10 Racist Disney Films And Cartoons that did not age well

Posted by Akila, 20 Mar

Photo credit: Stefano Chiacchiarini '74 / Shutterstock.com

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Disney's racist rapport

1. Alladin

With all that innocent imagery on the surface - two

lovers on a magic carpet, a comical genie who grants wishes, and the warm-hearted tiger - the film sparked a racial controversy that is still echoing today. Arabs felt the movie was inaccurate and unflattering for its damaging depictions of Arab culture.

Firstly, the cast features no Arab or South Asian voice actor.

Secondly, Alladin's main characters exhibit westernized features like a lighter skin complexion and American accents. But, on the other hand, the villain characters like Jafar, the guards, and shopkeepers had hooked noses, heavy Middle Eastern accents, and beards.

2. Peter Pan

In the film Peter Pan, native people are referred to as

redskins, a slur traditionally used to undermine American Indians. In addition, the Indian chief and the Neverland Indian tribe sing a song titled "What Makes the Red Man Red?" decried as a mockery and appropriation of the Native American peoples' culture and imagery. Peter and the Darlings wearing headdresses and making stereotypical whooping

noises also adds to the appropriation.

3. Dumbo

"We don't know when we get our pay.

And when we do, we throw our pay away."

One of the most racist moments in the entire history of Disney is Dumbo's Song of the Roustabouts. We can all recall how awful it was when it compared blacks to animals and generalized the race as irresponsible.

In addition to that, the head crow in this film has been named Jim Crow, which references the Jim Crow racist laws that enforced segregation which deprived and denied the blacks of their rights and freedom in the Southern United States in 1965. This crow also walks like the Jim Crow caricature seen on the posters at the time. In addition, Crow is voiced by a white person.

4. Song of the South

This Disney film was SO RACIST that it never made a DVD or video debut in the USA! Instead, it has been locked away in Disney's vault for decades and is considered the company's most offensive film. Set on a 19th-century southern plantation, it follows a black plantation worker, a formerly enslaved person who lives happily on his former white master's plantation. But unfortunately, it perpetuates an old racist myth that enslaved people were happy in the cotton fields. The movie's rosy portrayal of slavery and racial relations then (a distortion of actual facts) immediately drew criticism at the time of the film's release.

5. The Jungle Book

In the Jungle Book, every other character speaks in British English, except King Louie - the ape - and his subjects who speak in jive slang. The apes have been criticized for being a racist caricature of blacks and playing a part in the historical dehumanization that compares black people to apes.

6. The Aristocrats

The Aristocrats features a Siamese cat Shun Go who plays the piano with chopsticks. He has stereotypical East Asian features and is voiced by a white person who speaks in a stereotypical accent (poorly accented) and sings about fortune cookies.

7. Lady and the Tramp

Similarly, Lady and The Tramp featured two Siamese cats, Si and Am. They're racist caricatures with slanted eyes, stereotypical East Asian accents, and bucked teeth. The film premiers a decade after the end of World War 2, where Asians were met with misplaced fear. In the film, Si and Am terrorize Lady.

8. Mulan

Even Mulan is a culprit of colorism. The Mongolian army troops have darker skin than the Chinese characters, if you have never noticed. They are also depicted as animal-like, which enforces stereotypical messages that dark people are evil, whereas lighter-skinned people are trustworthy heroes who straighten the dark ones.

9. Lion King

In 1994's The Lion King, people argued that the hyena characters were racist. Much as they are voiced by actors of color, they speak in slang but serve a British English-speaking leader. One hyena is called "Shenzi," which means stupid in the Swahili language. They are portrayed as dim-wits who hail from an unsafe neighborhood that Scar isn't allowed to visit.

Critics have argued that the hyenas represent people of color who are forcefully kept out of the hierarchical society.

10. Disney’s lead characters of color turning into animals

When characters of color are in lead roles, one noticeable thing is their transformation to animals. For example, in The Princess and the Frog, Brother Bear's, and The Emperor's New Groove, the lead characters, Tiana, Kenai, and Kuzco, spend almost the entire time transformed as animals. Critics have argued that by disproportionately transforming characters of color into animals, Disney doesn't allow them to grow and excel in their human forms like the white characters.


The good news is that Disney has acknowledged these historical mistakes and has begun a clean-up moving forward by putting in place things like advisories, remaking the classics, and a commitment to including and promoting visibility for people of color. So don't forget to tune in next week where we bring you things Disney has done to fix their racist history.

3 responses to "10 Racist Disney Films And Cartoons that did not age well"

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  1.   Mariajaya says:
    Posted: 13 Apr 22

    Hmmm interesting.

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  2.   trustin333 says:
    Posted: 12 Apr 22

    The Dumbo song may be racist, but overall people get WAY too riled up about this kind of stuff. I grew up in poor rural America as a white male and have faced prejudice in many ways my whole life. Some of us face more than others, but that is life to some degree. First off, we can interpret almost anything as racist if we are sniffing for it. I have many black friends and have never known anyone overty racist except a few blacks. As for Disney films, give me a break. I thought Song of the South was basically anti slavery, and one of my favorites as a kid. People need to really get a life. Just because they deal with things in a real way don't mean it's racist. We all really need to grow up here!! If you are that sensitive then deal with your hurts instead of causing division. I laugh t myself all the time...

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  3. Posted: 07 Apr 22

    African Americans are the most racist people on the face of the earth; and have to complain about everything. I disagree that there is racism in any of these movies. I am a person of colour from the Caribbean, I have experienced racism from those people; I lived in Germany for five years and felt at home with no racism or discrimination there.

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