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Respecting Other Cultures

As any decent human being knows and understands; it is important that we are always respecting other cultures and how they act and believe. I grew up watching Disney movies. I had a new favorite every time a new one was released, but that didn’t stop me from binge watching my old ones. I really enjoyed watching Pocahontas. I remember thinking how fascinating it was to get a glimpse into the life of a native American. Hearing Pocahontas sing, “The Colors of the Wind” was eye opening to me even at a young age.

Disney has always been great at not only captivating their audience with great animation and story lines, but also as they reach their audiences far and wide. Growing up only in the United States, I was unaware that Disney adapted any of their movies or movie titles for any of their audiences in other countries. After moving to Sweden, and travelling around a bit, it has come to my attention that they do just that. Sometimes it’s for very practical, legal reasons; while others is to help their viewers relate to the characters on a deeper level.

A Name Change

Not that long ago the new Disney movie ‘Moana’ came out. Of course, that’s no surprise for anyone who has young children like mine who like to watch the same movie over and over. After a discussion with a friend, it was brought to my attention that the name of Moana in Sweden is actually Vaiana and it even has a third name in Italy, Oceania.
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Respecting Other Cultures
I found that the name Moana is actually a trademarked name in Europe for a perfume. Apparently, they needed to change the name so that there weren’t any copyright issues. Another theory is that in Italy there was a famous porn star named Moana Pozzi. Of course, Disney isn’t interested in having their movie associated with her, and needed to change the name. In Italy though, they have actually changed the name of the movie to Oceania even though the main character is still called Vaiana.

Cultural Changes

No matter the reason for the name change of Moana, this brought up some discussions with friends about different items or shows that are changed based on the country and or language. I then read an article that discussed how Disney changes more than just the names in their movies in order to better fit into different countries and cultures. Here is a YouTube video which summarizes some of those changes.

What’s Most Important

Moving to another country has put me in the minority. I look like everyone here, and unless I open my mouth, no one knows that I am an outsider; but the fact is, I am. I don’t speak the same language and some of the ways in which I do things is a bit different. Many other countries in the world are even more different than Sweden is compared to the United States.
Imagine being a child and watching the new Disney movie only to see the main character turning away broccoli when broccoli is an absolute favorite for most kids in your country. As a child, you might be a bit confused and find it harder for you to relate to that individual character. Just that small change in the movie, be it small and barely significant, could make a big difference in how you felt about the film. I think it’s great that Disney is respecting other cultures as they make and create movies for EVERY child of the world. I’m proud to say that I grew up watching Disney movies, and my kids are as well! Go Disney!