the fact that Disney has been doing wicked and evil propaganda since their inception! Just go on youtube and check out all the videos that are exposing the "matrix". How can those that proclaim to walk in the light, stumble around in darkness?????

We went to this movie with high expectations and left half way through the movie because my two year old was scared. My older children were offended by the amount of black magic. They did cross the line. The villian should have been a little more silly and they should have used disney style magic not real life dark magic.

Real life dark magic??? What are you people talking about? A person can be turned into a FROG in real life???? Really?

I am a Christian and if this movie shows anything it shows that working with the "Dark" side doesn't work out in the end. Something other Christians should be glad to have their children learn.

Traci, if you really want to tell your daughter the truth, I suggest researching demons and angels. They are both existing all around us, and thankfully, most of us never see them. Can you find in the Bible where it says they no longer exist?

I was raised in a very conservative church, and still belong to one, to this day. It is something almost never talked about, if ever. But many theologians are noting an increase in demonic activity as we rapidly approach the end times and the coming soon of Jesus for his bride, the church. Many theologians believe that the sighting of ufo's and crop circles to be the action of demons.

In Exodus chapter 7 it says:

"The LORD said to Moses and Aaron, "When Pharaoh says to you, 'Perform a miracle,' then say to Aaron, 'Take your staff and throw it down before Pharaoh,' and it will become a snake."
10 So Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and did just as the LORD commanded. Aaron threw his staff down in front of Pharaoh and his officials, and it became a snake. 11 Pharaoh then summoned wise men and sorcerers, and the Egyptian magicians also did the same things by their secret arts: 12 Each one threw down his staff and it became a snake.

(These were not pretend snakes)

Also in chapter 7:

The LORD said to Moses, "Tell Aaron, 'Take your staff and stretch out your hand over the waters of Egypt—over the streams and canals, over the ponds and all the reservoirs'-and they will turn to blood. Blood will be everywhere in Egypt, even in the wooden buckets and stone jars."

20 Moses and Aaron did just as the LORD had commanded. He raised his staff in the presence of Pharaoh and his officials and struck the water of the Nile, and all the water was changed into blood. 21 The fish in the Nile died, and the river smelled so bad that the Egyptians could not drink its water. Blood was everywhere in Egypt.

22 But the Egyptian magicians did the same things by their secret arts, and Pharaoh's heart became hard;

The magicians could not do everything that God did through Aaron. However, they did turn their staffs to snakes, and they did change water to blood.

In the NT, some people were cured by driving demons out of them. I am FAR, far, away from calling every illness and ache and pain as being something from a demon, but evidently, they are in some cases. Also, Christians cannot be indwellt with a demon if they are indwellt with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will not share His space!

But there are people such as Dr Walter Martin, who wrote "The Kingdom of the Cults" and his daughter, who have both dealt with demons in other people, and you can find his videos online on google or youtube about his driving out demons from people. His daughter was on Olive tree Ministries and talked about how she saw a demon in her daughter's room. You may be a lot younger than I am, and do not know him, but I've always considered him a pretty good resource.

The Bible also talks about angels, and their protection of us at God's command.
Ephesians chapter 6 tells us this:
10Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. 12For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

This is as true today as it was yesterday. Demons and angels do exist, and there is a chance you and/or she may encounter one of them. You may be Christians, but you may now know it, but your neighbor may be a satanist.

I hope you know to not have a ouija board in your house. Even non-Christians warn about them, and it's for a reason. One toy company this year is marketing them in pink to appeal to little girls. That is extremely sick and its dangerous.

I just appeal to you to not believe that black magic is all pretend. It is NOT pretend, it is very real. The devil and his followers, the demons, are alive and well. Read Ephesians chapter 6 to learn how to protect yourself.

I dunno, I think everyone's reading too much into this. I think that Anne was correct in the sense that Disney designs a movie to suit the time and culture of its setting. Just like Mulan was animated in a style reflecting medieval Chinese paintings, the Princess and the Frog represents 1920s New Orleans. The style of the musical numbers, most notably the "Almost There" sequence, is clearly designed to resemble 1920s art posters. Also very prevalent in the New Orleans area at the time was the belief in voodoo and hoodoo and similar arts, real or no. It follows that they'd use that as their "regional magic" for this film, like Anne was saying about Brother Bear. I don't think Disney's trying to push any kind of spiritual belief on anyone, although I do agree with Pinsky about using the typical "Disney cannon" of hard work, love, and wishing on a star.

An interesting point on Mama Odie, which I've been arguing since I first saw the film, was that she DOESN'T use any magic on the main characters. She flat-out REFUSES to work any kind of spell on them, telling them instead that they have to find their OWN way (to the tune of 'joining of old faith and Gospel,' if I may, showing a progression towards Christianity. Let's hear it for using pagan symbols and holidays to convert nonbelievers into the Fold!). Not only does this break with the tradition of the typical Disney fairy godmother, but I would think it provides some kind of solace to the concerned parties on this site who think Mama Odie represents an OK for "good" voodoo. By not working her magic, and by telling the characters to find their own path, you can still have the "bad voodoo user goes down" theme, as well as an implied message of "magic doesn't help you, only you can decide to take the right path and fix yourself." Sounds like people discovering Christianity on their own, to me.

I dunno. As an agnostic who's still smart enough not to mess with any kind of spiritualism/religion/faith - "good" or "bad" - out of sheer respect for their power, I'm just gonna give this movie a basic thumbs-up. It was a fun story.