In the last 100 years Disney has created unforgettable animated films. Most of these are timeless classics that will likely be watched and enjoyed for another 100 years. But some of the moments in those movies are… well, not that timeless and have aged a lot since the movie’s release. These films reflect perceptions of controversial times and feature characters and scenes that would never work in today’s world. There are questionable actions, inappropriate behavior, and instances of cultural insensitivity. Other times, it’s just plain racism. It’s shocking to see those moments now, knowing that Disney once had no problem with them.
Aware of these troublesome moments, the House of Mouse has inserted disclaimers at the beginning of these films on Disney+ to warn its viewers of what lies ahead. But no matter what the studio does now, those moments are etched in stone forever. Meanwhile, the world continues to advance, evolve, and change—hopefully for the better. Here are ten moments from Disney animated films that have aged more like sour milk than fine red wine.
10 Pleasure Island in Pinocchio (1940)
Carlo Collodi’s fantastic children’s fairy tale, The Adventures Of Pinocchio, has been adjusted several times over the years. But Walt Disney’s cartoon classics, Pinocchio, remains the best of all. 83 years later, it’s still considered one of Disney’s greatest animated films — although there’s one scene that hasn’t aged quite as much. During Pinocchio’s adventures, he and other mischievous little boys are kidnapped to Pleasure Island. In this dark version of Disney World, there are no parents and no rules, so the boys can lose themselves in the vices of Pleasure Island. They smoke cigars, drink beer and get drunk. These are scenes that Disney would do never into a film today – and they’ve proven it. Your boring live-action adaptation of Pinocchio Cut out all those vices that made the bad kids look good compared to the animated original.
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9 The Non-Consensual Kiss in The Sleeping Beauty (1959)
sleeping Beauty follows a princess named Aurora who is cursed into eternal sleep. The only way to break this curse is with true love’s kiss. Prince Phillip enters the scene: he kills a sorceress-turned-dragon and brings the princess back to life with a kiss, leading both to their eternal happiness. There’s just one problem: Aurora was sleeping during the kiss and couldn’t give her consent. Don’t say no to Prince Phillip just yet, though. The marriage between him and Aurora was arranged at the beginning of the film when the princess was just a baby, which makes this scene a little less creepy. And what should Prince Phillip really do? Turn over and leave Aurora trapped in eternal sleep? That doesn’t seem like the best alternative. Regardless, this moment is an absolute taboo in today’s world, mostly because Aurora couldn’t actually say the word “no.”
8 “Arabian Night” lyrics in Aladdin (1992)
Pictures from Buena Vista
Aladdin Considered one of Disney’s best animated films. Although the voice was completely white (a big taboo in 2023), Aladdin showed the audience a whole new world by focusing on diverse people and cultures. But the representation of that culture has not always been appropriate. Aladdin begins with the iconic song “Arabian Nights”. One of the original lyrics read, “Where they cut off your ear if they don’t like your face/It’s barbaric but hey it’s home.” This caused significant backlash from the Arab community, prompting Disney to revise the lyrics to “Where it’s flat and huge and the heat is intense/It’s barbaric but hey it’s home”. Apparently they just couldn’t let go of the word “barbaric”.
7 “Song of the Rousabouts” in Dumbo (1941)
Very few people appear in Disney’s animated classic dumbo But the ones we see are not presented in the best light. The Rousabouts are workers who help set up the traveling circus. Though they claim to be “cheerful,” the henchmen sing questionable lyrics like “We Slaves Till We’re Almost Dead,” “Boss man houndin’,” and “Grab that rope, you hairy monkey!” Those lyrics might not be so bad if the henchmen weren’t all black; there is not a single white character among them. This portrayal exudes racist sentiments, but sadly it isn’t dumbos greatest offense.
6 The Black Centaurettes in Fantasia (1940)
Back in 1940, Disney’s fantasy was a unique cinematic experiment that combined classical music with animated sequences. When people think about it Fantasy, they tend to think about it the sorcerer’s apprentice, where Disney’s flagship character Mickey Mouse dons the iconic wizard hat. They never think of the blatant racism in The Pastoral Symphony segment, and with good reason. Its racist undertones were removed in later releases of the film. In this section we meet two centaurettes named Sunflower and Otika who are offensive caricatures of African Americans. They both come across as primitive and inferior, especially when they start grooming and caring for the much larger and less cartoon-looking white centaurets.
5 Asian stereotype in The Aristocats (1970)
The Aristocats it’s about cats. It spans many different races, although the film crosses the line on one of them. Shun Gon is a Siamese who embraces Asian stereotypes. He has slanted eyes and plays the piano with chopsticks. The white actor who voices him gives him an exaggerated Chinese accent. And there’s a shot where Shun Gon wears a cymbal like a Chinese hat on his head. The Siamese cats from Lady and the tramp fall into this trap too, although their portrayal doesn’t come across as racist as Shun Gon’s. The Aristocats receives Disney’s live-action adaptation and is directed by Questlove. Something tells us that there will be no Asian stereotypes in this version.
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4 Jim Crow in Dumbo (1941)
Who knew a movie about a cute little elephant with oversized ears could be so problematic? On Dumbo’s journey, he encounters a group of crows with African-American stereotypes, from their clothing to their personalities to their fast-speaking dialect. All of the crows are voiced by African American artists except for the main crow – and therein lies a lie dumbos biggest problem. This character’s name is Jim Crow, a startling and offensive reference to the Jim Crow laws that enforced racial segregation in the southern states in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. His name is never mentioned in the film, But that didn’t stop the world from finding out. Sometime in the 1950s, more than ten years later dumbos Upon release, Disney changed the character’s name to Dandy Crow — a classic case of “too little, too late.”
3 Indians in Peter Pan (1953)
Disney’s Peter Pan (the animated film, not this terrifying live-action reboot) is considered one of the best adaptations of JM Barrie’s iconic story — but the film is far from perfect. This film combines fairies with pirates with extremely racist depictions of Native Americans. These characters refer to themselves as Native Americans and Red Men, both of which are offensive terms to Native Americans. Even their only song in the film is called “What Made the Red Man Red?” Also, in the same scene, the Native American chief shares his tobacco and pipe with Peter Pan and the other children. For several terrifying minutes, we watch these characters bang drums, dance around and sing these racist lyrics while children smoke tobacco in the background. It’s one of Disney’s most outrageous moments, but also one of its worst performances.
2 Non-consensual kiss in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)
RKO radio images
As the first full-length animated film of all time Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is a legendary achievement. But like her sleeping Beauty His counterpart is Snow White, who is cursed into eternal sleep and is only awakened from it by a non-consensual kiss. In the wake of the historic #MeToo movement, women everywhere have come together to speak out against sexual assault. They stood up for victims who had no voice, including Snow White and Sleeping Beauty. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs receives Disney’s live-action adaptation and is scheduled to hit theaters in 2024. This adaptation is reportedly making changes to the original story, and the famous non-consensual kiss is said to be one of them.
1 Song of the South (1946)
RKO radio images
song of the south is probably Disney’s most controversial work. Despite being live-action, the film’s animated sequences and characters qualify for this list. It is set after the Civil War and the abolition of slavery. song of the south is packed with racial stereotypes about African Americans, from their costumes to their over-the-top speech to their subservient status in society. In this case, a pre-credits disclaimer was not enough; The entire film had to be removed from Disney+. Go ahead and look for the streaming service. You’ll never be able to find it.
One of the most famous rides at Disney World and Disneyland, Splash Mountain, is based on this film. The animated characters appear throughout the ride, singing the film’s iconic song “Zip-a-dee-doo-da”. But Splash Mountain was canceled (literally) when the racism behind the ride idea became public knowledge. It is currently being converted into a new attraction based on it the princess and the frog, a fitting update given the ride’s dubious history.
Source : movieweb.com