Little boys will no longer be able to dress up as the banished demigod Maui—a character in Disney’s latest film, Moana—thanks to all the people (some of them Polynesian) who complained about cultural appropriation.
Screenshots of the offending costume are available here. Disney is pulling it from shelves, and has apologized in a press release.
“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,” the company said in a statement, according to Entertainment Weekly. “We sincerely apologize and are pulling the costume from our website and store.”
Disney has been criticized for not having a diverse enough roster of characters and films—too many rail-thin white princesses—and Moana is an attempt to address that. But Disney’s filmmakers are damned if they do, damned if they don’t. When Disney uses merchandise and costumes to make a minority culture accessible to non-minority children, the studio gets accused of cultural appropriation. When it sticks to stuff for white audiences, it’s accused of racism. When Disney’s protagonists are good-looking and thin, it’s accused of promoting unrealistic and unhealthy beauty standards. When it includes a plus size protagonist, it’s accused of fat-shaming Polynesians.
People are free to work themselves into a frenzy over whatever they want, of course, but taking Halloween costume options away from kids who are expressing an interest in other cultures is such a weird hill to die on.