With Raya and the Last Dragon, Disney wants to fight racism that targets Asian communities


Available this Friday on the platform of the firm with big ears, this animated film is a response to the increase in attacks against Asians in the United States.

Assaults targeting Asians have exploded in the United States with the pandemic, so for the team of Raya and the last dragon, the release of Disney’s latest animated film comes at the right time to combat these prejudices against this community. The film, which comes out this Friday on the platform of the firm with big ears, takes place in an imaginary universe inspired by different countries of Southeast Asia, where a young princess must find the dragon who can save Kumandra and reunite her kingdoms, deeply divided.

To dub the voices in the original version, the world’s number one entertainment company has chosen stars of Asian origin such as Sandra Oh, Awkwafina, Kelly Marie Tran and Gemma Chan. A paradox as the number of attacks targeting Asian individuals in the United States has jumped in recent months, fueled according to some observers by false clichés about the pandemic and the rhetoric of former President Donald Trump around the “Chinese virus”.

We have all seen these assaults unfold, over and over again … sometimes we end up saying to ourselves that the world is really not right.», Declared Kelly Marie Tran, American actress of Vietnamese origin who lends her voice to Raya.

She herself has been the victim of racist and misogynistic slurs as well as cyber-harassment by some fans of the Star Wars universe after her role in The Last Jedi in 2017. Several other members of the Raya and the last dragon have publicly expressed concern at the hostility and attacks targeting Asian communities in the United States.

Even though racist motivations are still difficult to establish with certainty, the number of racist crimes, targeting Asian victims, more than doubled on average last year in major American cities, including New York and Los Angeles, according to the report. a study published by a California university.

The power of words

Raya and the last dragon offers a simple remedy for these evils: For the Five Kingdoms to survive, they will have to end self-centeredness and learn to trust each other. Beyond this message full of good intentions, the film crew also hopes that featuring princesses and other characters characteristic of a Southeast Asian culture will have a concrete impact on society and the representation of these communities. .

Growing up in the 1970s and 80s, I never saw anything like it … And I have the impression that when it comes to the representation (of these cultures), it hasn’t changed for a very long time. long timeSaid Sandra Oh. “It is exposure that results in understanding, and this understanding in turn changes perception“, Believes Daniel Dae Kim (Lost, Hawaii 5-0), which overtakes Raya’s father.

Financially speaking, Disney of course has every interest in wooing the Asian market, especially the Chinese box office which is developing at a rapid pace. But film culture from Asia is on the rise in Hollywood, and elsewhere in the world. Last year the South Korean film Parasite caused a sensation at all festivals, winning the Palme d’Or at Cannes and then the Oscar for “best feature film”, becoming the first film shot in a language other than English to win the supreme award.

This year again, Minari, which features an American family of South Korean origin, could shine, while Chinese director Chloé Zhao has just won two Golden Globes for Nomadland . Asked after her victory over the upsurge in attacks against Asians, Zhao replied, “Trying to see the world through each other’s eyes is the only way for us to survive as a species.“.

I sometimes feel like these people who have so much hate in them maybe just hate themselves», She added. Qui Nguyen, co-writer of Raya and the last dragon, hopes the film will help raise awareness for some viewers. “In the past year, there have sometimes been a lot of negative images and words about Asians.», He noted. “Words have power. Hope this film is our word and our message to the world: Let’s be united», Adds his colleague Adele Lim.

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