Pixar’s New Movie Has Viewers Debating Perceived Blackface Aspect

Pixar’s newest movie, Soul, has sparked a bit of controversy, with viewers debating a perceived blackface aspect of the story. Soul debuted on Disney+ on Christmas Day, after previously being moved to the streaming service from a planned theatrical release due to cinema closures caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Please note: Below are spoilers for the film.

In Soul, Jamie Foxx voices Joe Gardner, a jazz musician with big dreams who currently works as a middle school music teacher. After landing a gig that could be a big breakthrough for him, Joe winds up suffering an accident that takes his soul to the afterlife while his body lay in a coma back on Earth. While trying to get back to the land of the living, Joe encounters 22, a mischievous new soul who doesn’t really want to become a human. Saturday Night Live and 30 Rock alum Tina Fey voices 22. At one point, the pair make it to Earth, but 22 ends up in Joe’s body, and Joe ends up possessing a therapy cat. This portion of the film, with Fey voicing a black man, has led to a lot of discussion on social media. Scroll down to see what people are saying.

I genuinely have no idea why people aren’t talking more honestly about how Soul fails its Black characters and audiences by crafting its story for white people https://t.co/55hlNjPzKA

— Charles, Space Professional (@CharlesPulliam) December 28, 2020

Like they literally center it around jazz and all these beautiful black characters drawing in a black audience but not really caring much abt who was voicing these characters. Like I know that 22 was a soul and wasn’t mean to have a race but cmon now 1/3

— senae destiny (@senae_destiny) December 29, 2020

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In the real world we all know there was a race behind the actors and they really just catered it towards black ppl so why couldn’t they have found a black voice actor to voice 22 if they were going to be in the black main characters body for the majority of the movie ? 2/3

— senae destiny (@senae_destiny) December 29, 2020

Same old story. 21st century blackface and white salvation in a Disney movie that supposedly celebrates Black culture. https://t.co/xjgZnJP4Tc

— Greg Reish (“Goyo”) (@greish01) December 30, 2020

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My least favorite part was Tina Fey in animated blackface.

— Aunt Tifa – she/her (@Nadildeaux) December 26, 2020

someone on here really said the Soul movie was blackface I’m—
*logs off*

— tami 😙 (@tamiforrester) December 27, 2020

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Just got done watching Disney’s “Soul.” Can someone explain how we still got blackface in 2020?

— Affix_Projectile (@Xx_Pick_xX) December 26, 2020

I think Soul was a cute movie and I just refuse to critique it for racism or blackface or whatever lol. I want to mindlessly enjoy something for once, and soul didn’t have any glaring issues TO ME

— joanna levesque stan account (@littlekique) December 28, 2020

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I understand a lot of the criticisms about Soul but I felt like the movie made it very clear that 22 was not white or a woman, but simply an unborn soul. Voiced by a white woman, yes, but not a white woman.

— king crissle (@crissles) December 29, 2020

(spoiler) The thing about Soul is, it’s ludicrous that a white woman (Tina Fey) inhabited the body of a Black man within the movie, but someone at the highest levels of production decided that the movie wouldn’t sell unless Blackness was erased and inhabited by whiteness.

— Matthew D. Morrison (@DrMaDMo) December 30, 2020

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Not only does he get transformed into a blue soul, but (SPOILER) he also loses control of his body to Tina Fey’s character for a large part of the movie. It felt like a 21st century version of Blackface to me… And she already had racist moments in 30 Rock and Kimmy Schmidt.

— Super Freddy Art 🏳️‍🌈 ✊🏾💥 ⚡️ (@SuperFreddyArt) December 26, 2020

as much as i had fun with that movie i literally thought ‘hm but… but why… who thought ‘white woman voices black man’ is ok?’ multiple times

— Alex (netverk) 🌃🌠 (@netverk_) December 27, 2020

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Yes, Soul did a great job of capturing a slice of black life/black culture. But some people are deservedly weirded out that a white actress (who’s written blackface before) voiced a black man for a chunk of the film. If you’re white, it’s not your place to dismiss that critique.

— New Year’s Jeeve 🇲🇽🇪🇺🏳️‍🌈 (@jeeveswilliams) December 27, 2020

Counterpoint: It’s great to see Black people in movies especially animated ones (Spiderverse, Soul) without the point of the movie being about their Blackness.

Normalize stories about Black people just being people not vessels for sharing 𝙏𝙝𝙚 𝘽𝙡𝙖𝙘𝙠 𝙀𝙭𝙥𝙚𝙧𝙞𝙚𝙣𝙘𝙚. https://t.co/yLnYfs7kka

— Dare Obasanjo (@Carnage4Life) December 29, 2020

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