Moana Commentary

Pacific Islanders have complicated feelings about Moana. Here are some well thought out pieces:

My own bones I pick with Moana – all IMO:

  • From a Hawaiian perspective, Maui is not a big bumbling guy. He is lean and wiry, smart as a whip, and strong but relies on his wits.
  • Where the heck is Hina? Maui’s complimentary is Hina, and for the story to have a truly Polynesian feel, it needs to have a sense of Polynesian poetry, which relies on pairings and opposing couplets. Gotta have Hina.
  • Lava monster??? Come aaaahhhnnnnnnnn.
  • It’s a paddle, not an oar. Oars are attached to the vessel. Paddles are held by the paddler. How can we trust your Polynesian languages when you don’t even get the English right?
  • But, for me, the most offensive part of the movie is that Maui is depicted as having been unwanted by his parents, and thrown into the sea. I was so shocked when I read that in a review, I was heartsick. In the Southern Pacific, a prominent story is that though he was apparently stillborn, his mother loved him so much she cut off her hair and wrapped him in it. She then tossed the bundle into the sea where Maui was nurtured. Eventually he found his mother again and was welcomed into her home. A prominent Hawaiian tradition is that he was reared by his mother and stepfather.  But I know of no traditions where he ever was unwanted.