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Debunking "evil Disney" accusations

Discussion in 'WDW Parks General Discussion' started by Big Phil, Aug 12, 2012.

  1. Big Phil

    Big Phil Well-Known Member

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    As a lifelong Disney fan I am bothered by the fact that Disney - or even Walt himself - has turned into what much of the public thinks is an evil company. Depending on who you believe, there is a list as long as your arm that contains certain things Disney has been accused of doing. Whether that is brainwashing or whatever. Here are some popular perceptions that are just false and I will go to bat for Disney here.

    Song of the South was a racist movie - Made in 1946 under the watch of Walt himself. Arguably the most popular theme park attraction is built off of this movie but it isn't allowed on the shelves anymore. It's a shame. The movie is a masterpiece. I have heard that the arguments are that it doesn't focus on the Civil War and makes that timeframe look like a fantasy for blacks. However, it's a Disney movie, they don't deal with issues that deep. The entire premise of Disney movies are fantasy.

    Subliminal messages in Disney movies - There are a couple of instances where this did happen. The Rescuers with the naked woman in the window. But to my knowledge that is the most conclusive evidence out there. The Lion King's "SEX" in the clouds? Very arguable that it was actually "SFX" as a nod to the audio. Or it was just dust in the clouds and it wouldn't be hard to vaguely make up three letters. The Little Mermaid I believed for years had an erection on the minister. I was fooled. That is clearly his knee. And the original picture on the front of the box that resembles a *****? Again, pretty vague. I think somewhere along the line there has been a perverted animator or two that has thrown in a hidden sexual message. I do not think as a collective whole this is from the Disney company.

    Walt Disney was anti-sematic/racist - In the film "Man Behind the Myth" one of Walt's former black employees (his name escapes me) goes to bat for him saying he wasn't a racist. If that isn't good enough for you then look at the evidence I point to: "Its a Small World." That attraction alone if anything makes Walt look like a hippie. It's about peace and love and joy and togetherness from all countries of the world. Walt wasn't a hippie, but at the same time when this was a hit at the 1964 World's Fair he turned it into a Disneyland attraction in 1966. I've always felt a genuinely racist and hateful man would not have been able to stomach that as an attraction. For me, Small World is proof enough.

    Disney has a "hidden" agenda - Look, I am a pretty conservative man. But to the people who live their life trying to analyze cartoon characters that are gay boggles me as much as the ones who think everything in cartoons is racist. We know Walt himself wouldn't have done this, but more or less the animators since then. Look, I can understand one thing, in the arts business you are likely to have a more homosexuals per person on average. I am sure this happened in the 1940s in Walt's day as well. You can't tell me there weren't some animators a little more dapper than the average man. There were. That being said, Disney does not have an agenda in my mind. They do their best to stay out of any political side. Even the "gay days" are not Disney sanctioned like some believe. Disney allows all guests to come through. If certain groups like Brazilian tour groups, or church groups happen to gather thousands of people for a time frame at WDW then is their own organization and Disney just allows them in.
    I have never thought Disney is ever trying to infiltrate our minds with anything other than pure joy. I guess if you look closely you can see that Donald doesn't wear pants or that none of the male characters are married. But seriously, they are characters, nothing more. For a company as large as they are Disney does a good job staying away from polarizing topics. They are neither Democrat or Republican (alright we all know Walt was Republican, but still). If anything the most controversial thing Disney seems to sanction is the Super Bowl MVP riding the float. So basically, in recent memory Disne has offended Patriots fans, and Tom Brady.

    The crows in Dumbo were racist - I have never understood this accusation. I see no difference between the crows and Donkey from Shrek. The crows were helpful to Dumbo. They weren't evil, they were the only characters other than Timothy to be nice to Dumbo. I saw a documentary - the Disneyland documentary - on Youtube and they go into details on why they chose the crows to sing and dance and act the way they did. For a movie done in 1941 even to today's standards I see no harm in why they were chosen to act that way. All we have is an over paranoid society making a mountain out of a mole hill.
     
  2. DisneyDebNJ

    DisneyDebNJ Premium Member

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    I agree, however, unfortunately, even Uncle Walt himself, couldnt please everyone. All any true Disney lover can do, is plan vacations, watch Disney movies, and do what we feel is right. This great big spinning marble is sure of many things, one being, some of us are Disney lovers, some arent. Regarding Disney movies from the 40s and 50s, times have changed, and all we can do is move on... follow our dream and wish all well.
     
  3. raven24

    raven24 Well-Known Member

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    I love Disney but I'll admit, as an African American, I was pretty put off by the original centaur scene in Fantasia. I know it was a sign of the times but I still didn't like it, at all.

    The whole "crows from Dumbo are racist" is bull. Now there are some stereotypical content in some Disney movies. I'll admit that.
     
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  4. FettFan

    FettFan Well-Known Member

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    Disney as an anti-Semite/Nazi.

    NO. The only dealings he had with the Reich was in trying to get a distribution deal for Snow White. After Hitler invaded Poland and kickstarted the Europe war, all bets were off.

    What I hate the most about this allegation is that it is taken seriously by Disney critics....even though if they would do their own research into it, they would see that "Disney is a Nazi" was made up by white supremacists who didn't understand "Der Fuhrer's Face" other than watching Donald Duck seig-heiling.
     
  5. Big Phil

    Big Phil Well-Known Member Original Poster

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    Fair enough. I think a stereotype is a far cry from a racist/prejudice way of thinking though. In 40 years the world will be dumbfounded at how we could possibly watch Shrek and not notice the racial overtones. What would they be? That's the fun part, we aren't in the year 2050 to find out what is now all of the sudden unacceptable. So I doubt Walt was wondering when he was making Dumbo what might be deemed "offensive" to some people in 70 years.
     
  6. The Empress Lilly

    The Empress Lilly Well-Known Member

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    Oh, Walt, my dear old Republican you. With views that predate the sixties revolution too!

    Nothing to get upset about.

    Many of these criticisms are slightly conspiracy theories to begin with. I guess it is what happens to you when your name has 100% recognition, and your company is a dominant force of mainstream American culture.
     
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  7. bethymouse

    bethymouse Well-Known Member

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    Major corporations. Major debates on just about everything! There will be "haters" everywhere, but true Disney fans know what Disney is all about- entertainment! In the entertainment business, there is always controversy, and unfortunately Walt Disney is no exception to the media looking for something to "complain" about. I don'yt listen to any of it!;)
     
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  8. The Duck

    The Duck Well-Known Member

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    I once had a co-worker who would smugly say, Walt Disney was a crook. When he bought all that land in Florida to build Disney World, he tricked all those farmers into thinking that he wasn't the one buying the land".
    Silly me. I thought that he was using common sense and good business tactics to avoid getting screwed.
     
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  9. luv

    luv Well-Known Member

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    I have no desire to defend Walt or the company. If people want to hate it, that's okay with me.

    I saw Fantasia, Dumbo and Song of the South as a kid, but I don't remember anything about them. I tried to sit through Dumbo once, but it was too boring. I like the parks a lot, but the movies...not so much.
     
  10. FettFan

    FettFan Well-Known Member

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    WHAT farmers? That area was bloody WETLANDS. The reason the Seven Seas Lagoon even EXISTS in the first place was because they needed to to dig it out to have dirt to build up the foundation for the Magic Kingdom, or else everything would sink.
    [​IMG]
    "They called me daft to build a castle in a swamp, but I built it all the same!"
     
  11. smw

    smw Active Member

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    as a jew, i can tell you that when i first heard about the anti-semitic stuff i certainly researched it as much as i could. never came across anything that seemed to be evidence-based. from what i read, he had numerous jews on staff and many people on record who vehemently deny the allegations.

    could he have been? sure. obviously it would be kept quiet if he were anti-semitic, as it would only hurt business and bring controversy. but without evidence it's fairly pointless to fret over it. and really, if i found out tomorrow he had been, the amount of joy he's given to millions of people for decades would outweigh it, at least for me.
     
  12. flynnibus

    flynnibus Well-Known Member

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    Lookup 'cariacture' and look at what they were stereotyping. It's humor that was acceptable at the time, and even up through the 80s, but in our politically correct world is looked down upon now. Hence even why Leonard Maltin has to put up those stupid disclaimers in so many of the Treasures DVD releases.
     
  13. YoungNY

    YoungNY Active Member

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    Honestly with all the blatant and evil racism in the world today, I don't really care about some stereotyping and presumed racism from half a century ago. Let's worry about our problems today.
     
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  14. FettFan

    FettFan Well-Known Member

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    Yep.

    The Crows from The Wiz.
     
  15. The Duck

    The Duck Well-Known Member

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    I know. This guy was just a pretentious know-it-all who didn't know as much as he thought.
     
  16. raven24

    raven24 Well-Known Member

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    It wasn't just Dumbo. Ever noticed the way the monkeys talk and speak in The Jungle Book? They're clearly black. Black monkeys. Hhhmm. Some of the newer Disney movies are stereotypical too, though. The opening scene of Aladdin is stereotypical. I really don't want to get started on the original concepts of The Princess and the Frog, and the fact that the first, and I'm sure only, African American Disney princess spent most of her time in the film as a frog. I can let these things go but they do bother a lot of people.
     
  17. Magenta Panther

    Magenta Panther Well-Known Member

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    The Sunflower the Centaur scene in Fantasia is pretty bad - but in the context of the time, it was considered amusing and not at all racist. Audiences and studios back then were pretty naive. I doubt any harm was meant by it. Still, I'm glad the character has been excised from Fantasia - it was a pretty extreme caricature and deserved to be edited out. "Song of the South" could also do with a little editing, but beyond that, it's a marvelous little film, and people who want to hide it away forever do a grave disservice to the work of the black actors in the film, especially James Baskett, who was amazing as Uncle Remus. His portrayal of that character is right up there with Julie Andrews' portrayal of Mary Poppins, in my book.

    As for Walt, credible sources illustrate that he was anything but bigoted in any way. There is a true story that a Disney animator was arrested for homosexual activities (remember the timeline, folks), but Walt hired him back, saying "Let's give him another chance. Everyone makes mistakes." Some sneer at that statement, but for the time, it was incredibly progressive. Walt built Disneyland and WDW in part to bring people together; his decision to include "Small World" reflects that. As for that anti-Semitic junk (wish to heck Seth McFarlane would shut the HELL up!) it's totally untrue, and Jewish employees of Walt's, most notably the Sherman brothers, have stepped forward to say that the charge is completely false! But jerks like McFarlane are teaching a whole generation of kids that Walt was a greedy racist anti-Semite who only cared about money. Nothing could be farther from the truth! I think some people look at the company's size and reach and think of it as a predatory global empire that is up to no good, and further, some people really get off on looking for the cloud behind the silver lining. I pity such people. They must have a pretty unhappy outlook on life. :(
     
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  18. Magenta Panther

    Magenta Panther Well-Known Member

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    The characterizations of the monkeys and King Louie (who was voiced by Louis Prima, a white man BTW), were based on a various styles of music, such as "scat", swing and jazz. I think it's a bit unreasonable to think they were meant to be black caricatures. Was Baloo a black caricature, since he did a duet with them?

    I think sometimes people confuse the terms "stereotypes" with "archetypes". To say that Aladdin used stereotypes is a bit off, in my view; why, because it showed a character riding a camel? I don't get it.

    Anyway, the crows in Dumbo were certainly meant to represent blacks, but not in a racist or demeaning way. Would it have been more "sensitive" to have the helpful birds be peacocks or blue jays? I see their characterizations as enormously positive, and inclusive. Whether they truly offend anyone is questionable in my view. It's a bit like Speedy Gonzales; some people think he's a racist caricature of Mexicans, but in Mexico, he's a folk hero! :)
     
  19. FettFan

    FettFan Well-Known Member

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    Ah....no. They are all Italian-Americans.
    King Louie and the monkeys were voiced by Louis Prima and his band.
     
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  20. raven24

    raven24 Well-Known Member

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    I'm aware of that but out of all the animals to choose from, monkeys were the best choice, unfortunately. Blacks were referred to as apes and monkeys for a very, very long time. That's the connection I'm making.

    I wasn't referring to a camel ride. Have you listened to "Arabian Night" from Aladdin? Listen to it, then come back to me.

    I don't think the crows in Dumbo are racist, though I find it odd the main crow's name is Jim Crow. The crows are portrayed the same way the monkeys are in The Jungle Book. The jazz, musical image. It's not wrong in my opinion, but it's still stereotypical. Listen to the way the crows talk, the way they're dressed. Like I said, I don't have a problem with it.
     

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