The Underlying Truth Behind “Moana”

Lauren Lamar, Editor/Writer

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Disney’s most recent animated film, Moana, focuses on a young islander who is set to be the next leader of her small village. However, the looming threat of starvation is making her future job seem more difficult. The village retrieves a large majority of their food supply from the coral reef surrounding the island, but when the fish population starts declining people are left without options. Moana constantly yearns to go beyond the reef that acts as a safety net for their people, and she uses the argument that fish will exist outside the reef as her reasoning for breaking the rules. To put it simply: the coral reef is no longer providing for her village, so alternatives must be found. While the film has a strong feminist theme, Disney may have unintentionally encounter another issue facing our globe right now: climate change.

According to NASA, coral reefs have been deteriorating on an international scale for quite some time, which has inadvertently led to harming fish populations. In fact, in the last 30 years alone, 50% of all coral reefs have either collapsed or started the process of collapsing. This is an unfortunate reality in a world dominated by fossil fuel corporations and Western civilizations who fail to recognize their own carbon footprints. Although Americans do not directly rely on these coral reefs to keep their refrigerators stocked, one billion other people in developing countries do. Coral reefs are vital to sustaining proper biodiversity and feeding the mouths of those in less privileged societies. Unfortunately, it is hard for Americans to put this truth into perspective and change their living habits to adjust accordingly. We have become too dependent on unnecessary luxuries in our tailor-made communities, which has left the third world struggling to grow crops or even to have a roof over their heads.

Thus, when we look at modern-day pop culture it is important to consider every detail. Moana’s situation is not natural; coral reefs have always been an overflowing source of life and beauty, but now many of them are devastated by the side effects climate change. Even if Disney did not realize they were sending a hidden message about the current state of coral reefs, it is up to us to point that out and put the problem under a spotlight. A wide scale misconception about climate change is that it only affects how hot one summer day may be, but it is so much more than that. Anything and everything is affected by climate change, whether it be the quality of the food you eat or the home you live in.

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The Underlying Truth Behind “Moana”