So much for living without apology in the land of make-believe.
Rather than remake some of the most classic and iconic animated full-length features put on film with acknowledgment of changing cultural opinions built-in, entertainment giant Disney is now putting a warning upfront:
The statement says:
“This program includes negative depictions and/or mistreatment of people or cultures. These stereotypes were wrong then and are wrong now. Rather than remove this content, we want to acknowledge its harmful impact, learn from it, and spark conversation to create a more inclusive future together. Disney is committed to creating stories with inspirational and aspirational themes that reflect the rich diversity of the human experience around the globe.”
And what movies will be headed up with this apology for living as things were at one time?
Lady and the Tramp (1955): Two Siamese cats, Si and Am, are depicted with anti-Asian stereotypes. There is also a scene at a dog pound where heavily-accented dogs all portray the stereotypes of the countries their breeds are from – such as Pedro the Mexican Chihuahua, and Boris the Russian Borzoi
The Aristocats (1970): A Siamese cat called Shun Gon, voiced by a white actor, is drawn as a racist caricature of an Asian person. He plays the piano with chopsticks
Dumbo (1941): A group of crows that help Dumbo learn how to fly have exaggerated stereotypical black voices. The lead crow is called Jim Crow – a reference to a set of racist segregationist laws in the southern US at the time – and he is voiced by a white actor, Cliff Edwards
Jungle Book (1968): The character of King Louie, an ape with poor linguistic skills, sings in a Dixieland jazz style and is shown as lazy. The character has been criticized for being a racist caricature of African-Americans
Peter Pan (1953): The film refers to Native people as “redskins”, a racist slur. Peter and the Lost Boys also dance in headdresses, which Disney now says is a “form of mockery and appropriation of Native peoples’ culture and imagery”. A song originally called “What makes the red man red” was also decried as racist – it was later renamed as “What makes the brave man brave”
Song of the South (1946): One of Disney’s most controversial movies, which has never been released on video or DVD in the US. Its depiction of plantation worker Uncle Remus perpetuates an old racist myth that slaves were happy in the cotton fields
No mention of portraying witches and women as the villains in any number of films, though.
It’s a sad day when a company like Disney makes such a concession without any demand for it. Frankly, those details frequently made films funny to adults.
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