Lilo & Stitch: Hawaiian Native Child Welfare
I don’t think that this has been mentioned before, sorry if it has. I was reading your review of Lilo and Stitch, which is by far one of my favorite Disney movies, and you did a great job of cataloguing so many of the things I love about it. However, there is one more subtle thing that most viewers might miss without context, and that is the movie’s inclusion of main plot about the continued systematic problems with treatment of Hawaiian Native families by the child welfare system.
At least some social science literature has been written about the consistent removal of Hawaiian native children, usually from more remote islands, due to poverty-linked “neglect” or relative-based fostering systems (‘ohana is an actual key concept among Hawaiian natives regarding childrearing and keeping kids within their biological families through informal relative fostering agreements even when parents are unable to care for them).
Continued impoverishment of rural areas in Hawaii leads many adults to be unable to provide sufficient resources for the children they are fostering. However, rather than giving these families (often headed by single grandmothers or aunts) resource-based support, children are often removed from these homes and sent to foster be fostered in the homes of mainlanders.
This is a kind of cultural genocide, with Hawaiian adults unable to pass on their culture and language to children fostered outside their communities. Judith Modell has written about this problem and the struggles of Hawaiian relatives to regain/maintain the right to keep children. This process is not explicit in the film, but it is nice to see how Nani’s economic circumstances lead her parenting abilities to be questioned by a mainlander and her resistance to Lilo being taken away.
lilo and stitch actually is the most depressing film that disney ever made
it’s literally about parents dying and a child being forced to raise her younger sister and about an alien coming and wrecking their house and having the fbi on their case only to show them true family and how to love each other when they feel so alone and really like no movie made me cry as a kid like this movie did
it’s also one of the most uplifting stories for the same reasons. nani is one of the strongest and most real characters in any disney movie imho, because here’s this girl who has been strong through losing her parents and having to raise her little sister. she’s doing the best she can by trying to find a new job, trying to keep her sister happy and safe, trying to work with CPS to keep her family together. she’s got to deal with having her whole world turned on its ear constantly and she is such a powerhouse. sure, she loses her cool, but in her situation, others would do it in far less productive ways. she is fantastically protective of lilo and just wants everything to be okay.
nani is the serious best character ever.
Lilo and Stitch is Disney’s greatest achievement imo.
Lilo and Stitch is one of my all-time favourite movies. I really wish there were more films out there that were on its level.
showed this to my roommate’s bf and he was like “WOW THAT IS REALLY GOOD but she will never pass for a perfect bride or a perfect daughter” and I died.
in actuality she is clearly a BOSS.
best cosplay ever.