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Disney Animated Films: Are these movies good or bad?
Transcript of Disney Animated Films: Are these movies good or bad?
By: Xochitl Lopez
Once upon a time, ever since we were little kids, we have been introduced to the magical world of Disney and the Walt Disney Movie Empire...
Even if we're not fans, through commercial media, at some point in our lives, we will be exposed to a Disney movie.
From the first full length animated film
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
that came out in theaters December 21, 1937...
To the most recent production of
Big Hero 6
that was released November 7, 2014...
Disney Magic has come a long way, and has spread across the world and into our hearts...
These movies have made us laugh...
Walt Disney World
in Orlando, Florida
Across the sea to Paris...
...to the rest of the world
They have made us cry...
But most importantly, they have made us dream.
Help! Somebody... anybody...
These animated features seem to be innocent, kid-friendly films for the whole family.
The question is, are these movies really appropriate for children?
Or is there something wrong with exposing kids with these films?
Hand Drawn to CGI
Let's start with the movie
"We work all day, we work all night
never learned to read or write
We're happy-hearted Roustabouts"
until we're almost dead"
"Keep on working, stop that shirking,
grab that rope,
you hairy ape
Song of the Roustabouts
Grad Night 2013
Disney Pop Culture
My research has shown that some Disney animated Films contain racist stereotypes, sexual subliminal messages, and sexist views on the characters.
Children are the targeted audience to these films and should therefore have kid-friendly content.
The stork delivers Mrs. Jumbo a beautiful baby elephant whom she calls Jumbo, Jr.
Her baby is cruelly nicknamed Dumbo for his unusually large ears.
At the circus, Mrs. Jumbo is angered when a kid makes fun of Dumbo
Because she tried to defend him, they were separated.
The lyrics to the "Song of the Roustabouts" clearly discriminates against the characters.
Sexual Images in Disney Films
Let's take a look at the
Experiencing hard labor
Following orders of the "
: a worker in an oil field, at a circus, etc., whose job requires strength but little skill
On a related note: Last, but not least, take a look at the crows
With the help of Timothy Q. Mouse, Dumbo's friend and mentor, the movie centers on Dumbo's goal of being reunited with his mother.
The Time Period when this film was released: October 31, 1941
This was the norm
Disney Dreams Cruise Line
And to Tokyo...
Aulani: Disney Hawaii Resort
Sounds innocent right?
Let's take a closer look:
Analysis of the Crows
There are five crows: Preacher Crow, Straw Hat Crow, Fat Crow, Glasses Crow, and their leader Jim.
All voiced by African Americans,
for Jim, who is voiced by a white actor, Cliff Edwards, who is also the voice of Jiminy Cricket.
Followers of Jim Crow
Use ebonics (Black English)
The fact that they use
is offensive. Jim Crow is often used to "describe the segregation laws, rules and customs that arose after the Reconstruction ended in 1877, and used until the mid-1960s"
Black Minstrelsy is an "exploitative form of musical theater that exaggerated real-life black circumstances and reinforced dangerous stereotypes during the 19th and 20th centuries."
Case of Jim Crow approval and use of Black Minstresy
On the positive note however, these crows are the only characters to show Dumbo any sympathy.
They help Dumbo to learn how to fly with his ears which caused him to become famous and ultimately reunites with his mother.
The fact that Jim Crow is voiced by a white actor that is stereotypically speaking like Southern African Americans makes this
The fact that Jim is dressed as poor, and seems uneducated, makes a stereotype that all black people are this way, which is not true.
Why did Disney put Jim Crow as the leader? Is it a coincidence that the rest of the crows are voiced by African Americans?
Based on what has been shown, it could be a
for black people to follow what White people want.
Fun fact, the voice of Fat Crow is James Baskett, who played Uncle Remus in
Song of the South,
which is known to be the most racist Disney film. He was the first African American actor to receive an Oscar.
Other racist ethnic stereotypes in different Disney films.
Disney tells the story of Quasimodo, the deformed bell-ringer of the Cathedral of Notre Dame and his struggle to gain acceptance into society.
Quasi was raised by his master, Frollo, a cruel despicable judge who raised him locked away from the rest of the world making him think that he is a monster.
Thankfully, with the help of his friends: the gargoyles, the beautiful gypsy Esmeralda, and honorable Captain Phoebus, Quasi overcomes his insecurities and defeats Frollo.
Sexual Imagery in
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
FROLLO and ESMERALDA
Frollo could be considered Racist. He hates the gypsies in Paris; Frollo even killed Quasimodo's mother after chasing her down. He hates them all, except for one: Esmeralda.
In three different scenes, Frollo reveals his lust for Esmeralda (Remember that this is G rated film!)
First scene: Inside the cathedral
After defending Quasimodo at the Festival of Fools, Esmeralda hides inside the cathedral in search of a sanctuary where Frollo can't find her.
He wants her but he also wants to kill her. After grabbing her from behind and sniffing her hair, Frollo states, "I was just imagining a rope around that beautiful neck. "
Analysis of the Lyrics
"You know I am a
of my virtue I am justly proud"
"Beata Maria, You know I'm so much purer than the common, vulgar, weak,
is turning me to
"Destroy Esmeralda and let her taste the fires of
! Or else
let her be mine and mine alone
"I'll find her if I have to burn down all of Paris!"
"..God have mercy on me, but
she will be mine or she will burn
Licentious: (adj) lacking legal or moral restraints; especially : disregarding sexual restraints
Licentious, Hell, Desire, Sin: All adult concepts
Shows Frollo's intense lust for Esmeralda, and if he can't have her, she'll die.
Finally, the third scene:
"Choose me or the fire"
This leaves Esmeralda with no choice. She had rather
than have anything to do with Frollo.
It alludes to the times of slavery in the US, especially with the word
, making the chracters
, and having the boss
call them apes
Esmeralda is the beautiful gypsy that everyone loves.
Has a noble heart
Cares for Quasimodo
Speaks out against injustice.
You can see her noble intentions when she prays for her people, the outcasts, in the cathedral.
And her kindness when she helps Quasimodo in different scenes.
While she is a true heroine, there are a few scenes where she is sexualized.
Hey look, a hidden mickey!
She looks like a pole dancer
Sadly, this dance is more exotic than the 1956 Live Action movie version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
This isn't necessary, especially since it is a kid's film.
What does this say about women? This ties back to sexism, as it goves out the impression that women have to dance vulgarly to catch men's attention. Are we supposed to follow this example? This scene is just a little too racy for children.
She is dancing in front of all these men, three of which are in love with her (Quasimodo, Phoebus, and Frollo)
As good as a heroine as she is, this scene unfortunately downgrades her noble status.
Now because of this scene, we can continue by looking at Frollo's character.
self-seen righteous judge
In the beginning of the film, he hunts down gypsies, two of which were Quasi's parents.
According to the lyrics of the "The Bells of Notre Dame" Frollo "longs to purge the world of vice and sin"
Going back to Esmeralda's sexual image, Frollo fantasizes Esmeralda dancing in this scene.
The fire could represent his lust and "burning" desire for her. It could also represent the flames of Hell to which he's headed for having such thoughts. And the heat of the chaos if it was known that he, a righteous judge, wanted to have sexual relations with "gypsy vermin."
She is seen dancing in an erotic way.
Connects with the dance from the previous scene
Inappropriate for children
Similar relationship with Goeth and Helen in
a film about the Holocaust.
German Nazi in love with a Jew, but he is disgusted by her at the same time.
Goeth doesn't kill Helen, but he physically abuses her. Disney is darker because Frollo almost killed her.
Comaparison with a G rated versus R rated film.
After evaluating the different sides of racism, sexism, and sexual content in Disney animated movies, viewers will determine at the end whether or not these films are suitable for kids.
Lynchings, torture, white supremacy
African American Caricatures
Other Sexual Messages in Disney Animated Films
In conclusion, Disney animated films contain racist stereotypes, sexual subliminal messages, and sexist views on females portrayed by Disney Princesses.
It does not mean however, that children cannot watch these films.
After all, these movie teach children good values, everything from Honesty, to the important of family, and the power of forgiveness
Now I leave you with the most epic Disney ending, EVER.
Obviously, these movies influence
How much do they influence?
Going on about the subject of Racist Stereotypes, let's continue with
Peter Pan is about a boy who never grew up. The three children of the Darling family receive a visit from him, who takes them to Never Land, where they have adventures and face the evil Captain Hook.
This film sounds innocent enough, but looking closely, there are racist stereotypes against Native Americans by these character's
manner of speaking
, and their
Take a look at some of the characters, the "Indians," some of the inhabitants of Neverland.
Their attire, which includes tomahawks and headdresses, inaccurately represents Native Americans.
In addition to the
, Disney also misrepresents their
manner of speaking
It can give children the idea that this is what Native Americans wear on a daily basis.
While real Native Americans do wear these kinds of clothing, they are normally reserved for special occasions and religious ceremonies.
The way that Disney drew the Indians with
skin, war paint, use of feathers, etc, gives out a racist stereotype.
... when in reality, Native Americans dress just like us.
Innocent children might come into a situation where they meet a Native American and ask, "Why aren't you wearing feathers?"
Disney should be more sensitive to all races and ethnicities, so no one is discriminated.
"You now Little Flying Eagle."
"Make Peter Pan heap big chief."
Disney makes the Neverland Indians all speak this way. None seem to speak English grammatically correct, which makes a stereotypical assumption about Native Americans
The manner in which the Indian characters speak, specifically the Chief, makes it seem that Native Americans only say “how” and “ugh” and speak English slowly and brokenly. This false concept creates an insulting stereotype to real Native Americans.
Broken jargon is a false representation.
Lastly, the actions depicted by the Injuns, like stomping the ground and yelling the war cry, show them to be
, which is wrong. This misrepresentation gives the Native Americans an offensive perception from other cultures.
During the scene we just watched, the Indians are seen
smoking, stomping the ground, dancing in a powwow, beating on drums, yelling war crys, living in teepees etc.
Of course, not all Native Americans have the same customs as tribes, so this stereotypically throws them all together.
It makes the Indians seem
uncivilized, barbaric, savage, below the protagonists' status.
Again, this makes an inaccurate image of Native Americans, causing a false, insensitive representation, completely inappropriate for a Disney movie.
Luckily, recent Disney Films break these racist stereotypes and bring to light a more positive side to ethnic sensitivity.
BIG HERO 6
widely diverse cast
each character has a voice actor that fits close to their own ethnicity
lack of stereotypes
Disney has improved in its representation of minorities.
What is Sexism?
It is defined as:
prejudice, stereotyping, or discrimination, typically against women, on the basis of sex.
Many Disney animated films have sexism, but we are going to focus on
The Little Mermaid
show sexism against women.
"In a far away, long ago kingdom, Cinderella is living happily with her mother and father until her mother dies. Cinderella's father remarries a cold, cruel woman who has two daughters, Drizella and Anastasia. When the father dies, Cinderella's wicked stepmother turns her into a servant in her own house. Meanwhile, across town in the castle, the King determines that his son the Prince should find a suitable bride and provide him with a required number of grandchildren. So the King invites every eligible maiden in the kingdom to a fancy dress ball, where his son will be able to choose his bride. Cinderella has no suitable party dress for a ball, but her friends the mice, led by Jacques and Gus, and the birds lend a hand in making her one, a dress the evil stepsisters immediately tear apart on the evening of the ball. At this point, enter the Fairy Godmother, the pumpkin carriage, the royal ball, the stroke of midnight, the glass slipper, and the rest, as they say, is fairy tale history. "
The sexist views in this Disney film are the themes of
false concept of beauty
While it is not wrong to have a romantic story, the concept of a girl needing a prince charming to live happily ever after is wrong.
If it was not for her prince, she would have never been rescued and would have stayed at the mercy of her stepmother, forever waiting for her life to start. Cinderella’s reliance on Prince Charming for her happily ever after portrays the concept of male dependence.
Furthermore, the servitude for her stepmother and stepsisters makes a call on female submission. Even though it was her house, she was following the orders of the step family who made her their scullery maid, showing a lack of will and independence.
Cinderella never stood up for herself, just followed the orders her step mother and step sisters of all through life.
Her willingness to do what she is told, and not do what she wants to do, makes her submission one-sided in the favor of everyone but herself.
Under those circumstances, her only defense was her beauty; Cinderella had fair skin, blond hair, blue eyes, slim figure.
False Standard of Beauty
It can teach little girls at an early age to have unrealistic standards of beauty, where they think that they have to look like Cinderella to reach their fairytale ending, and anything under that false concept of beauty is less than perfect.
teaches male dependence, female submission, and false concept of beauty
These sexist themes show up in other Disney Films, including
Snow White, Sleeping Beauty,
Beauty and the Beast
Turning the page over to
The Little Mermaid
, we will now focus on other sexist themes.
The Little Mermaid
is about a young teenage mermaid who dreams of going ashore to the human world.
The Little Mermaid, Disney's 28th animated classic, incorporates sexist views on females through
, use of
of the protagonist, Ariel.
Ariel's father oppresses her by forbidding her to be in contact with anything human. King Triton's oppression of Ariel causes her personality, talents, and interests to be undermined and unappreciated.
This subsequently leads Ariel to a state of being unable to express herself and therefore rebels against her own father. Instead of supporting his daughter, Triton scoffs and reprimands Ariel about her interests of the human world.
He oppresses her so much that she has to submit to hiding the things that she likes in a private, secluded cave. Triton ultimately destroys the precious collection of human items upon discovering the grotto.
The Sea King fails to understand her and value her curious and intelligent personality. He does not see Ariel as brave, strong, and inquisitive but alternatively sees her as stubborn and rebellious.
Even Sebastian, the royal court composer and friend of Triton, yells at Ariel for collecting human objects. It shows that the men in this film do not value Ariel's likes, and oppress her to keep her just the way they want.
If Ariel had not rebelled, she might have never found her happily ever after. Her happy ending however, could have been much more easy achieve if her father had not oppressed her in the first place.
Continuing on, the
that Ursula emphasizes gives out the unsuitable message that women must be silenced to please men. When Ariel was complaining about giving up her voice to become human, Ursula exclaims that she still has her looks, pretty face, and the importance of body language as weapons to catch Prince Eric's attention. She then continues her musical number
Disney's Dumbo contains racist stereotypes in one of the song's
, and two different types of characters,
Poor Unfortunate Ariel
The men up there don't like a lot of blabber
They think a girl who gossips is a bore!
Yes on land it's much preferred for ladies
not to say a word
And after all dear, what is idle prattle for?
Come on, they're not all that impressed with conversation
True gentlemen avoid it when they can
But they dote and swoon and fawn
On a lady who's withdrawn
It's she who holds her tongue who gets a man
This Disney film praises looks on a women, not what they think or have to say. Even though Ariel is a bright, young woman, Ursula convinces her that males would rather have a girl that does not speak their mind. This gives men the power thereafter to treat females as objects that they can control and manipulate for themselves.
A lack of voice would have a female under their dominion and at their mercy, all to keep a love interest.
Disney logic: "Want a man? Shut up and look pretty, then."
It gives out an unfitting message to children, especially to little girls.
Moving forward, the
of Ariel to sacrifice her home, family, and beautiful voice to be with Prince Eric improperly gives the theme of having to give up everything to please their love interest.
The downside of Ursula's proposal was to give up her voice only, but Ariel's rebellion lead her to leave her family and home to go to the human world. Ariel is shown to care more about her prince, whom she
does not even meet until after she loses her voice
This shows sexism because
the prince does not change
The Little Mermaid
has sexist stereotypes that cause Ariel to be
relinquish all she had known
be forced to only use her body language
As a response to sexism, Disney has created these movies to show women in a more positive way.
gives girls a positive independent role model to strive for as they follow the story of Fa Mulan and the fight for her country.
Mulan shows independence all throughout the film, from the beginning when she leaves her home to join the war to save her father, to her hard endeavor to be strong as the other soldiers, to the ending where she singlehandedly saves China from the Huns.
Merida, the Scottish princess, stands up for herself at many scenes, most notably when she defies her mother’s wishes to be in an arranged marriage that she does not want.
It takes out the false stereotype that women have to do what they are told, and gives a feminist perspective on a Disney Princess to be able to do anything a guy could do (if not better than guys)
Lastly, Queen Elsa of Arendelle from Disney’s
’s triumph over tough obstacles without the help of a man shows that women do not need a male figure to succeed and be happy
A key quote in one of her songs states “
Yes I’m alone, but I’m alone and free
.” Elsa was perfectly able of facing her fears and reach a happy ending, breaking the traditional Disney movie mold of a prince coming to the rescue like in
Cinderella, Snow White and Sleeping Beauty.