Disney Pulls ‘Moana’ Character Halloween Costume After Customer Feedback

Disney Pulls ‘Moana’ Character Halloween Costume After Customer Feedback

By Amanda Joyce Sep 26, 2016 09:12 AM
Photo Credit: Walt Disney Animation

Disney debuted a selection of clothing and Halloween costumes early this month to give families some Moana-inspired merchandise to build up the excitement for their next animated feature film. Less than a week later though, Disney removed one Halloween costume after a slew of negative feedback from social media and potential customers.

Moana follows the titular character, a young Polynesian girl, on a voyage across the sea with a demigod named Maui. Both characters are being voiced by actors with Pacific Island heritage in Auli’ Cravalho and Dwayne Johnson, respectively. Disney also made an effort to cast supporting voice actors with Hawaiian roots as well, like Nicole Scherzinger who comes from a Hawaiian family and was born in Honolulu, though not many fans who followed her singing career were aware of tht. Scherzinger voices the mother of the title character

Disney released a costume to allow children to dress up as the demigod Maui that not only included a wig of black hair, fabric that looked like clothing made of leaves, but also a suit of fabric meant to resemble the animated character’s dark skin and tattoos.


There was also a pajama set with a similar makeup.

Potential customers immediately flocked to social media to voice their disapproval, calling the costume irresponsible, racially insensitive, and cultural appropriation. Many on social media questioned why Disney would think wearing another culture’s skin would be deemed okay.

Disney heard the complaints loud and clear, and rather than issue a statement of denial and continue to try to reap the merchandising rewards, they pulled the costume from their website, and store shelves. The Huffington Post reached out to the company for a comment and received a statement that, “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. We sincerely apologize and are pulling the costume from our website and stores.”

Filmmakers did their due diligence when crafting the story and the script for the film, and in creating animations for the story. Disney actually assembled The Oceanic Story Trust, made up of a team of experts in Polynesian and Oceanic arts and culture. Apparently, that team of experts wasn’t consulted for the marketing of merchandise though.

Despite the misstep, with Disney’s apology and removal of the clothing from store shelves, the studio has now stepped in the right direction. What will parents do for kids who might want to be Maui for Halloween now? How about attempting to replicate the outfit he wears in the animated feature instead of his skin?

Moana lands in theaters in November, but Disney already has merchandise available to purchase related to the film.

Tags: Moana (2016)
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Having graduated with a BS in Psychology in 2008, Amanda opted not to pursue a scientific field, but freelance writing instead. A bit of a pop culture junkie, ...
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