71 A Few of the Things Wrong with Pocahontas

Shayla Locke


It’s interesting how Disney can take a horrific encounter between Native Americans and white colonizers in which the white men tried to completely annihilate them, and smooth it over with some magic sparkles and listening to the heart.


There are so many things wrong with this video that I’m not even sure where to start, even ignoring the historical inaccuracy, but I suppose the biggest thing that I noticed was the way that John Smith initially talks to Pocahontas. He speaks to her like one would speak to a scared animal or child, saying “it’s alright, I’m not going to hurt you” (which we all know is a colonizer’s LIE). He assumes she needs help getting out of the canoe when she is obviously perfectly capable of doing so herself. He also gets frustrated when she speaks to him in her native language, saying “You don’t understand a word I’m saying, do you?” I’m sorry Mr. Smith, do you expect a Native American, who has literally never seen a white person before, to be fluent in your language?

After Pocahontas gives him the sexy eyes and reaches for his hand, the heavens start singing “Listen with your heart, you will understand” and the wind picks up and forms some kind of magic aura around their clasped hands, and then all of a sudden Pocahontas can speak English!  Huh, maybe all the Native Americans should have tried listening with their hearts and then maybe they would have been able to convince the colonizers not to kill them!

Pocahontas magically being able to speak English after being told to “listen to your heart” implies that all Native Americans are truly white at heart, because they have the inherent ability to speak English; they just need contact with the white man in order to unlock this amazing ability. What a way to normalize whiteness and portraying the native culture as abnormal and something that must be corrected by, you guessed it, white settlers.



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The Student Theorist: An Open Handbook of Collective College Theory Copyright © 2018 by Shayla Locke is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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