Culture

Disney's 'Moana' -- Diversity Done Right?

"Moana," Walt Disney Animation Studio ©2015 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

Dwayne Johnson somehow squeezes in movie shoots between reps. And, in the case of his upcoming film, will battle Hollywood’s diversity woes in the process.

Not the kind where a studio guilts audiences into buying a ticket, mind you.

The wrestler turned actor, a virtual wall of muscle, can be seen in more than just “Central Intelligence,” in theaters now.

He’ll appear, or at least we’ll hear him, in the upcoming Disney feature “Moana.”

The film, set for a Nov. 23 release, recently released its first teaser trailer. We don’t know much about the story, although press outlets have been crowing that it represents the first Disney film with a “Pacific Princess” character (voiced by Auli’i Cravalho).

A mixed-race star alongside a young person of color? It’s what Hollywood observers have been demanding for some time.

That may be true, but here’s betting “Moana” doesn’t go the “Ghostbusters” route. For those away from social media for the past month, the minds behind “Ghostbusters” want you to think the film’s lousy trailer and concept are your fault, not theirs.

The film’s director and stars have slammed “fanboys” for hating the genuinely awful trailer. They suggest it’s nothing more than sexism, a fear of women suddenly owning their box office clout, as to why it became the most loathed trailer in history.

Major press outlets have done virtually the same. That’s not progress.

Compare that to “Moana.” Its first teaser trailer is joyous and brimming with potential. It’s got that classic Disney feel — superb animation, colorful critters and a dollop of heart. You don’t need to be yelled at for not liking it. How could you not?

And then there’s Johnson himself. A mixed-race superstar, Johnson doesn’t talk much about breaking cultural barriers or attacking those who may not admire his career.

He works. He promotes his films. He’s typically cheery and positive on Twitter. In short, he enhances Hollywood diversity with every movie he makes. He simply prefers to let his films speak for him.

It’s exactly how we’ll see true progress in Hollywood. Women and minorities make great products, and the public flocks to the theaters. Hollywood bean counters will see the power of true diversity, not the kind that demands special protection, and start hiring a broader range of stars.

It’s unlikely Disney will push the Diversity Card, either, as “Moana’s” release date draws near. The corporate giant shies away from divisive promotional pushes. Consider how it featured a female hero and black star in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” but didn’t shove the fact down our cultural throats.

It cast a fine actors (Daisy Ridley, John Boyega) in critical roles, gave them compelling characters, and watched the millions roll in as a result.

That’s how progress could, and should, happen.