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DUMBO: Underlying themes of racism, animal cruelty, and drug

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Ashley Cross

on 3 June 2014

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Transcript of DUMBO: Underlying themes of racism, animal cruelty, and drug

Racism, continued.
The crows.
The crows are also seen laughing loudly.
This is a common stereotype of black people being extremely loud and obnoxious.
The crows are seen smoking cigars.
This is a stereotype that all black males smoke.
The head crow, Jim the Crow.
Jim the Crow. Jim Crow. Sound familiar? It should. The Jim Crow Laws were prevalent from 1876-1965.
The Jim Crow Laws were segregation laws that outlawed racial discrimination.
When did I first watch this film?
I first watched Dumbo when I was around 2 or 3. Obviously, as a young child, I viewed Dumbo to be this miraculous film with hope that one can achieve the impossible as long as you have the help of your friends and someone else to believe in you. As I re-watch Dumbo at age 16, I realize that is hardly the case.
Let's talk about the crows...
Right off the bat, you realize that the crows have black stereotypical tendencies, as well as a vocal approach.
The crows use phrases such as "I be done seen about everything." and "I ain't never seen no elephant fly."
This shows the stereotype of bad grammar of black men in the 1940s.
The raggedy clothes the crows wear, such as broken hats, vests, and inadequate socks shows the myth of black people not having money and how they are forced to wear, so to speak, 'rags'.
Let's talk about racism!
The circus workers.
The circus workers are obviously of black decent.
The song is titled "Song of the Roustabouts"
The definition of a roustabout is an unskilled or casual laborer.
The following excerpts are from "Song of Roustabouts"
"We work all day, we work all night, we never learned to read or write, were happy-hearted roustabouts."
"When other folks have gone to bed, we slave until were almost dead."
More racism!
The circus workers continued.
"We don't know when we get our pay, and when we do, we throw our pay away."
"Muscles aching, back near breaking, boss man hounding, keep on pounding."
What's wrong with the lyrics? It holds obvious racial stereotypes, such as not knowing how to read or write, throwing away their money, etc.
The circus workers do not have faces. Why is this?
It is to show unimportance and the fact that the black workers are literally faceless to the white workers who work during the day.
DUMBO: Underlying themes of racism, animal cruelty, and drug references.
Drug References.
The Pink Elephants on Parade.
Seeing pink elephants is a euphemism for hallucinations caused by alcoholic hallucinogenics or delirium tremens.
This song alludes to drug references, especially Acid.
There is a common myth that when on acid, one sees pink elephants.
However, to get to the pink elephants, Dumbo and Timothy drink champagne.
Obviously, in a children's movie, they aren't going to ingest acid.
So, as recorded in 1912, one also sees pink elephants from alcohol hallucinations, which is just as horrible.
Animal Cruelty.
Animal cruelty is shown in many cases.
Forcing the animals to set up the circus.
In the beginning of the film, the elephants, camels, and black workers set up the circus. In the rain. At night time.
Dumbo's mother, Jumbo, is chained, whipped, and locked in a cage much too small without food or water.
Dumbo is forced to wear clown makeup and apparel.
Dumbo is also forced to jump out of a two story building. While it's on fire, and into a pie.
Young boys visiting the circus pull Dumbo's tail and make a mockery of him.
Dumbo contains scenes of graphic animal cruelty, horrifying drug allusions, and racism oblivious to children
To condense...
With the use of crows and literal slave workers, Dumbo shows racism.
With whipping, ridicule, and the forcing to wear clothes and makeup, animal cruelty is shown.
Finally, using a subtle hint of drug and alcohol hallucinogenics, it is obvious that Dumbo and Timothy get--as teenagers say nowadays--
Turnt up.
What is Dumbo about?
Dumbo was released in 1941 by Walt Disney Productions. Dumbo is based on the book written by Helen Aberson and illustrated by Harold Pearl. The main character is Jumbo Jr., a young elephant who is cruelly nicknamed "Dumbo" and ridiculed for his big ears. He soon learns that he is capable of flying by using his ears as wings. Throughout most of the film, his only true friend, aside from his mother, is the mouse, Timothy — which is an odd relationship, considering the fact that elephants are thought to fear mice.
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