Luther College Chips

Representing the other in Disney

Jordan+Boge+%28%E2%80%9818%29%2C+Visiting+Assistant+Professor+of+Philosophy+Peter+Nekola%2C+and+Associate+Professor+of+French+Anne-Marine+Feat+discuss+minority+representation.
Jordan Boge (‘18), Visiting Assistant Professor of Philosophy Peter Nekola, and Associate Professor of French Anne-Marine Feat discuss minority representation.

Jordan Boge (‘18), Visiting Assistant Professor of Philosophy Peter Nekola, and Associate Professor of French Anne-Marine Feat discuss minority representation.

Martel Den Hartog (‘19) | Chips

Martel Den Hartog (‘19) | Chips

Jordan Boge (‘18), Visiting Assistant Professor of Philosophy Peter Nekola, and Associate Professor of French Anne-Marine Feat discuss minority representation.

Martel Den Hartog, Staff Writer

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






Jordan Boge (‘18) presented his summer research on cultural representation in Disney’s animated film “Moana” on Nov. 15 in the Center for Faith and Life Recital Hall (CRH). The presentation was followed by a panel discussion with Boge, Associate Professor of French Anne-Marine Feat, and Visiting Assistant Professor of Philosophy Peter Nekola. The presentation ended with a Q & A with the audience.

In his lecture, Boge outlined the conclusions of his 10 week research project at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Boge explored cultural representation during the process of creating “Moana.” Boge developed a framework with five concerns: research, permission, compensation, authorship, and avoiding harmful portrayals. He then used these five concerns to evaluate appropriate cultural representations in the film.

Boge’s research focused on the bonus features, which analyzed a particular narrative. According to Boge, filmmakers try to say that they appropriately represented the subject culture in the bonus features. Throughout the presentation, questions of authorship loomed.

“I encourage people to watch the bonus features,” Boge said. “They’re not there for just kicks and giggles to be fun. The bonus features make an argument. They’re trying to persuade you further from what filmmakers were already trying to say in the movie.”

The panel then discussed additional examples of cultural representation. Feat provided an account of her research with Irish colonization. According to Feat, when Ireland was colonized, maps were redrawn, cities renamed, and Ireland natives were forced to readjust.

“Outsiders redefined where the Irish were living, and who the Irish themselves were,” Feat said.

Martel Den Hartog (‘19) | Chips
Jordan Boge (‘18) answers questions after his presentation.

In a more contemporary example, Feat spoke about Irish-American immigrants, who she worked with when she first moved to the United States. These immigrants also had a different interpretation of traditional Irish culture.

“The Irish-American immigrants who went back to Ireland were really disappointed that the people that they met there were not really authentic Irish people,” Feat said. “They really meant that they met Irish people who were not doing all the things they were expecting Irish people to do on a daily basis.”

Dr. Nekola highlighted some of the risks associated with cultural expectations.

“Culture is a pattern that is constantly shifting,” Nekola said. “The danger in that is that if culture is dynamic and always changing, it’s easy to pass that off and say commodification is not a big deal. But Jordan brought to light the possibility of exploitation and appropriation, even without a sense of static authenticity.”

Anna Barton (‘20) thought the presentation made relevant points and posed questions that she had not thought to ask.

“How do we tackle commodification of different cultures?” Barton said. “And is it enough to just represent a wide variety of cultures in media?”

Boge argued this is not enough. Understanding who the gatekeepers of a culture are provides insight to how accurately a culture is represented.

“The burden becomes the job of the movie to negotiate the cultural difference in a manner that enables viewers to understand and have conversations beyond just watching the film” Boge said. “At the end of the day, it’s people taking representation more seriously.”

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Comment

Comments are closed.

The student news site of Luther College in Decorah, Iowa