Sep 23, 2016

    Disney removes Maui costume after outrage


    DISNEY yesterday withdrew a children's Halloween costume depicting the tattooed Pacific demi-god Maui after critics accused the entertainment giant of promoting "brown face".

    The full-body, zip-up costume, linked to the upcoming animated feature Moana, featured brown skin with traditional Pacific tattoos, a grass skirt and bone necklace.

    Pacific activists accused Disney of cultural appropriation, comparing it to the racially offensive "black face" make-up once worn by white performers in United States minstrel shows.

    Disney, which will release Moana later this year, said it was withdrawing the outfit from sale and regretted the offence it caused.

    "The team behind Moana has taken great care to respect the cultures of the Pacific Islands that inspired the film, and we regret that the Maui costume has offended some," it said.

    "We sincerely apologise and are pulling the costume from our website and stores."

    It is not the first time Moana, a retelling of Polynesian mythology, has sparked outrage.

    When a trailer was released in June, the Maui character voiced by Dwayne Johnson was slammed for being obese.

    Critics said it "fat-shamed" Polynesians and reinforced stereotypes of the island nations, which have some of the world's highest obesity rates.

    Tattoos are a particularly sensitive topic for some Polynesians, as full-body designs were an integral part of their culture.

    In Samoa, the pe'a sogaimiti, a design that scrolls from the upper waist to the knees, is an important rite in the passage to manhood.

    It is traditionally applied by striking a wooden club against an ink-soaked bone chisel in an excruciatingly painful practice that can take days to complete.