I am going to paraphrase the words of an educated man Jacob Fitisemanu in very simple English.
If you are going to watch Moana to learn your history… Don’t
If you are going to watch Moana to learn your identity… Don’t
If you are going to watch Moana to learn your genealogy… Don’t
If you are going to watch Moana to learn your culture… Don’t
If you are going to watch Moana to learn about the Demi-God Maui… Don’t
If you are going to watch Moana to learn the definition of the word Moana… Don’t
Go and watch the movie and enjoy it. Look for the positive messages that are in the movie. For example, Moana’s words were “I’m NOT a princess, I’m the daughter of a chief.” The majority of us are not of royalty and our daughters will never be princesses. But my daughter is the daughter of the chief of my home.
Another good one is by Maui, paraphrasing his words… ‘know where you are from to determine where you are going.‘
So go and enjoy the movie, knowing that Moana is a cartoon character. As the words of the lady with the video on Café Koko Samoa – ‘Moana on the cartoon “was NOT born… she was drawn…”
Now here is my advice to all those that say Disney is exploiting our culture. – LEARN FROM THE MORMONS (AKA The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – LDS).
Let me take you away from Moana and take you to New York City so you will understand what I mean by “Learn from the Mormons.”
When the Musical the Book of Mormon debuted on Broadway in New York City, it was a musical that was completely the opposite of what the Mormons teach. There was a lot of profanity in the play. They even wrote a song that mocked how the Book of Mormon came about and Joseph Smith. Some of the critics who were not Mormons indicated that the play is very offensive towards the Mormons. The normal ticket to see the play was $500USD, but it was almost always sold out, despite how crass the musical is.
The Mormon Church never came out with any official statement against the musical (at least to my knowledge). Instead, they flooded New York City with ad campaigns of “Meet the Mormons.” The LDS church paid for an ad campaign to go on some of the biggest billboards in New York City saying “Meet the Mormons.” They paid for some of the digital billboards in the center of Time Square to run their ads on who the Mormons are. The LDS church completely flooded New York City with pamphlets, commercials and ad-campaigns so people will know what the Mormons believe.
I thought that was a great strategy. The musical was free publicity for the Mormon Church. When a person that has never heard of the Mormon Church goes to the musical, they come out wondering who the Mormons are. So they start researching, and to their surprise, they see it on the billboards, they see it on TV commercials and they see it on the digital boards in the middle of Time Square. This resulted in people knowing more about the Mormon Church than ever before – all because of the crass Musical The Book of Mormon.
So back to Moana and Maui.
We have a lot of educated Polynesians that know a lot of our legends and history. Educated people that can write in words that makes people like me read their writings ( sometimes with a dictionary on my side just to understand their writings!) People like Lani Wendt, Tevita Kaili, Jacob Fitisemanu, Seti Matua, and a lot more out there that I don’t know your names.
I urge you to write blogs, start FB group pages, do youtube videos and more that tell the story about the true Demi-God Maui. Write about the Tifa-i-Moana and its meaning. When people go to see the movie, they will come out wanting to know more about who Maui is. So when they google Maui or Moana, they will find your epistle that tells of the real Maui. Ride the Disney wave and get the word out there.
Take advantage of Disney’s publicity of the Polynesian culture. The more we write negative comments about the movie, the more bitter we look as Polynesian people. Let us ride the Disney wave and tell the world about how friendly and happy we are. Not very many people know who Polynesians are.
Let me personalize this now. When I first moved to America, I lived in the East Coast (Connecticut). Naturally people thought I was Hispanic and would start speaking Spanish to me. I would always tell them sorry no Espanol, I’m Samoan. “Where?” They would ask. I would say “Samoa.” “Where is that?” I would start by saying “Fiji”, blank stare, “Tahiti”, blank stare, “Hawaii?”… “Oh you’re Hawaiian.” I then would try and explain that I am not Hawaiian but am Polynesian. People have no idea what Polynesians are.
So now that Disney has created a galu lolo (tidal wave) large enough for the world to see, let’s ride that wave and tell the people who we really are. Lets tell the world that we really are the Friendly Isles of the Pacific. That we truly live on the Happy Islands of Polynesia.
Learn from the Mormons and ride the Disney Wave!
Taught computers at Vaiola College
LDS Mission in Samoa for 2 years
Worked as the IT Manager for LDS Church Schools for 8 years
Taught night classes for NUS for 4 years
Met a tourist in Samoa in 2001
Married her in 2003 in Mesa AZ
Moved to CT USA Dec 2003
Have 2 little beautiful girls
Now work as a Financial Technical Analyst for a Health Insurance Brokerage in the US.