12/30/16

Conversation Still Continues ...

...another response by LM along with my reply consisting of a mixture of humorous, serious and lighthearted comments.

LM:
Always a great scholar....

LV:
Thanks! (lol)

LM:
You're so deep in that academic bs [bachelor of science?] you've basically forgotten that you're doing nothing but disrespecting the honour of your own forefathers. 

LV:
Sorry for being “so deep” for you bro/sister. Actually no disrespect here, believe me.  I love and cherish my culture and heritage, hence our forefathers.  Conversely, if you’re really serious and adamant about flaunting your honor/respect for our forefathers, then you should be well-informed about a particular “prophecy” involving Malietoa when he was told to “tali i lagi [sona] malo”.  Basically “to look to the heavens for a form of government”. That was basically referring to the coming of the Christian missionaries who represent the institution you have been attacking and assailing.  That’s a good example of what I mean by being open-minded - and being wise and learned.  What that very “prophecy” means is that the path of your so-called  “conniving imperialist invaders” will eventually cross with our path as Samoans.  And therefore, who we are today and the type of society we have are results of some type of plan - not happenstance. In other words, you need to understand that in the grand scheme of things, we were not meant to live in complete isolation.That being said, however, we still need to understand how to separate the message from the messengers.   Incidentally, your worldview seems very narrow and shallow - not wide and deep.

LM:
You haven't presented anything new as well, this is just typical Victorian era writing style, full of grandiosity and downright xenophobic and condescending. If you honestly have an open mind then you would probably see things different, so far you're just following the crowd like a typical freshman. 

LV:
Well how about that new thing above (re: Malietoa), if you haven’t deduced a lot of other new things I’ve already presented?  By the way, me, xenophobic?  Let’s see, xenophobia is a dislike of or prejudice against people from other countries. So now you know who the xenophobic one is.  And while you’re the xenophobe, doing your xenophobic thing, I’m wowing - not following - the crowd, because I’m fresh! ... Man! ..hahaa.

LM:
You need to understand that I'm exercising "va fealoa'i" by defending the honour of our forefathers which you blissfully called "savages", is that your version of "perspective" or shall we call that 'ignorant'? The difference between you and me then is that I am prepared to see things from a different perspective while you're more than happy to follow century old prejudices which have no more credibility in this modern era.

LV:
Enough of your “va fealoa’i” fixation. As I said “va fealoa’i” is universal except for those who live the law of the jungle - survival of the fittest. If you’re really able to “see things from a different perspective”, as you said, then it’s time you wake up and see/smell the new iphone, the jet fuel, the keyboard you’re using to type your superficial responses, etc. Oh, did you really say the word “modern era”? Do you believe in such a thing? What constitutes a “modern era” for you?  You don’t have to answer that or you’ll experience an epiphany and be transposed into it (modern era).  And here I was thinking that  you were still living on Nuusafe’e as a savage and hermit.  Welcome to the modern era anyhow!

LM:
For the record, nobody is accusing or vilifying anyone, what I’ve presented are 'facts' something you should consider when writing your next academic essay. 

LV
And for the record too, I found this in your comments: “our forefathers suffered terribly from deceptions and were never prepared for the subtle destruction of our way of life by the conniving imperialist invaders.”  That is an accusation and vilification.  For your information, vilification is when you speak ill of, or slander someone.  And that’s a fact.  Speaking of facts, you seem to have this obsession with “facts”.  Well let me help you out on that. Facts, as a matter of fact, can be very useful, but can also be harmful.  For example, there are some facts about you that would help you and those that would also hurt you.  A double-edged sword, if you will. Yes, some of the “facts” you presented have actually come back to bite you in your facthive  As for the academic essay, I’ve abandoned that; I’ve come down a few notches to your level so that you can/will understand. And that’s a fact! (grin). 

LM:
I'm glad that you have time to research the meaning of "utopia", in my opinion the only place you will find perfection or utopia can only be Heaven. Well the only person that associated "va fealoa'i" and "utopia" is you, I see no evidence of anybody else making that mistake. So which village and itumalo was your lauded “Cleisthenes” from? Ahh I see, he’s a Greek philosopher meddling in other people’s business.

LV:
Yes it was a major research on the meaning of “utopia” - it took me a nanosecond. Just so you know, I had to quote the source for academic reasons, otherwise it’s intuition for me. For your benefit, Cleisthenes is to Democracy as Sir Thomas More is to Utopia.
Utopia and Va Fealoa’i (Mutual Respect) - I still can’t believe you would reject something that is understood using common sense, at the very least.  This goes to reveal a lot about your need of much learning, brother/sister.  Well, since you asked, let me give just a couple of quotes for evidence:

“According to Brennan, the five principles which he believes are necessary to form an ideal utopian society include voluntary community, mutual respect, reciprocity, social-justice and beneficence....”

“Utopia is a place where ... systems nurture the mutual respect and admiration of each other....”

Need more evidence? There’s thousands of such online, whether referring to More’s “Utopia” or experiments on creating a utopia. Why do I have a feeling that you do not quite understand what a “utopia” is?  I kahn’t buuhleaaave it!

LM
In order to move forward we need to acknowledge the past and accept the facts. Our forefathers were no scholars so they were duped into accepting democracy, I don’t know about you but that’s injustice if you ask me.

LV:
Our forefathers were duped?  No scholars? Really?  Do you know what you’re saying? You’re actually saying our forefathers, those who accepted our modern day (yes, modern, dude) government and independence, are not smart. You have just maligned, insulted and disrespected the members of the 1960 Constitutional Convention and all the founding fathers of our present form of government. Now you’re guilty of the very thing of which you accused me - disrespecting our forefathers.  It’s not injustice, but foresight on the part of the forefathers accepting democracy, and it’s ignorance on yours for saying they were duped. 

LM:
For your information, Fa’asamoa gave the Samoans of old equal opportunities and there were no rich or poor people, how about that foreign system you gleefully advocate? 

LV:
And for your information, you just told an egregious lie. 
Why is it that women are just now being given “equal opportunities”?  Maybe because they never had them to begin with?  And why was/is there a huge discrepancy in the ratio of male matais versus female ones?  Maybe because of the “not so equal opportunities” of the past?
Why was it that only matai were able to vote? Etc., etc., etc. Democracy is the key that opened the door to these opportunities, I guess. 

LM:
You made an assumption about an interrelationship between state and government, yet you could not really explain the role of church in Democracy. 

LV: 
Simple. The church’s role in a democracy is to be the source, provider and sponsor of morality.  And you don’t know that?  Anyway, it’s great conversing with you my friend. If I were you I would not respond to this, or you would be digging a deeper hole for yourself. 

Manuia le Tausaga Fou!

12/28/16

The Conversation Continues ...

So another interlocutor responded to my comments (re: previous “palagi” blog post) in the Samoa Observer. I’ve responded using the dialogue format for context, easy reading/reference and understanding. I submitted the original to the Observer but have since updated and added a few expounding points (this copy).  I’m using the respondent's initials (LM) along with mine (LV) here.

****************************************
LM: 
We have to remember that Democracy was an introduced system which was forced upon the people by imperialist invaders who were basically looking for riches to blunder [sic] from unsuspecting peace loving indigenous people around the world. Just like sexually transmitted diseases and influenza, our forefathers suffered terribly from deceptions and were never prepared for the subtle destruction of our way of life by the conniving imperialist invaders.

LV:
First, let’s start with a familiar academic/scholastic suggestion: Perspective. Perspective. Perspective. You seem to dwell unbendingly on the plunders and pillages of the papalagi (foreigners/”white man”). Your diction is one of accusation and vilification and therefore you’re slow to show a little open-mindedness and tolerance. You sound quite vengeful and resentful - if not patronizing.  Of course the so-called invaders with their three G’s (Glory, Gospel and Gold) banner committed some atrocities and other sins, and I understand your apparent never-ending grudges and grievances; but are they enough to justify the life-long animosity that you’re harboring?  C’mon.  I’m sure there has to be some good that has come about as a result of these past “building blocks” as disturbing as they may have been.

LM:
Yes, we have our own ways of doing things - the Fa’asamoa. Whether it was head hunting or wars or chasing red men out of Samoa, every event in history was basically a building block or “stages of development” or “evolution pattern” you allude to that defines our culture and society and our identity as Samoans.

LV:
True. Sometimes even bad experiences and events can contribute favorably to defining one’s culture and society as you said.  However, in the case of your far-flung positions, you need to be careful about using those events exclusively to spite the papalagi since you are bordering on, if not actively, advocating insularism, isolationism and ethnocentrism in the process.  All of them, in this day and age are feckless, vacuous and shortsighted.  Now, since we both agree on the “evolutionary” patterns of society, what, therefore, according to your seemingly informed historical prognostication, would have been an alternative and/or better path for Samoa’s evolution and development, sans the papalagi experience?  Or you would not want anything to do with the “conniving imperialist invaders”?

LM:
I think it’s very unfair to postulate that “va fealoa’i” can be equated to utopia because that is far from the Truth. Va fealoa’i is simply “Respect” and in a hierarchal[sic] indigenous culture like our culture, maintaining social order, social status and honour can only be achieved with “va fealoa’i” Our forefathers were never warmongers or blood thirsty savages as you painted but they only resort to war as a last resort to decide pressing issues (paramount chief) - they were noble warriors – not “noble savages”. European explorers/invaders of the last century use the term “savages” to describe conquered indigenous people all over the world.

LV:
Unless you’re trying to assign a radical or rudimentary  meaning to “utopia” other than its basic one of “a place of ideal perfection especially in laws, government, and social conditions,” according to Merriam-Webster, you simply cannot dissociate respect (va fealoa’i) from utopia. Respect has to be a key and binding value for those living in harmony in ideal/utopian social and other relationships. Moreover, “va fealoa’i” is a Samoan word, but the concept is universal and Christian, entrenched in the “do unto others ...” canon.  As I said, the flaw that you’re perpetrating is painting Samoa of the pre-contact years with a broad brush of bliss and blessedness. Inasmuch as I’d like to join with you in putting our pre-contact ancestors on your pedestal of “civilized”peace loving and noble warriors, I cannot - and will not. They still lacked many of the things that would have qualified them as equals of their European counterparts in terms of civilized culture. You’d have to swallow your pride and accept that. For example, one of the most important signs and characteristics of a civilized and advanced culture and society is a written language. Our ancestors did not have one; it was introduced. And that’s just one example.

LM:
It was a psychological fix to boost their egos but our ancestors were brilliant navigators and they navigate the sea by reading the stars, not the map so how can our ancestors be savages then?
Another thing worth noting is that in our culture, we never refer to the old days as the "dark days" or “dark ages” This is a flawed and perplexing stratagem by the Church to insinuate their superiority over indigenous cultures. If we are living in the ‘light ages’ why is the world still suffering savagery like the people of the so called “dark ages”?

LV:
Here’s a question, albeit slightly hypothetical: If the two cultures, Samoan and European, were left to separately and independently develop, by today, where do you think the Samoan culture/society would be in terms of advancement? We know where the European culture is, but what about the Samoan culture/society, again, without the fusion? Will we have already worn similar modern clothes of our own making or still wearing siapo and/or leaves?  Would we have already been communicating using similar technologies (phones, emails, texting, etc.) or are we still using drums to send messages?  I am very curious as to how different your own “palagi-less” version of Samoa than what it is today?  Actually, on a second thought, the overall query is not hypothetical - slightly or substantially.  Because we have a modern day example of societies that have been left on their own for thousands of years without outside influence.  I’m talking about the tribes in the jungles of the Amazon that even predate Samoan society by thousands of years.  You seem an informed enough person to know about these tribes. So perhaps the more poignant and stimulating question is: Today, would you rather live like the Amazon tribes or in modern day Samoa?  I hope you see my point because based on your obvious extreme anti-imperialistic positions, you would definitely opt for the former, I’m sure.

As for your denial of “aso o le pogisa” (dark days) reference by the Samoans, I'm sorry but that goes to show your lack of a general understanding about Samoa and Samoans.  If you're a true genuine Samoan, especially a Samoan Christian, then you would know that such a reference does exist.  You should therefore understand the meaning and godless connotation of these words "faapaupau", "pogisa", "tu faanu'u po", "ua ao Samoa", etc. The main reference and difference of course is Jesus Christ being the truth and the light.  Why don’t you ask the Samoans about the role of Jesus Christ in their lives?  And need I remind you that Jesus Christ was introduced by those conniving imperialist invaders?  Again, with your anti-palagi spiel, it’s all a matter of perspective as in one familiar analogy of a person looking at a rose bush, and whether he/she is focusing on the beauty of the flowers or the menace of the thorns. In our case, while you’re dwelling on the thorns and how menacing they are, I’m imbibing the fragrance and beauty of the flowers.  So in practical terms, while you’re angry and pestered by the complicity and connivance of the papalagi, I’m grateful for their constructive contributions and positive influence, and all the while still profoundly appreciative of my Samoan roots, mind you.

LM:
Fa’asamoa is a perfect system in its own environment, it was a system designed by the Samoans for Samoans and so was democracy to the Greeks. The issue with Democracy in Samoa is that, the population needs to be highly educated for them to understand the many complex facets of the system. With Fa'asamoa not completely decimated by the introduced system, the few intellectuals in government are wittingly traversing the blurred boundaries of Fa'asamoa and Democracy/Church to get away with 'dishonesty violations' committed under Democracy laws (OPC Report 2010).

LV:
I agree that the faa-Samoa is perfect in its own environment, but you need to remember that the environment keeps changing. Samoa of the 21st century is not conducive to the application of the faa-Samoa of the 1800's.  In fact the faa-Samoa of the 1800's is not the same as the faa-Samoa of the last fifty years. In other words, faa-Samoa can be relative and should be defined within a specific time backdrop for it to be intelligible.  As for democracy, it - in its simplest, direct and pure form - does not necessarily need a highly educated population as you said. In fact, Samoa is perhaps the ideal place for "pure" democracy. According to Cleisthenes and the Greeks, democracy works better, easier and more effectively in a small monistic and homogeneous society, like Samoa, compared to a country like America.  Therefore, if our system of government allows, we can easily elect our PM through a direct popular vote in a matter of minutes because of the smallness of area and population, and especially with the aid of modern technology.

LM:
If there’s an interrelationship between state and church under the watchful eyes of Democracy, then what exactly is the role of Church in Democracy and when exactly should they come into the big picture?

LV:
You have to understand the history of the church and politics; hence church and state - specifically the politicization of religion, historically and in modern times.  Remember that there was only the church throughout much of history and then it got politicized. Democracy guarantees certain freedoms one of which is the freedom of religion (church).  What is the role of religion in a democracy, you ask?  Well, religion (the church) is the source of morality in a democracy.  And that is extremely important.  Ironically and interestingly Samoa is going to be a stimulating case study which may provide more answers for your question. As you may have read recently (here) that the government will now amend the Constitution to provide for a state religion (Christianity), and so you will certainly be edified and kept apprised. And maybe surprised.

Finally, don’t get me wrong, I love and treasure my Samoan culture and heritage.  I’m “proud” of them. At the same time, I’m not one to dwell in the past especially on misdeeds, offenses or ill-treatment. Instead I press forward with hope and optimism - living, enjoying and feeling grateful for life’s offerings.  And as I said in another response of mine, the issues are broad and need to be examined, analyzed and weighed within their totality. An open-minded, educated and balanced perspective, perspective, perspective, I’m convinced, is always the better approach.  

E tatau lava ona fetalaa’i ma fefulifulia’i - ae le o le taotasi ma faauliulito - o manatu i mataupu ogaoga ma le lavelave e pei ona iai nei i le laulau o soalaupulega ma faafaletuiga. 

Sincerely and Open-mindedly!

12/22/16

Those Damn Palagi ("white man"). Huh?

I was reading this column in the Samoa Observer (excerpts below), to which some have responded in support of it.  It was written as a "tribute" to the Human Rights Day celebration.  There is definitely an underlying anti-foreigners/papalagi and somewhat extreme tone to the article - the typical colonial mentality that natives and indigenous people have been exploited and corrupted by the “white man”.  I grew up in Samoa at the time this viewpoint was prevalent.  I was somewhat enticed by it though not completely converted to the idea. Not that I’m fia-palagi (wannabe white), or anything, but the broad issue needs to be examined, analyzed and weighed within its totality.  An open-minded, educated and balanced perspective, I’m convinced, is always the better approach.

Excerpts: 
Human Rights Day ...presents us, tagata Samoa, with an opportunity to reflect on the state of our own human rights as indigenous people and host culture.
To understand our present, as an indigenous people and as a sovereign indigenous nation, we have to look into our past in terms of our relationship with foreign interests.
 ... the papalagi did more than co-exist with our ancestors,... they wanted our ancestors, (tagata Samoa) to be like them (papalagi). In spite of the alofa and much hospitality extended to them, papalagi still maintained, our ancestors were less of human beings, uncivilized, “noble savages” and to a large extent a burden upon which they, only they, (the white man) have the divine and moral obligation to transform and civilize. This was the primary purpose of Christian missionary work since the arrival of Christianity in 1830.
Foreign interests and his twin brother foreign investors are direct descendants of Christianity.  [Our ancestors’] resilience and dignity had persevered in the face of lies of assimilation by Christian churches.
 ...maintaining the va fealoa’i in our Samoan cultural heritage offers us genuine peace and joy in love (alofa), forgiveness (faamagalo) and humility (agamalu/loto maualalo), integrity (tausi mamalu) and reciprocity (osi aiga). These are divine indigenous Samoan values inherent in our indigenous rights as indigenous people.
____________________________________
My Comments:

Interesting column/opinion and responses.  There’s one word that is conspicuously, hence surprisingly, missing from the discussion, much to the chagrin of any political, religious and human rights apologist.  The word is “democracy”. Democracy is the umbrella under which  issues like state, church and human rights/freedoms merge especially when discussed within the context of their collective inter-relationships.

The opinion by Mr. Ale seems to be underpinned by anti-imperialism sentiments of the past - and of the present, albeit more subdued and suppressed.

Societies, in general, go through phases and stages of development. They all start with some type of primitive stage (tribe, clan, village, etc) often living under natural laws.  Status-based societies often emerge and social and political classes/ hierarchies are naturally formed, and sometimes along gender lines. Soon a social contract brings people together and form governments mainly for protection and preservation. This is the evolution pattern into which we can fit Samoa.

Democracy, in one of its ideal roles and functions, is to quash the hierarchical and status-based groups.  And this is where we find the dilemma and conundrum that Samoa faces today. Samoa is still heavily stratified and status-based, and that makes her somewhat antagonistic toward democratic reforms. Sometimes we get indecisive and ambivalent and so we togi le moa ae u’u le ‘afa (let go of the chicken but still hold onto the string).  We embrace new democratic ideals, but still yearn for our “divine indigenous values and rights”. We even become like the Israelites of old in believing that they were better off in Egypt than in the wilderness.  Sometimes, as a country, we are meant to be in a “wilderness” - a metaphor for reform, renewal and recommitment.  Some have even proposed a cultural democracy as a solution and compromise.  Effectively, cultural democracy may very well be the phase where Samoa is presently.

But we also need to remember that things have not always been “divine” and dandy in bygone times, as posited.  There wasn’t always a “va fealoa’i” and/or “paradisal” utopian living before the papalagi.  We had our own culture of inter/intra violence.  Headhunting, warfare among tribes and families (as noble savages) were common. Indeed, I firmly believe that some of the lofty and virtuous aspects of our “culture” that we’re touting were also heavily influenced by foreign forces, especially Christianity.  In fact many of the "indigenous values" listed in the last paragraph are universal, if not patently Christian, and not exclusively Samoan either. Moreover, we Samoans often refer to pre-missionary years as “aso o le pogisa” (“dark days”- our own version of the “dark ages”) and “faapaupau” (savagery).  And so we need to have some contextual time references when referring and talking about culture, otherwise we fall into the trap of mistakenly painting the whole pre-papalagi times with a broad brush of bliss and blessedness.  The column seems to have this nuance and overtone.

Democracy, as we all know, is not perfect, but it’s “perfect” for us today.  Winston Churchill puts it best when he said that Democracy is the worst form of government except for all those that have been tried. So let’s not bully the modern state and church and incriminate the papalagi in a close-minded fashion. I’m sure the institutions, in and of themselves, are good with honorable objectives and goals but maybe the people running them are the real “noble savages” (pun strongly intended).  That’s where our real focus should be.

Lastly, the main difference between “indigenous human rights” and modern human rights is that the former are more about the rights of the group/community while the latter have more to do with rights of the individual.  Ponder that for whatever it is worth in the context of the column, since there seems to be a conflation of the two in there.

Faafetai

Almost Christmas II

... over this past weekend Dearie and daughters were putting up some final Christmas ornamentation for our home.






















12/15/16

12/11/16

Maui Needs to Maui

Yes the title is correct; it’s not supposed to read “Maui Needs to [be] Maui” (be himself), as some may assume. I’ll explain later.

Based on the so-called hero’s journey model, and therefore according to movie and literature
archetypes, the hero/protagonist is Moana, the mentor is Maui, Tala is the herald, Heihei is the trickster, the Kakamora (three coconuts) as threshold guardians, Tamatoa as the shapeshifter/threshold guardian, and Te Ka as the antagonist/villain/threshold guardian.

Moana and Maui - foils
So far, most Polynesians who don’t seem to like Moana, the movie, are critical of - and repulsed by - Maui, and how he is depicted and portrayed as a Polynesian demigod, let alone a “Polynesian male” (quotes being used purposely). And so what’s their beef, you ask?  Well, they say Maui is not buff, instead he’s beefy/bulky, obese, buffoonish and a blunderer. Baloney, some of them say. And their main outcry and wish is that “Maui needs to maui.”

Now let me digress, if not to address and express.

First of all, Maui (proper noun/name) is pronounced “Muh-wee” ( not “Mow- wee”)  with a short /a/ in the Polynesian vowel pronunciation. The second “maui” (verb) is pronounced “mah-oo-ee”, (with a long /a/) which, in Samoan,  means “shrink” or “deflate”.  A receding tide, a deflated balloon and a shrinking lump or stomach all are said to “maui”, hence “Maui needs to maui” is, simply, “Maui needs to shrink”. Call it a semantic coincidence or a namesake blooper, yet the pair still has a nice ring to it with, hopefully, a profound and deep twist in the context of this review. Anyhow, let’s see if we can deflate the debate.

If I were to grant the Maui critics and disparagers some consolation in their opposition, it would have to be the disproportion and variance between the godly Maui of the myths versus the ungodly Maui of the movie - again, not necessarily in the sense or context of Maui’s physical size.

Traditionally, according to Polynesian myths, Maui is a god/demigod, or a “half-god”. He is quite versatile in his traditional roles.  He is associated with fighting or stealing fire, snaring the sun, fishing up islands, conquering volcanoes, setting off earthquakes, etc.  He is also associated  with bird life, not migratory or sea birds, but a unique colorful bird into which he changes sometimes - as in the movie. Indeed, Maui changing into a bird, and other forms, therefore, is not a Disney creation/innovation. The transformation is original. Maui is similar to Thor, Hercules and other big screen “gods”. Physically, Maui is, more often than not, a young adult, strong, sculpted, handsome and talented, the ideal male archetype. This is the Maui many Polynesians want to see.

Although I too would love to see a similar portrayal, I’m convinced, however, that it’s by design by the film-makers that Maui is portrayed the way he is in the movie - notably for the sake of Moana, the character and the movie.

In the movie, Maui is a quasi omnipotent character. Besides being a mentor, he is easily a herald, shapeshifter, threshold guardian, and a trickster as well.

But Maui also plays perhaps a much more important and key, yet subtle, role. He is a foil to Moana. (In fiction, a foil is a character who contrasts with another character (usually the protagonist) in order to highlight particular qualities of the other character ~ Wikipedia)  So Maui in Moana is NOT necessarily Maui the Polynesian demigod, in other words.  His main role is to make Moana look good (pun intended).

If Maui in the movie is like Maui the demigod in the myths, then Moana will be a different movie.  It will not be about Moana but about Maui. Remember that the movie name is “Moana” not “Maui”. It’s all about Moana. If Maui is to be portrayed as his true original self, then Moana will be dwarfed, marginalized and overshadowed.  Maui will fight every battle and overcome all challenges for Moana.  He’s a god, for heaven’s sake. As a result Moana will not be challenged and tested according to the hero’s journey blueprint.  Moana will not be Moana. If you inflate Maui, you deflate Moana, in other words. Maui is the one that needs to maui (deflate/shrink).

Throughout the movie we don’t see Maui upstaging Moana. Moana has the upper hand, so to speak, even as a protege of Maui. And lest we forget, she’s the one, not Maui, who returns Te Fiti’s heart, although Maui is the one who steals it to begin with. As a true demigod, in an ideal storyline and script, Maui is supposed to and quite capable of returning the heart, but he doesn’t. Here, Maui is again maui and Moana magnified.

In line with the foil literary device, we have Maui the man versus Moana the woman. Maui the god versus Moana the mortal. Maui relying externally on his fishhook for strength and power, versus Moana as being inwardly courageous, resourceful and mostly “self taught”.  Maui's arrogance versus Moana's confidence. Maui doing something bad (stealing the heart) versus Moana doing good in returning it. The makers of the movie, I think, want us to identify more with Moana the mortal, not Maui. Men, or Polynesian men for that matter, should not try to identify with Maui either - physically or otherwise.  He comes across as having a typical man’s ego, one that is occasionally deflated in the movie. He’s arrogant and condescending to Moana (therefore to women? ...hmm).  Actually though he is a god, powerful and strong, Moana is definitely the stronger, persistent, vigilant, confident and more tenacious of the two.

When Maui descends to Tamatoa’s abode (Pulotu/Hades) to retrieve his fishhook, he thinks he can do it alone until he finds out that he needs Moana’s help.  In fact he is surprised that Moana is even able to follow him into the underworld. I’m sure, for Maui, as they both return and surface back to the boat, seawater is easier to swallow than his pride. During much of the subsequent and final battle with Te Ka, Maui is conspicuously absent and even more dependent on his fishhook. Conversely, Moana fights Te Ka using her own skills, resourcefulness and wits.  Again, Maui shrinks while Moana shines.

Moreover, the legendary Maui is a young stud and a heartthrob. Okay, stop! Hold that image. That’s the very image that most Polys want Maui to be. But that’s even more problematic too. Say that we put that same sexy and sculpted Maui right next to Moana. (I hope you know where I’m going with this.) And Bingo! We have Maui and Moana, a Polynesian Ken and Barbie. And so now we have a whole new story, a whole new movie and something that is anything BUT Moana.  Disney doesn’t want that, and we don’t want that.  This is Moana’s moment, Maui will have to wait for his.

All in all, I think Maui in the movie is more a distorted but inflated hologram than his reputed god/demigod self.  If he is the latter, then at least one of his parents is a god (like Tagaloa, his father, in some versions of the myth), but according to the movie both his father and mother are mortals. And that makes him a mortal too, or just a wannabe god.  Either way, Muhwee mahooee!

Maui needs to shrink? He actually does, though not physically but in a profound and deep-as-the-moana sense. And so for those who do not like Maui portrayed as an obese guy, and want him to maui, physically, they would have to wait for "Maui: The Movie" which I’m sure Disney is/should be planning and in the mold of Hercules, Thor and others.  Then we will see the real Maui of the Polynesian myths. But Disney better hurry before The Rock shrinks.

Have a Maui Christmas! (as in "demi-divine").