Home, which stars Rihanna, is not critically acclaimed in the world of animation. The critics were largely split. And even though viewers liked it, the movie came and went without much discussion. But Home has something that none of the Disney or Pixar films have to date (unless you count the mostly forgotten Princess Tiana) – a black girl main character. The last black main character in a Dreamworks animated film was Prince of Egypt in 1998. I like Disney and Pixar as much as the next guy, but it’s honestly just sad. There have been roughly 79 Disney and Pixar animated feature-length films combined. One of them has a young black girl as the main character. I don’t even think there are any black toys or dolls in any of the Toy Story films

There isn’t really an excuse for why it took Dreamworks this long either, but at least we’ve got the first. And even more importantly, the representation of this young black girl protagonist isn’t problematic or hinged on tropes. Tip is a character that gets to develop as much as any character in a movie like this can. And Home is a story that allows black girls to see themselves at the helm of an adventure that requires bravery and intelligence.

And we have to mention the natural hair realness.

representation in animation
Photo: Dreamworks

Reviews for Home were critical of the story. Many people were of the opinion that the movie’s plot was overdone – because that’s never happened in animation before. If anything, Home is a breath of fresh air in major studio Hollywood animation, because for the very first time, a black girl gets to do what all the little white boys have been doing from the jump. In fact, I’d argue that this type of character literally not existing anywhere before makes this movie completely original.

But just like they always do, Hollywood buries a movie that should’ve gotten so much love – which affects things like merchandising. Do you know there are almost no dolls of Rihanna’s character Tip in stores? There are blue/purple alien plushes to be found everywhere. But no black girl dolls. She’s only the main character of the entire movie, right? Even when we get a win for black women, it comes attached with so many shortcomings.

My point is, this is not what we deserve. This is lightyears away from the best we can do. And it’s time that we start getting more representation everywhere. I’m still going to go see The Incredibles 2, ok Pixar? But can we get something on the books for an African princess, fam? We’ve literally been to every other continent there is. Africa does have people there too, not just animals. That’s all I’m asking. The game needs balance. Ignoring films like Home to discourage studios from making similar choices to represent people that can’t see themselves on screen is not the business. And if you think it is, you’re the problem.

representation in animation
Photo: Tumblr

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