Disney’s Improvisation: New Orleans’ Second Line, Racial Masquerade and the Reproduction of Whiteness in The Princess and the Frog: Sarita McCoy Gregory
Disney’s 2009 animated ﬁ lm The Princess and the Frog off ers an important metaphor of the second-line tradition in New Orleans, although with a twist. Second lines reveal the humanity of blacks by allowing them to subvert traditions of exclusive hierarchies. My argument in this chapter is that Disney’s second line attempts to reveal the humanity of blacks while reasserting traditions of racial hierarchy. The movie provides a useful example of how second lines can take an old text and bring a new translation to it. Disney brings a new translation to a classic fairy tale, The Frog Prince, by transforming the standard, well-known tale about a frog who must ﬁ nd a princess willing to kiss it in order to release the spell and return him to his human form. In The Princess and the Frog, Disney riff s the story much like a jazz performer does with the old Snow White tune, “Someday My Prince Will Come.”1 In the movie, the frog prince kisses Tiana, someone who is not an actual princess, turning her into a frog with him. This marks the beginning of a journey that takes the frogs through New Orleans seeking to discover who they really are and restore their humanity.