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Moana Is Trash

This article is about why I hate the Disney film Moana.

An older picture of K standing in front of an aircraft with their name, rank and hometown of Waianae, HI.
An older picture of K standing in front of an aircraft with their name, rank and hometown of Waianae, HI.

I am Black and Sāmoan. I grew up in Wai'anae, Hawai'i. When I first saw Moana, I cried and I was proud. After I was able to process the film for the moldy crumbs that it is, I was then able to see how ambiguous, exploitative and unfulfilling the film is. It's beyond heart wrenching to know this is the amount of representation we'll receive and that no other parts of our cultures will be emphasized because of greed.

Here's why Moana is trash.

The continued exploitation of Hawai'i Nei.

  • There is a reason Disney will continue to make trash ambiguous films like this, its money.

  • Disney has resorts on various islands of Hawai'i, so without some ambiguous tie to Hawai'i they won't be able to attract new visitors under the false narrative of "building up Hawai'i".

  • Disney took all their "research" to create this film and still ‘The caricatured likeness of Maui, a demigod in a living religion, is now plastered on to fossil fuel-powered jets that cart thousands of tourists to Hawaii from the United States.’

This film was not made to represent but to ensure people continue to colonize, threaten and exploit Hawai'i Nei.

It ambiguous AF.

  • It never notes what Moana is.

  • Actors of different backgrounds of the Pacific lend their voices to the characters.

  • The island where Moana lives looks like Sāmoa but their music and stories use other languages.

  • Multiple gods are featured in the film and their stories are jumbled together disrespectfully to create a plot that centers Hawaiian demi-god Maui, voiced by Dwayne Johnson (He/Him), who is Black and Sāmoan.

  • The catchy songs of the film are written by Lin-Manuel Miranda (He/Him) instead of anyone that would fall under the diaspora.

Basically it's a hot mess that doesn't focus on a specific culture unlike Disney's other films dedicated to one culture (Coco, Encanto, and damn, is that it?).

Moana is White washed.

  • Moana is voiced by an actor who doesn't match Moana's background or complexion at all.

  • Auliʻi Cravalho (She/Her), who voices Moana, was born in Kohala, Hawaii.

  • Auli'i is of Native Hawaiian, Puerto Rican, Portuguese, Chinese, and Irish descent.

  • They discovered the star while searching where? In HAWAI'I.

  • The Moana image itself is inaccurate to the peoples of the time period.

The Black Kamehameha family

This photo of the Kamehameha royal family would have been centuries after Moana's time and yet Moana looks as if colonization already occurred.


Here are some words associated with the harm described above:

  • White Supremacy

  • Capitalism

  • Straight Up Lying

  • Colorism

  • Anti-Blackness

  • Colonization

  • Manipulation

  • Exploitation

It took a lot to write this. If you are participating in the actions above (ie. going to Hawai'i, accepting Moana as accurate representation or White washing the people of the Pacific.), stop!

Thank you for reading through! I try to write here weekly but I write on my Ko-Fi page daily. For more stories like this and insightful conversations, join one of the membership tiers. Learn more about me and my work at the link below.

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