Debate rages over cultural appropriateness of Moana Halloween costume

Local News

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – Halloween is less than a day away and a lot of parents are scrambling to find a costume. One costume is causing some controversy, despite it being a popular Disney character.

Some believe if you don’t have a Polynesian decent, it’s culturally wrong to dress as Disney’s Moana for Halloween.

A now-viral blog post on Raising Race Conscious started the conversation.

Last month, Disney pulled another character from the “Moana” movie from the shelves due to complaints about cultural appropriation, the character Maui.

“If we can think instead of the word ‘political correctness,’ and camaraderie, and respect, maybe that builds a different conversation and makes us think about our choices a little bit differently,” said Dr. Trisha Bruce, an associate professor of sociology at Maryville College.

“I definitely wouldn’t want anyone to be offended by any costume, whether it be a Native American or a police officer.” said Freda Johnson, a grandmother shopping with her grandson.

Parents say culture isn’t the first thing they think about when their child is picking a costume. They said it’s about safety, appropriateness and the cost.

“We let them be pretty much anything they want to be, as long as it’s not offensive.” said Kathleen Johnson, a parent shopping for her two kids.

Bruce says the conversation isn’t just limited to Halloween, but could be applied every day of the year when discussing other cultures.

“It’s bringing up traditions or heritage, food, culture, rituals, that are not familiar to them. It makes personal something that is not familiar to them.” said Bruce.

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