First enjoy this artist’s rendition of a genderbent Pocahontas, then, think about how the scene of their first meeting might have gone if she actually had been a man.The first thing I noticed was that John Smith immediately pulls his rifle out and locks it on the figure in the mist– which happens to be our beloved Native American Princess, Pocahontas. Her hair is elegantly flowing in the breeze, as if this is a photoshoot from America’s next top model and there is a fan perfectly pointed in her direction. She’s smeyesing, (smiling with the eyes) she looks beautiful, as Tyra Banks would say, she looks FIERCE; not fierce enough for John Smith to want to shoot her though. But if Pocahontas were a man, don’t you think John Smith would have just pulled the trigger?
Maybe John Smith thought it was a bear or some rabies-ridden raccoon, but he was very quick to pull his gun, and very quick to set it back down once he realized his target was a beautiful woman. Disney took this ‘first encounter’ and totally sexualized it; it is not a meeting between colonizer and colonized, it is simply a scene that evokes the idea of “love at first sight”. The movie circulates around their love story, and the conflict between the the colonizers and the native people is evident, but it seems to only serve as a highlight to the strong, almost, magical, bond that Pocahontas and John Smith share.
Disney princess movies traditionally follow this pattern by focusing on some sort of forbidden, “star crossed” love, so they took this same old cookie-cutter plot and pasted it onto a historical event in America’s history. The only problem is they butchered the real story entirely. This movie perpetuates a false idea that the European take-over of this land was some cheery and romantic thing. As children, we grow up loving this movie; as adults, we look back at it, almost disgusted by its ludicrous representation of the ‘first encounter’. But then again, it is a children’s movie, so I guess that brings up the question: how old do kids have to be before we start teaching them the true history of this country, when does the sugar-coating stop?