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Early Racism in Disney Movies Essay

Disney’s early work has always had a hint of racism in them, I recently watched Disney’s Fantasia released in 1942 was edited and remade because of a very racist scene. I watched a scene where there are many colorful centaurs, male and female; they are frolicking through like a forest. When the lady centaurs notice the males there are little baby cupids that come down and are getting them all dolled up for the male centaurs. Every male is matched up with their matching color centaurs the scene ends with every centaur and their mate flirting and having a ball. The part that was cut out was one little black centaur a girl with barrettes in her hair. She was wiping the hooves of the other centaurs and brushing their hair while the little baby cupids, she had no mate she was just a little servant.(Cite here)

We all know the story of Pocahontas; a lot of people only know the Disney version. The movie does have some truth to it but is definitely racist. John Smith a colonist coming to find the new world, a very stunning, kind young man. (Cite #4) traveling with his men and of course Governor Radcliff, with his ugly little pug and very opinionated, a man who is not afraid to share his morals to the world. He was probably the most racist character referring to Native American Americans as savages and uncivilized, and the only reason he is coming to the new world is because he wants gold and to become wealthy. (cite #4) now this part of history is dead on, the settlers did not want to make friends and start a new life in a new place, they wanted gold and land, and they didn’t care for native Americans to much. (Cite here) There is even a song called “Savages” a very very racist song about natives.

Like it wasn’t enough to call them savages they go on to say things like “They’re not like you and me. Which means they must be evil We must sound the drums of war!” because natives did not speak or dress like the settlers; but that’s not all they call them “Redskin Devils” and say “they’re barely even human” with Radcliff saying things like “What can you expect. From filthy little heathens? Here’s what you get when races are diverse (That’s right). Their skin’s a hellish red. They’re only good when dead. They’re vermin, as I said.” (Cite #4) this song is a song I sang as kid never knowing what I was singing, like it was so wrong for a culture to be different, is this what Disney is teaching our children? That anything that is different cannot be trusted or even given a chance.

Disney movies have always had racism in their movies but the one movie that had the most obvious racism would have to be Disney’s Song of the South.

The Song of the South, one of Disney’s most controversial movies ever made, racism, stereotyping, and ignorance galore. The Song of the South was aired at the Fox Theater in Atlanta, Georgia in 1946, over 64 years ago. (Cite #1)Walt Disney’s animation empire wasn’t doing so good finically and decided he wanted to a movie based on a childhood book he read as a kid. (Cite #2) a story about an old Negro, who tells stories to a young white boy the stories of uncle Remus (Cite #2).The animation was based on stories told by an old African American man, Uncle Remus about a Mr. Rabbit and Mr. Fox, the same plot, as the book with very similar characters, and the same message. The message that a lot of people got was that slavery was being glorified. The angriest was the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) they were the most offended. They had many concerns with the entire film; they didn’t want people thinking that this how slavery was. (Cite #3) In this movie Uncle Remus, played by James Baskett (cite #1) was an old Negro who lives in Georgia on a plantation.

He is not like normal slaves, he comes and goes as he pleases, and he loves his life on the plantation. He sings songs like Let the Rain Pour Down with lyrics like “Let the rain pour down, let the cold wind blow Gonna stay right here in the home I know (Trouble fly away fly away). When you’re achin’ with the mis’ry, and you’re old and gray, (headin’, headin’) Then you’d better be thankful that He let you stay;” which means that even though they made us come here and do this hard work we still should be thankful for what they do actually let us have, like a place to stay. (Cite #1) to add even more fuel to the fire Disney thought it would be a good idea to premier this movie in Atlanta, a very segregated city at the time, the stars of the movie James Brackett, uncle Remus and Hattie McDaniel his wife Aunty Tempy would not even be allowed to sit in the same seats as the white dignitaries.

Their own Governor made statements like “I was raised among niggers and I understand them. I want to see them treated fairly and I want them to have justice in the courts. But I want to deal with the nigger this way: he must come to my back door, take off his hat and say, ‘Yes, sir’” (Bernstein 233). (Cite #2) even still Disney claims they were not in a racist state of mind. (Cite #2) this movie will go down in history as probably the most blantaly racist movie Disney has ever made.

Disney does not have anything to say about theses animations, they have become one of those things people just don’t talk about anymore. Even though a lot of these racist movies are still popular today, and are being remade and rereleased. Disney is still very successful business even with these very rough patches in the beginning and majority of children and parents in the world really do enjoy Disney, but does that mean we should just disregard their mistakes and stereotypical movies, should we just pretend that these movies have offended and will continue to offending races without any concern for people they offend?

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