Moana, the Disney blockbuster, is an amazing cultural achievement.
December 5, 2016
By Albert Ainuu
A major event in the Disney universe has brought undeniable consequences and ramifications to the shores of small Polynesian islands and communities everywhere. The release of the full length feature animated film, Moana, has become the hit film of this 2016 Holiday season and in the process brought the Polynesian culture, its fashions, history, lifestyle, mythology and humor; front and center in the world of bright lights and entertainment. The film was released to much fanfare and anticipation Thanksgiving weekend and in 2 weeks has accumulated $120 million in the US alone. The movie has not only reached financial success but has also exposed the somewhat mysterious Polynesian Culture to the world. Ready or Not!
As the Disney film became a topic of discussion prior to the release, there were many different opinions and criticisms from the global Polynesian community. It was ridiculed by some for failure to present a truthful depiction of the Polynesians. There were those who felt the blatant commercialization of the culture was detrimental and insulting to our people. There were voices who made a mockery of the rather stocky girth of Maui, the demi-god character played by Dwayne "the Rock" Johnson as a stereotypical portrayal of Polynesians known to be rather large. There were those who found fault with an attempt to market Maui costumes for Halloween. The tattoos being placed or presented so culturally inaccurate were another bone to pick for others. I too had participated in some verbal sparring on facebook about the appropriateness of the movie's purpose and potential for good or bad as it related to the Polynesians as a group. As a result it was with hesitation and a little trepidation that I ambled up to my local movie theater, plopped down $25 for my wife and I, and walked into the movie complex to finally see what all the controversy was about.
After we had secured our popcorn and drinks we went into the dark theater and sat down. I was surprised to see those seated. I saw Arabs, white folk, black folks and Mexicans all seated ready to watch this movie about a young Polynesian girl. Surprisingly no Samoans or other Polynesians were there. I felt rather conspicuous wearing my Le Malae Sweater with a Samoan Fale on the front as I walked in. We were late as is normal for a Polynesian but I would say at this stage the focus was on the screen not the late-comers.
The previews were done quickly and then the Disney introduction came in. I felt a little overwhelmed by the magnitude of what Disney was about to unleash. This was Disney, the number one entertainment company in the world about to take a leap of faith that a story based on a culture so foreign and obscure by global standards that it was not a given that Moana was going to reap huge profits. I was very aware of the financial risk involved, the possibility that such a story would have no frame of reference for the audiences which as I observed were nowhere near Polynesian. As the Disney castle began to sparkle with fireworks, I felt a feeling of great humility that a company of this magnitude was about to tell the story of my people.
From the first drum beat accompanied by the singing voices singing in a language I could understand and a rhythm that beat deep inside my soul, this familiar spirit swept over me and occupied the theater with a warmth and comfort that I felt when I was back in Safotulafai, Savaii, circa 1972. I couldnt help but feel pride and awe as the big screen unveiled the beauty of the islands we grew up in. This was animation at its best and the story they were telling was my story. I felt as I sat there watching the huge screen that any Polynesian child or adult sitting in my place should see themselves in a different light once they watched this movie and those who were not Polynesian would come away from this experience with a better appreciation of who we as Polynesians are.
I imagined in my mind the hundreds of thousands of Samoan or perhaps millions of polynesian children growing up in lands where they are not the dominant culture. They have been subject to many unfair and racist labels by those other cultures we are forced to assimilate. These are the kids I imagine walking out of the theater a few inches taller as they can define themselves through an icon of pop culture taking the liberty of presenting them and their culture on the big screen. Very few cultures have shared this stage in a positive manner and this is why I am humbly appreciative of Disney and their decision to feature Moana.
Granted it didnt hurt that one of the biggest stars in Hollywood today is a Samoan and he played a major role in the movie, because the Rock playing Maui is a rare phenomenon in this industry where race usually isnt a consideration when casting actors especially for animated features. The effort Disney put into appeasing the critics whether by design or by pure luck was definitely worth mentioning. I was watching for some inaccurate or offensive depictions of our culture and never saw anything that stood out. It was made with what seemed a great deal of sensitivity for our culture and our heritage. It was a job well done.
However the movie was not perfect, it had a weak ending and the back story might have been better, but for the most part I loved it. The Maui character definitely was well portrayed by Seiuli Dwayne Johnson. It was a playful and unpredictable character that the Rock portrayed, however, he was more human than God. The part of Moana actually was very well done by the newcomer Aulii Cravalho. Her voice was superb as she sang in true Disney fashion, with purpose and emotion. Her voice as the young girl destined for great things was well defined and combined strength and potential as she defined the coming of age heroine in a manner different from other rather overly feminine and helpless Disney "princesses".
Most of the reviews were positive and in many instances quite effusive like this one by Peter Debruge of Variety who stated: More than "Tangled," more than "Frozen," "Moana" keeps with the tradition that made Disney the leader in animated fairy and folk tales.
As the movie ended I reluctantly stood up to leave, but then we noticed some of the names on the credits as they rolled and realized how many Polynesians were involved in this project. What I was so impressed by was that the best of the best animators were employed in making this movie and this was why it looked so amazing. As a student of 3 D animation I could appreciate the detail that Disney Studios went to to make the various effects like the water which came alive or the tattooed chief and the dance moves of the Grandmother which were almost human. The baby Moana's features were so Polynesian at times I thought I recognized her. The texturing and art work were superb.
The visions of her past with the Vakas of her ancestors voyaging on the sea brought back memories of the Vakas that sailed to the USA a number of years back and brought the realization to me what magnificient explorers we had been before when our people sailed over the entire planet and settled in many places from the Pacific, to Asia, North, Central and South America, Madagascar, Africa and even perhpas Europe and the Middle East.
This movie was such a confirmation process for me and I believe that it was for any Polynesian who went there with an open mind. I left the theater smiling and hoping more movies of our people would emerge as this film had opened the door to our people to share their culture with the world. The financial goals of Disney may have been achieved with our story, and therein lies one of the main complaints, but I believe we as a people benefitted more as we and our children have received a gift that we could never have enjoyed in a thousand years without Disney's decision to create this movie.
And the gift is this, we know who we are.
Faafetai Walt Disney. O lau pule lea.
The Rock confirms there will be a Fast & Furious 8 and he may be getting his own Hobbs spin off.
Yesterday, Warner Brothers hosted a press conference for San Andreas, the film where Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson will play a heroic first responder making amends with his family.
Of course, Johnson is known for several of his blockbuster action films - one of those being theFast & Furious franchise. Having appeared in the previous three installments but playing a much smaller part in the latest, fans of the adrenaline pumping franchise are wondering if Johnson's Luke Hobbs character will be returning for the eighth installment, which Vin Diesel recently confirmed at CinemaCon.
During the conference, Johnson addressed the possibility of a Hobbs spinoff for Fast & Furious. "We all are interested in it," Johnson said. “I just had a big conversation with the studio, so we’ll see. I still think for me personally, we create a little bit of space from seven and gauge what the audience will want and go from there. That’s my take on it. Now a lot of other people have their own say."
After the San Andreas press conference, Johnson was asked directly by NerdReport whether he'll be returning. "Of course," Johnson said, adding, "Can't go on without Hobbs."
There you have it. Not only will The Rock return for the eighth edition of Fast & Furious, but there's also the possibility his Hobbs character becomes a franchise itself. Is Hobbs the franchise character Johnson has been waiting for? To date, he has never played the same character more than three times, but Luke Hobbs may be his best known role yet.
Do you want to see a Hobbs spinoff movie in the Fast & Furious universe? After all, he is the cavalry.
The Rock’s San Andreas Promotional Tour Is the Best Thing About Summer 2015 So Far
By Mark Davis/Getty
Who cares if the movie is good? The promo efforts have already been worth it.
BY KATEY RICH
San Andreas may wind up being a gloomy, dreadful disaster movie, the kind of pessimistic apocalypse porn that this weekend’s would-be blockbuster Tomorrowland specifically called out for ruining, well, everything. But no matter what the movie itself holds, it’s hard to imagine any film this summer being promoted with the kind of cheerful, anything-for-a-headline verve that The Rock has been bringing these last few weeks.
A wrestler turned movie star who can make virtually anything seem like a good time, The Rock has jumped into promotional duties for San Andreas with the kind of energy that might seem exhausting, or grating, from anyone else. He teamed up with a YouTube video interview series to conduct a surprise wedding (and got licensed by the State of California to make it legal and everything):
He’s fended off marriage proposals of his own:
Sure, some of this is just your typical works of promotion in the social-media age—why do a regular talk-show appearance when you can do a sketch that goes viral? Why have an Instagram if not to stroke the egos of your fervent fans? (#FromMyHeart). But The Rock, who has basically been ever present since theFurious 7 promotional duties started up in March, is just better at it than everyone else. No one else deserves the Guinness World Record for selfies because no one else would seem to enjoy it as much as this guy does. No one else deserves to have become a star thanks to a lot of ridiculous movies because no one else could make it seem like a wonderful reward after a lot of hard work. San Andreas may not do the world any good as a movie, but The Rock is enough of a gift to humanity to make up for it.
Pacific Island soul singer and contestant on NBC’s The Voice Season 7, hosts an Island Style Christmas Concert in Orange County, CA set for Dec. 20, 2014.
Family man and working artist, Tini Grey, who was recently featured on Season 7 of the popular NBC TV show, “The Voice,” is bringing an Island Style Christmas to you. He and his musical family and friends are putting together an unforgettable show that will surely get you and your families in the holiday spirit.
“I grew up in a very musical family that was rich in Island and family traditions, AND celebrating Christmas was one of my favorites ones,” Tini shares. “Now that we are older and have our own families, it’s very rare that we get together to do a show like this. So, I’m really looking forward to reliving some of those great memories and sharing them with a whole new generation of music lovers.”
Island contemporary music and old Christmas classics will collide for an unforgettable evening of harmony and festive celebration. The pre-show and concert begins at 6:30pm and promises to be fun-filled celebration of music, faith, family and aloha – which is what the holiday season is all about. A nightcap of milk and cookies will also be available following the event to round out the evening in good ‘ole Saint Nick fashion.
TINI GREY and his wife, Angela Perez Baraquio, Miss America 2001, will co-host the island-style Christmas concert together featuring their talented family members in Orange County, CA. on Saturday, December 20th, 2014 at 7PM at the Ebell Club Theater, 625 French Street, Santa Ana, CA 92701.
Included in the program with Tini Grey is his father, the musical icon, Jerome with his Jerome Grey Trio (Polynesian Family Band) and his younger brother, the ever popular Taumata Grey. He is the lead guitarist/vocalist from the up coming Pacific Island Pop band, The Common Kings, (currently on the 20/20 tour with Justin Timberlake). Also featured will be Na Hoku Hanohano Award Winner (Hawaiian Grammys) Shawn Ishimoto and more.
A portion of the proceeds will be donated to charity and the family will be hosting a toy drive benefiting Toys For Tots. Bring an unwrapped toy and enjoy the concert with milk and cookies afterward. Brand new CDs, merchandise, and apparel will be available––first come, first served!
General Admission price is $25, and the VIP Platinum is $40. Platinum Access includes exclusive Pre-Show Entry and Meet & Greet (5pm), Preferred Seating, Early Merchandise Access and Wine Reception. General Admission entry begins at 6:30pm. Brand new CD's and apparel will be available in limited quantities - first come, first served!
To Purchase Tickets go to the website: www.agreyfamilychristmas.com
Music Available on: Itunes.com and www.agreyfamilychristmas.com
For More Information:Contact: Tini Grey
Tel: (808) 224-4882
Or visit www.agreyfamilychristmas.com
PAUL IETI SPECIAL GUEST AT ASBDC FINALE — ROCK SOLID 2 VICTORIOUS
By B. Chen, Samoa News
Fans got a treat this past Thursday during the grand finale of the first ever American Samoa’s Best Dance Crew (ASBDC) competition, when world famous singing sensation Paul Ieti took the stage for a special performance.
Paul, of Aoa, arrived in the territory on Monday and is here for three weeks. His mother and biggest fan, Akenese Ieti, accompanied him to the ASBDC finale.
After all the performances that night, and before the official standings were announced, Paul was given the chance to perform two songs.
Paul made headlines several weeks ago when he became the first Samoan to ever make it to the semi-final round of the popular NBC hit show, “America’s Got Talent”.
On Thursday, Paul sang “God Bless the Broken Road,” the song that landed him in the AGT semi-finals. He followed up with a John Legend hit, “All of Me”.
While Paul was singing, some of the female audience members just couldn’t resist, as they ran up on stage to strike a pose behind him and snap photos.
At the end of the night, Dept. of Youth and Women’s Affairs (DYWA) Deputy Director Pa’u Roy Ausage thanked Paul for his performance and told the audience and those watching from home that Paul is living proof of the talent that is abundant in the territory. Pa’u said, “If Paul can do it, so can you”.
ROCK SOLID 2 WINS BEST DANCE CREW COMPETITION
The small western village of Afao had something to celebrate this past Thursday evening, after their pride and joy — Rock Solid 2 — garnered a total of 888 points to win the first American Samoa’s Best Dance Crew (ASBDC) competition.
The finale was held in front of huge crowd at the Governor H. Rex Lee Auditorium as well as the hundreds who tuned in from home on KVZK-TV channel 2.
Major sponsor of the competition is McDonald’s American Samoa, whose CEO Tautolo Charlie Tautolo spoke on behalf of his company and presented a sponsorship check of $13,000 to DYWA Deputy Director Pa’u Roy Ausage.
Tautolo said he is satisfied with the preparations that went into the ASBDC program and said regardless what he has heard and what people have been saying, “We are very organized.”
All of the top six groups that made the cut last week were given the chance to perform again during Thursday’s finale, and the final standings were based on the combination of scores for both nights.
The evening started off with a performance by Mount Zion of Leone, a group of 5 boys and one girl who came ready to entertain. Dressed in black pants, white shirts, and suspenders, the group featured the youngest performers of the night.
Their routine included the infamous “Twist”, “Footloose”, and the “Tootsie Roll”. They even incorporated a little Latin flavor through music and dance moves. Judge Ursula commented, “you guys did old skool justice”. Judge Princess added, saying that the performance was very animated and brought a lot of smiles to everyone.
“Whatever happens tonight, you guys are the best,” she said.
The second act of the night was Flower Power, a group of eight fa’afafine who Judge Ammon described as “very entertaining”, before commending them on the “acrobatic risks” they incorporated into a routine that fused contemporary and old skool moves.
The stage lit up as the girls, dressed in hot pink and florescent green leggings and tops with matching umbrellas, showed off their agility with flips, tosses, and even the splits.
The girls took “Vogue” by Madonna to a whole ‘nother level and transitioned to classic old skool with Mc Hammer’s “Can’t Touch This”. In the end, Judge Princess said, “You girls did me proud.” She described the girls are “true performers” and their routine as “seductive”.
She said their costumes added a lot to the routine and told Flower Power that they were “definitely coming for the gold.”
Air Gear Studio, representing the Bay Area and trying to make up for a very poor performance last week, came ready to battle.
The group of five guys who donned green satin shirts, black ties, and white facemasks wowed the crowd with a lot of robotics and illusions. This is the same group that performed a levitating act two weeks ago and had everyone picking them as a favorite to win. But their lackluster performance last week contributed highly to them falling short of winning it all.
Following their performance at the finale, Judge Ursula said the group “rocked it” and she used words like “slick”, “mesmerizing”, and “awesome dynamics” to describe their final routine. Judge Ernest told Air Gear Studio that he is their biggest fan and although he was disappointed with last week’s showing, the group stayed true to their form and proved themselves in the end.
Judge Princess said the group made a strong comeback and their techno-infused style made her the “happiest girl in the room” that night.
But it was Rock Solid 2 of Afao that was definitely the crowd favorite.
The group of nine guys who incorporated every genre from old skool to modern age in their final performance didn’t disappoint. Not only was their choreography on point, the group members had everything going in their favor. From the high energy level to the attitude, the music selection, and even the use of black light, it was no secret that Rock Solid 2 was gunning for the title.
Judge Ammon told the group that they “deserve good results”, while Judge Ursula commented, “this is what a dance group is all about!”
Judge Princess said it best when she said Rock Solid 2 wasn’t “awesome”, they were “Afaosome”.
The three guys and one gal calling themselves ‘Humble’ took the stage next, giving it their all by moving around the stage with confidence and what Judge Ernest called “raw power”.
The night concluded with a performance by Petesa’s very own New Boys, representing the youth of Ierusalema Fou. The group of five guys who sported biker gloves, blue and black flannel shirts with white ties and black hats had the crowd - even the judges - from the beginning of their routine to the end.
The group’s performance two weeks ago landed them in sixth place — on the verge of elimination — but they came back last week and showed everyone that they were true contenders, and they had what it takes to be in the finale.
The New Boys started off with a silhouette, depicting the King of Pop, Michael Jackson and one of his popular hits “The Way You Make Me Feel”. Samoan songs were also incorporated into a routine that featured hit tunes by Gloria Estefan and Ariana Grande.
The guys even threw in a little audience participation when they formed a group tree and picked a flower off the top, a flower that was presented to Judge Ursula who called that little segment their “most impressive move of the night.” Judge Princess said “Michael Jackson is rolling in his grave, happy with this performance.” She added that the ‘versatility’ of the group and their consistency in maintaining eye contact with both the audience and the judges was ‘awesome’.
Judge Ernest, who is a local artist, told the New Boys crew that he would love to have them perform in a music video with him. He said the ASBDC program is all about the youth and talent, and the New Boys have definitely showcased that, through their growth in climbing up the rankings as the program progressed.
When it was time to announce the winners, OPI Director Fagafaga Daniel Langkilde, and Rev. Alapi Eti joined Tautolo and Pa’u on stage to present the awards.
Tapumanaia informed the crowd that the groups who place fifth and sixth, along with the four that were eliminated two weeks earlier, are allowed to enter next year’s ASBDC competition.
Those in the Top Four, all of whom received cash prizes, will not be eligible to compete again next year.
In sixth place with 721 points was Mount Zion, followed by Air Gear Studio who came in fifth place with 732 points. Both groups received consolation prizes, including gift bags from the DYWA.
In fourth place, with 749 points was Humble, who received $500 cash from McDonald’s and gift certificates from DYWA.
With 790 points, Flower Power came in third place and went home with $1,000 cash, in addition to other goodies provided by DYWA.
New Boys came in second place and received $1,500 while Rock Solid 2 took home the title, bragging rights, and the grand prize of $2,000.
The ASBDC was hosted by DYWA’s youth representative DJ J-Smooth Iosua who was assisted by DJ “Z”, a movie producer, filmmaker, and director of the popular “Seki A Oe” movie.
The evening started with Dept. of Youth and Women’s Affairs (DYWA) Deputy Director Tapumanaia Galu Satele Jr. thanking all the ASBDC supporters and sponsors. Rev. Alapi Eti of the Ierusalema Fou Church offered both the opening and closing prayers for the evening.
Special guests included American Samoa’s singing soldier Paul Ieti, who was a recent semifinalist in America’s Got Talent (AGT), Director of the Office of Public Information Fagafaga Daniel Langkilde, and CEO of McDonald’s American Samoa Tautolo Charlie Tautolo (the major sponsor of the event).
DYWA Director Jonathan Fanene was not able to make it.
The panel of judges included Ernest “Ice Cream Man” Seva’aetasi, Ursula Martin, Princess Ariana Auva’a, Lologa Olo, and Ammon Johnson.