Pacific Islanders are upset over Disney’s portly depiction of demigod Maui in the studio’s upcoming animated film Moana.
Criticism of the character came soon after Samoan professional rugby player Eliota Fuimanono Sapolu posted a meme to Facebook that showed photos of three Polynesian Hollywood actors, including A-listers Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson (who voices Maui) and Jason Momoa, above a photo of Maui.
“Maui looking like after he fished up the islands, he deep fried em and ate em,” Sapolu’s post read.
Jenny Salesa, a member of New Zealand’s parliament, reportedly posted that same meme to social media.
“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,” Salesa wrote, according to the Washington Post.
Backlash for Disney’s highly anticipated Moana was widespread on Twitter.
Moana should be used to break Polynesian stereotypes, and it is kind of hard to break the obese/ overweight one with Maui that robust
— śarah (@saratchet) June 24, 2016
— Damon Salesa (@DamonSalesa) June 23, 2016
But not everyone was offended by Maui’s hefty appearance.
Moana character, Maui, gives a dark skinned fat guy, like me, a perfect cosplay opportunity. Thanks @TheRock
— chris cruz (@NerdyCruz) June 13, 2016
According to The New Zealand Harald, Samoan comic book artist Michael Mulipola said he’s not bothered so much by Maui’s appearance as he is by the way Disney made a mockery of his true mythology.
“I’m not phased by the way Maui is designed in this film. In Polynesian mythology, Maui is the demigod who inspired many myths and legends,” Mulipola said.
“In this film, he would have done a lot of those amazing feats but he’ll be a blow hard braggart who can be a bit of an idiot. There’s a reason the upcoming film is called Moana and not Maui.”