Twitter users slam Disney plans to make ‘Princess of North Sudan’ movie
WATCH: Jeremiah Heaton explains how he proclaimed the Kingdom of North Sudan, made his daughter a princess and what he has planned for the desolate territory.
If it wasn’t controversial enough for an American businessman to walk up to a desolate swath of land in Africa, plant a flag and claim it as his kingdom, just imagine the reaction when word got out that Walt Disney Studios is planning to make a movie about it all.
Nestled between Egypt and Sudan, the tiny Kingdom of North Sudan has no citizens, no industry and is ruled by a young American Princess named Emily and her father, the self-proclaimed king.
Almost one year ago, Jeremiah Heaton — a farmer, mining industry executive and failed independent Congressional candidate — wanted to keep his promise to his then 7-year-old daughter (the aforementioned Emily) that she would someday be a princess.
So on June 16 last year — Emily’s birthday — Heaton found his way to a mountainous region known as Bir Tawil — a 2,060 square kilometre, trapezoid-shaped swath of land that neither Sudan or Egypt claim.
As Heaton described it in a Facebook post, Bir Tawil is “the very last piece of Earth unclaimed by any Nation or man.
“Once in the Bir Tawil region, I planted a flag, designed by my children and made a physical claim on the land,” Heaton wrote in the post. “The Kingdom is established as a sovereign monarchy with myself as the head of state; with Emily becoming an actual Princess. … I kindly request that when you see Emily, to address her by [the] official title, Princess Emily. Each time she hears this title she will be reminded of my love and the lengths I will go to fulfill her every wish.”
Nothing about the Kingdom of North Sudan is recognized by any government or international body.
Deadline reported, in November, Disney’s planned to make a movie about the story of King Heaton, Princess Emily and the Kingdom of North Sudan. But when the <Hollywood Reporter revealed Wednesday the studio had hired a screenwriter for the project, reaction was quick and furious.
The Internet has treated the story not as a modern day fairytale but a tale of modern day colonialism.
— ️ (@ReinaAtlantico) May 14, 2015
i just read the synopsis for #PrincessOfNorthSudan and literally gasped. does Disney think colonization is cute & kid friendly. really.
— beans (@erineatsworld) May 14, 2015
What a cute dainty little story about colonization & white supremacy Oh Disney, you outdo your own racism every time! #PrincessOfNorthSudan
— Hana Shafi (@HanaShafi) May 14, 2015
When your American daughter asks you if she'll ever be a "real princess" just tell her no. Don't go staking claims. #PrincessOfNorthSudan
— Margaret Farenger (@MFarenger) May 14, 2015
This is NOT a cute story. This is a story of a man who is romanticizing colonialism despite its dark history. #PrincessOfNorthSudan
— Araweelo (@NaimaVibes) May 14, 2015
Heaton refutes the claim that he’s any sort of colonist.
“The definition of colonialism is the invasion of one country by another country for exploitation of resources and goods,” he told Foreign Policy on Thursday. “I don’t represent the U.S.A. and that area was abandoned.”
And, he chided “academics at universities” who say his monarchical venture is “modern day colonialism.”
“I can’t help any more that I was born in America as a white man than an Asian person born in Asia can [help that].”
But, Heaton has some seemingly earnest aspirations and his dreams for the kingdom go beyond just giving young Princess Emily a land to call her own.
Heaton actually wants to turn the relatively barren Kingdom of North Sudan into a land of sustainable agriculture and renewable energy.
Whose idea was that? Princess Emily’s.
In a promotional video for a crowdfunding campaign to develop the Kingdom of North Sudan, Heaton explained he asked Emily “what should be done with the land.
“She said, ‘We should grow a garden big enough to feed everyone.’ In that moment, I knew the direction the Kingdom of North Sudan should take and fighting global hunger is just the beginning.”
The Disney film is tentatively titled Princess of North Sudan. Filmmaker Morgan Spurlock (of Super Size Me fame) is set to produce the film and the newly named screenwriter is Stephany Folsom.
Just because the movie is about a princess doesn’t mean it’s going to be a run-of-the-mill animated Disney princess movie.
“The studio is focusing on the relationship between the father and daughter set against a backdrop of a fantastical adventure,” according to The Hollywood Reporter.
But, Folsom took to Twitter on Thursday to defend the project and to slam critics, although many of her tweets were later deleted.
In a tweet that remains on her account, she wrote:
— Stephany Folsom (@StephanyFolsom) May 14, 2015
In the deleted tweets, she wrote:
— Nad!a A. (@Nadiaalie) May 14, 2015
— Nad!a A. (@Nadiaalie) May 15, 2015
Global News reached out to Walt Disney Studios for comment and was awaiting a response at the time of publication.
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