Disney rewrites Carib history

When it was announced that the Disney Corporation was going to film the sequel to its popular Pirates of the Caribbean, there was great enthusiasm on the tiny Caribbean island of Dominica. Dominica has the last remaining Carib community in the world – some 3,000 who live in proud poverty on the Atlantic Coast of the island. Local politicians and leaders of the indigenous community had visions of at least temporary work and a flood of US dollars as filming progressed. But soon rumours started to fly that the script of the movie was portraying the Caribs as a gang of voracious cannibals. The Carib chief expressed concern, denying that his ancestors had ever practised cannibalism – a claim supported by anthropologists. The Disney Corporation – previously accused of stereotypical presentation of indigenous people in its cartoons – is treading carefully. Movie viewers will just have to wait to see whether Johnny Depp and company will give an historically accurate portrayal of the Caribs, or the Disney Corporation will continue to play fast and loose with racial stereotypes.

mag cover This article is from the June 2005 issue of New Internationalist.
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