• Some people are unhappy about demi-god Maui's physique in Moana (AAP)Source: AAP
"Maui looking like after he fished up the Islands, he deep fried em and ate em"
Bianca Soldani

28 Jun 2016 - 11:45 AM  UPDATED 28 Jun 2016 - 12:14 PM

Anticipation has been building for Disney’s upcoming island princess flick Moana, ahead of its December release.

However, the children’s film has been sparking discussion of a different kind of late after a Samoan rugby player took aim at the way demi-god Maui, who is voiced by Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, is being portrayed.

Sharing a meme on Facebook comparing Polynesian Hollywood actors in real life to Hollywood’s significantly rounder depiction of the Polynesian demi-god, Eliota Fuimaono Sapolu says the character is “half pig half hippo”.



His statement is supported by New Zealand MP Jenny Salesa, who is of Tongan descent.

She reposted the meme on her own Facebook page and writes, “I agree. When we look at photos of Polynesian men & women from the last 100-200 years, most of our people were not overweight and this negative stereotype of Maui is just not acceptable - No thanks to Disney”.

According to Polynesian mythology, Maui was a trickster who was known for his strength, making the days longer, and having fished the islands that the Polynesian people now inhabit off of the ocean floor.

The wider debate about his depiction online has been mixed, with some seconding Sapolu and Ms Salesa’s opinion while others say they don’t have a problem with it and he simply depicts more diverse body types.



One Facebook user writes, "Maui can be strong and bigger. I don't see Disney's Maui as fat but rather built."

"He's running around not struggling to walk. I mean look at his arms! They are huge as are his legs. He isn't fat but muscular. A kid doesn't need to see abs of steel to see he is strong."

On the other hand Samoan comic book artist Michael Mulipola drew his own breakdown of the film's characters and how their body types reflect their role in the story.



The World Health Organisation states that in at least 10 Pacific island countries, over 50% of the population is considered overweight, with that figure jumping to 90% among some populations.

Their 2010 bulletin on the matter states, "Replacing traditional foods with imported, processed food has contributed to the high prevalence of obesity and related health problems in the Pacific islands."

SBS has approached Disney for comment for this article but has yet to receive a reply.


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