Mic - November 12, 2019
"It’s no secret that Walt Disney was a bigot. Meryl Streep made sure we all knew it back in 2014 during the press tour for Saving Mr. Banks. In the midst of that kerfuffle, Walt Disney’s grandniece, Abigail Disney, chimed in on Facebook: "If you are going to have mixed feelings about a family member (and we all do) take it from me, you really need to be as honest as possible about those feelings,” she wrote. Was Disney an “anti-Semite? Check. Misogynist? OF COURSE!! Racist? C'mon he made a film (Jungle Book) about how you should stay “with your own kind” at the height of the fight over segregation! As if the 'King of the Jungle' number wasn't proof enough!!” Disney has been criticized especially for styling the orangutans in The Jungle Book as racist caricatures of Black Americans."
After an endless marketing blitz, Disney+ is here, and one of the most notable things about the streaming service is that subscribers have access to the entire “Disney Vault” — a catalogue containing nearly every movie made since the dawn of the Mouse*.*
That’s more than 80 years worth of movies, TV shows, and cartoons. Buried amidst beloved classics like The Little Mermaid and Cinderella, however, are some unpleasant surprises. Especially in Disney movies from the first half of the 20th century — there’s a whole lot of racism.
You might not remember the problematic bits from animated classics like Peter Pan, Lady and the Tramp, Dumbo, and The Jungle Book. But they’re there, and they’re embarrassing to revisit. The crows who sing “When I See an Elephant Fly” in Dumbo from 1941 are mimicking Black minstrelsy, and the lead singer of their trio is actually named Jim Crow! ...
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