Hidden Racism Within Disney Movies
Is there hidden racism within Disney movies? Do those hidden racist messages impact how children look at people in society?
- Disney movies are perceived as wholesome entertainment that is a part of every person's childhood. When you think of Disney as a child you often think of princesses, princes and happily ever afters. You don't think "racism" do you? Well its not expected that you would. Racism in Disney movies is only relevant to people who understand what racism is. As a child you can't pick out a character in a movie that has a different accent than the rest and pin point them as a racist character. So you have to sit back and think, is Disney intentionally racist or are they simple making movies for the sole entertainment for children. Deep down under all the love and life lessons what really is the message that Disney is trying to say? Some argue that there is intentional racism in many of the Disney movies. Up until this subject came to my attention I had no idea this hidden racism was even there; I’m sure most people feel the same way and never gave it a thought.
- Racist characters, statements, and gestures within Disney movies may mean little to children but are often offensive to certain racial groups. People argue that minorities in Disney films are portrayed as the "bad" guys or people that are not "normal.'
- Jafar from the movie Aladdin is here depicted as far more Arab looking than his fare-skinned blue-eyed co-star Aladdin.
- In case you are unfamiliar with some of the racism within Disney, I will give you some background information on why Disney is accused of being racist. Some people believe that there are racial undertones hidden in some movies made by Walt Disney Animation. Some believe there are simply racist characters. There are many controversial characters within the cast of Disney movies: the merchant from Aladdin, Sebastian and the fish from The Little Mermaid, the crows from Dumbo, King Louie from the Jungle Book, Sunflower the Centaur from Fantasia, and the Siamese cats from Lady and the Tramp. Many of these characters are controversial in different ways. Every one of these characters is "stereotyped" in a different way as well. The Indians from Peter Pan are depicted as red skinned and seem to always be smoking something, whereas the Merchant from Aladdin said in the opening song that merchants were vial and brutal beings that will cut off your ear if they don't like you face. I have watched Aladdin it seems close to a million times, but never have I noticed that particular line in the movie. The Indians from peter pan are also a great example, for when a young child were to think of an Indian I believe that this is exactly what a child would envision. But when you put it in front of an audience of adults things have a different meaning. A child's view on the world wasn't taught to them solely from Disney movies though. It was taught to them through all aspects of life. The older Disney movies most likely contributed a little bit in there own ways.
- Not very often is Disney racist within the context of the movie, but more within their characters. Most Disney movies have a strong positive message that is meant to be inspiring to young children. Although, to some people their characters can cause controversy. Early on when Disney first started to make films they used young beautiful white women that had had childhood fantasies, innocent dreams, and a happily ever after. But when it came to making movies about other ethnicity's they portrayed them as what some claim they are not.
- Some of the top Racist Disney movies and characters consist of:
- The centaur from Fantasia is one of Disney's most blatantly obvious racist characters. She is depicted as darker than all the other centaurs, is wearing huge hoop earrings, and has stereotypical African America features such as big lips and braided hair, and hoop earnings. Not only is this character considered racist but she is also shown serving on the white centaur as some sort of slave. This shows people Disney believed that even in a movie full of animals that whites were superior to blacks.
- The Indians from the movie Peter Pan are very much racist to Native Americans. They are shown as red skinned men in large headdresses singing and dancing around a fire. In one scene from the movie Peter, Wendy, and the boys ask the Indians why do they ask you "how?" According to the song, it's because the Native American always thirst for knowledge. Okay, that's not so bad, I guess. Next they ask them What makes them red? The song states that a long time ago, an Indian blushed red when he kissed a girl, and ever since it's been a part of their genetic make up. It seems they are giving reasons to why they have a different skin color and that they used to be white but now they are not considered "normal."
- The Siamese cats from the movie the Lady and the Tramp have a very distinct Asian stereotype look and feel to them. From their introduction, the two cats (Si & Am) are shown with slanted eyes, extremely emphasized to show there difference from the other characters. Their use of the English language is terrible and is directed towards obvious stereotypes of Asians as well. They are also portrayed as cats which some people say are often seen as malicious, conniving and horrible creatures that are always very mysterious and sneaky.
- In 1967 Disney decides to portray African Americans as monkeys. All animals in the jungle speak in proper British accents. Except, of course, for the jive-talking, gibberish-spouting monkeys. King Louie sings a song about how he wants to be "normal" and how he wants to be human. He sings, "I want to be like you. Oh, yes, it's true. I want to walk like you, talk like you do. ... An ape like me can learn to be human, too." Some people believe that this is referring to blacks as not normal and how they wish they were more like whites.
- The opening musical sequence from Aladdin which was released in 1992 had to be edited due to protest from Arab-American groups. The opening song said, "I come from a land from a far away place, where the caravan camels roam. Where they cut off your ear if they don't like your face, it's barbaric but, hey, it's home!" Also some say that Aladdin is more westernized than what he should be. In a city full of Arabic men and women he is depicted as a midwestern-accented white male with blue eyes. You are able to tell the difference when Aladdin is shown standing next to a more ethnic looking Jafar, who just happened to be the villain in the story. Many people often use this example when trying to prove that minorities in Disney movies are depicted as the bad guys and how the main characters are often more "white" looking.
- It seems that Latinos are constantly portrayed as chihuahua's. Oliver and Company is the story of a kitten that is taken in by a gang of dogs that survive the streets by stealing and causing mischief. The main theme of Oliver and Company is the importance of friendship and loyalty, but this is not portrayed through a specific character. Tito is a Latino Chihuahua whose main role in the movie is humor. He is the center of many funny scenes, but some of his lines are supposed to be funny not because of what he says but because of how he says them. His Latino accent is over-dramatized and is supposed to be funny, which suggests that a Latino accent is not "normal" when it comes to New York City where the story takes place. Another way this film is being racist towards Latinos is shown merely by Tito’s actions. His job and sole purpose within the gang is to steal cars. Disney is basically saying that they believe that Latinos should be portrayed as troublemakers and delinquents that can not be trusted. Some people have the belief that when minorities possess different and unequal traits in is considered racism, but is it really?
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