Netflix apologized for its sexist synopsis of ‘Pocahontas’
We all slip up from time to time, and that includes Netflix, too. Our favorite streaming site/best friend recently came under fire for how they described the Disney animated movie, Pocahontas. Instead of summarizing how the movie includes the strong and fierce Pocahontas trying to save her tribe, Netflix described the movie as if the whole plot revolved around Pocahontas finding a man. What would Grandmother Willow have to say about this??
If you’ve scrolled through Netflix recently, you’ve probably noticed that sometimes their show/movie descriptions (along with categories) can be kinda tongue-in-cheek. They’re meant to be a little playful, and sometimes funny, but the description for Pocahontas came out downright sexist. It was first brought to the public’s attention by Dr. Adrienne Keene, who tweeted out its description:
It reads: “An American Indian woman is supposed to marry the village’s best warrior, but she yearns for something more — and soon meets Capt. John Smith.” Eesh. That’s not the story of Pocahontas I remember watching. Pretty sure at one point she free-jumps off a waterfall cliff like a badass.
Dr. Keene, who runs the website Native Appropriations that “[discusses the] representations of Native peoples, including stereotypes, [and] cultural appropriation,” took to the website to further discuss just how disappointing this description is for the site, and for the movie. She points out that other Disney movies, namely ones featuring male protagonists, have descriptions that highlight the heroes actions, and not their love life. “The use of ‘woman’ and ‘yearns’ is so…gross. Shudder.” She writes. “The problem? It overly sexualizes the film, and only positions Pocahontas in relation to her romantic options, not as a human being, you know, doing things.”
It wasn’t long before Netflix caught wind of this (but I bet not the colors of the wind) and wanted to make things right. Netflix reached out to Dr. Keene and thanked her for bringing the description to their attention. They then did something awesome, and changed the Pocahontas description.
Now it reads: “A young American Indian girl tries to follow her heart and protect her tribe when settlers arrive and threaten the land she loves.”
The new description makes it clear that finding a husband is not Pocahontas’ goal; she’s really gotta save what’s important to her and her family.
Major props to Netflix for swiftly taking acting and changing the description after it was brought to their attention. As Dr. Keene writes on her site, “Sometimes I’m still amazed by the power of the Internet.” Us, too.
(Image via Disney.)