Last week something magical happened at the movie theater. As I walked into the theater to see Home, I was surrounded by a sea of little black girls of all hues as they held the hands of their parents, eager to see the new animated film Home, starring Rihanna as a little Caribbean girl named Tip.
The last time I saw a movie theater filled with that many little black girls was with the release of Annie. Who knew that a movie about a little red-headed orphan that now starred a little black girl wearing a “natural” would draw so much fanfare from little girls? Who knew that a film about a girl and her alien friends would draw such a crowd?
Home and Annie both proved that representation matters.
Dreamworks’ Home may not have been the blockbuster success the studio was looking for, but so many black parents were able to bring their children to a movie in which the main character looked like them. Although Home got a Dreamworks face-lift and wasn’t exactly a page-by-page replica of the book, with changes to Tip, she is undeniably a smart brown girl, with an accent to boot.
But there seems to have been something off when it came to the marketing and merchandising of Home. There have been reports that Rihanna’s character, Tip, is missing from billboards in certain areas, with only the aliens being featured. If you happened to live in an urban area, you’d see Tip, but say, for example, you’re in the suburbs of Los Angeles—then you’d only see the aliens being advertised.
And it doesn’t stop there. As with many animated movies, there’s always the branding and partnerships with corporations, especially if those corporations cater to younger children.
One father noticed something was amiss when he took his children to McDonald’s to purchase a Happy Meal: The Home characters were being promoted, but apparently not all the characters.