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Jungle Cruise Re-Imagining

Brer Oswald

Well-Known Member
Others have already enumerated what is problematic about the two versions of Trader Sam, and I don't really have anything to add to their observations.


We don't know what questions the people making these decisions are asking themselves. I've seen nothing to suggest that they're asking the wrong questions.


I said nothing about the age of the depictions! And while I hope whatever we create today will stand the test of time, I wouldn't be at all surprised if attitudes shift again in the future, requiring further adaptations. Such shifts are simply an unavoidable part of human history.
If you’re not going to elaborate on what aspects are offensive (or what you believe to be the specific issue) I’m not sure why you commented on my OP. I’m not trying to be mean here, but it just feels like mindless arguing rather than an intellectual assessment for us to learn.

You’re not convincing me that Sam is an issue. I already share that opinion with you. But even if I didn’t think he was, the “he’s bad end of story” tactic probably wouldn’t convince me, as I’m sure it’s not convincing many others who don’t hold the opinion that he’s offensive.
 

LittleBuford

Well-Known Member
If you’re not going to elaborate on what aspects are offensive (or what you believe to be the specific issue) I’m not sure why you commented on my OP. I’m not trying to be mean here, but it just feels like mindless arguing rather than an intellectual assessment for us to learn.
It's not my intention to argue. I responded to your post because I don't share your view that there is significant disagreement over what makes Sam offensive. Rather, there is disagreement between those who see the issues and those who don't.

You’re not convincing me that Sam is an issue. I already share that opinion with you. But even if I didn’t think he was, the “he’s bad end of story” tactic probably wouldn’t convince me, as I’m sure it’s not convincing many others who don’t hold the opinion that he’s offensive.
I'm not looking to convince anyone of anything; I'm simply sharing my own opinions, just like everyone else here.
 

owlsandcoffee

Well-Known Member
It’s understandable, but not exactly fair or rational. “So and so’s favourite ride can go, but if they touch Suicide Plantation House, I will not go to Disney anymore.”

That’s obvious hyperbole. However, I’m not quite sure why people in the fan base feel like they can go around claiming to be morally superior to people for liking certain attractions that are being changed, but will die for their own “problematic favorites”.

Disney’s gonna do what Disney’s gonna do. I just expected more from the community. But perhaps I was foolish too? Oh well.

I heard recently on a podcast that the HM is problematic because the ghosts are white.
 

Brer Oswald

Well-Known Member
I heard recently on a podcast that the HM is problematic because the ghosts are white.
I’m not so sure about that.
1617762678061.jpeg

They look pretty blue to me.
 

Disone

Well-Known Member
I don't think it's a debacle, nor do I think the problem is difficult to describe: both versions of the character are crude stereotypes of "native" tribesmen. Sure, there are differences between them, as well as a number of additional factors that are interesting to consider, but the basic issue seems straightforward enough to me.
That's just the thing.... I'm not sure it's such a crude stereotype of a native tribesmen. There are natives that look like that in this day. Example here.


These people are every bit of a part of the jungle as the animals, rocks, shore lines and water are.

But like those animals, the back side of water and other things we should not take for granted, attraction is not presenting an outdated caricature of what Cape Town South Africa is like today nor unlike Disney's Animal Kingdom is it trying in any real sense to present a culturally accurate presentation of jungle life. The jungle cruise is not National Geographic or Mutual of Omaha. Nor is it trying to be. It's just a fictional, comedic, misadventure down jungle Rivers.

Now if Trader Sam was at the end of Kilimanjaro Safari I could see where the context there would be completely out of place. No joke on that.

Context matters. I am looking forward to the changes. I think the new scenes look fun and I look forward to seeing them. I just don't know if they were actually necessary. Someone earlier had said if they had just said they were updating the attraction to refresh it we wouldn't be having this debate.

I'm sure with minimal searching we can find someone that is uncomfortable with or offended by the natives and Trader Sam in the jungle cruise. But honestly nothing is bulletproof.

Everything is going to be offensive to somebody, especially today.

It's a small world is one long parade of stereotypes presented one after the other and on top of each other.

Haunted Mansion is disrespectful to those who have passed away. Is there not worry that people who have suffered a family loss will find this attraction insensitive to that loss?

And what are we saying with those accents that The Country Bears have? Are those accents truly appropriate for a country music show?

Those are just three examples and for the record, none of them are my personal opinion. But just guesses as to how someone might find offense where I do not.

I disagree with Disney that there was going to be a pier pressure;) against the natives and Trader Sam at JC. But apparently they felt there might be so they're going to monkey around with the attraction.

I disagree that this was necessary but now that I got that off my chest, it's a chance to see something new on the jungle cruise and that gives me butterflys. :)

I've actually enjoyed this thread very much. I've enjoyed reading both sides of the spectrum. No lion about that. :)
 

LittleBuford

Well-Known Member
That's just the thing.... I'm not sure it's such a crude stereotype of a native tribesmen. There are natives that look like that in this day. Example here.


These people are every bit of a part of the jungle as the animals, rocks, shore lines and water are.

But like those animals, the back side of water and other things we should not take for granted, attraction is not presenting an outdated caricature of what Cape Town South Africa is like today nor unlike Disney's Animal Kingdom is it trying in any real sense to present a culturally accurate presentation of jungle life. The jungle cruise is not National Geographic or Mutual of Omaha. Nor is it trying to be. It's just a fictional, comedic, misadventure down jungle Rivers.

Now if Trader Sam was at the end of Kilimanjaro Safari I could see where the context there would be completely out of place. No joke on that.

Context matters. I am looking forward to the changes. I think the new scenes look fun and I look forward to seeing them. I just don't know if they were actually necessary. Someone earlier had said if they had just said they were updating the attraction to refresh it we wouldn't be having this debate.

I'm sure with minimal searching we can find someone that is uncomfortable with or offended by the natives and Trader Sam in the jungle cruise. But honestly nothing is bulletproof.

Everything is going to be offensive to somebody, especially today.

It's a small world is one long parade of stereotypes presented one after the other and on top of each other.

Haunted Mansion is disrespectful to those who have passed away. Is there not worry that people who have suffered a family loss will find this attraction insensitive to that loss?

And what are we saying with those accents that The Country Bears have? Are those accents truly appropriate for a country music show?

Those are just three examples and for the record, none of them are my personal opinion. But just guesses as to how someone might find offense where I do not.

I disagree with Disney that there was going to be a pier pressure;) against the natives and Trader Sam at JC. But apparently they felt there might be so they're going to monkey around with the attraction.

I disagree that this was necessary but now that I got that off my chest, it's a chance to see something new on the jungle cruise and that gives me butterflys. :)

I've actually enjoyed this thread very much. I've enjoyed reading both sides of the spectrum. No lion about that. :)
To me, the key phrase from your post is "context matters". What makes Trader Sam a crude caricature is that he belongs to a long tradition of casting non-white people as uncivilised and barbaric, a tradition that is itself part of a much longer (and still continuing) history of racism. This is why I don't think it's helpful to draw comparisons to attractions and situations that aren't embedded in similar contexts. To take your Haunted Mansion analogy, have dead people been subjected to centuries of systemic oppression and bigotry? Would someone who has recently suffered a family loss and is easily upset by references to death willingly choose to ride an attraction that is self-evidently devoted to the theme of the afterlife?

The imagery on the Jungle Cruise is different, because there is no reason that the unsuspecting guest should expect to see caricatural depictions of black and brown "savages" in a family park in the year 2021. This goes especially for children of colour.

While I understand that opinions are going to vary, I don't quite get why so many here are absolutely resistant to the idea that some guests, without being "outraged" or "offended", might feel uncomfortable upon seeing such imagery, and that the changes being made might be welcome in the eyes of such guests.

I shared a video in an earlier post that I really think is worth watching in this regard. The link opens to the correct segment, which lasts only a minute or two:
The modifications came up today on the DIS Unplugged. I found the segment enlightening:

 

_caleb

Well-Known Member
The supporters of these changes are those who believe you cannot make fun of another culture. Of course you can.
You absolutely can make fun of other cultures. But if the mocking depictions are the only depictions of those cultures, you just come across as ignorant and mean.

If you want guests from those “other” cultures feeling comfortable in your theme parks, you remove the insensitive depictions and replace them with something with a more universal appeal.
 

EPICOT

Well-Known Member
You absolutely can make fun of other cultures. But if the mocking depictions are the only depictions of those cultures, you just come across as ignorant and mean.

If you want guests from those “other” cultures feeling comfortable in your theme parks, you remove the insensitive depictions and replace them with something with a more universal appeal.
By your standard, Disney needs to cast "headhunter culture" in a positive light alongside the humorous Trader Sam in order to rightly display him. Or if you say they need to present, presumably, a South American culture alongside him, that would be problematic as it would be equating the headhunting practice with the selected South American culture.

Instead, Trader Sam worked because he made fun of an isolated barbaric practice. There are no claims to identifying it with any broader culture. If one thinks Trader Sam wholly represents a certain culture, then might I suggest that person is ignorant and mean.

How many headhunters ride the Jungle Cruise and would be offended by him?
 

_caleb

Well-Known Member
By your standard, Disney needs to cast "headhunter culture" in a positive light alongside the humorous Trader Sam in order to rightly display him. Or if you say they need to present, presumably, a South American culture alongside him, that would be problematic as it would be equating the headhunting practice with the selected South American culture.

Instead, Trader Sam worked because he made fun of an isolated barbaric practice. There are no claims to identifying it with any broader culture. If one thinks Trader Sam wholly represents a certain culture, then might I suggest that person is ignorant and mean.

How many headhunters ride the Jungle Cruise and would be offended by him?
It’s not only “headhunters” who are being made fun of. Trader Sam is said to be South American and depicted in what appears to be tribal clothing. Many guests visiting Disney parks originate or are descended from the places were Trader Sam is supposedly from and are related to the cultures he stereotypically represents. Headhunting is barbaric, but it’s also ceremonial and carries cultural significance and meaning.

The gag is (and has always been), “Look how funny those people who are different from us are!” This is meanspirited humor that only works when everyone is in on the joke and disconnected from the cultural realities being made fun of (see also José the Macaw and the Indians in Peter Pan). Disneyland has a long and complicated relationship to minority and foreign cultures, but they’re trying to do better.

I’ve mentioned in earlier in this thread, but have you ever invited people over to your home for dinner and thought—“hmm, maybe we should make a few small changes to make our guests more comfortable?“ That’s what Disney is doing with these changes.

Don’t worry, you’re still welcome and there’s a lot for you to enjoy!
 

champdisney

Well-Known Member
I’m going to get a lot of heat for this but, hey an opinion is an opinion. Here goes...

If it was up to me, I’d axe Jungle Cruise completely. I understand that it’s a beloved attraction for many who attend the Magic Kingdom but after 20+ years of Animal Kingdom, I personally don’t think there’s a need for it. Why settle for animatronic animals when you can see the real deal a few miles across property?

I’m more than sure there will be many who will disagree on me with this but from my perception on this, it’s a pretty logical thing to do. I wouldn’t necessarily rule out eliminating the attraction all together, rather, introduce a newer and better version for Animal Kingdom. I’m thinking Disney being able to utilize the lake where the riverboats run on. Mind you, I’m not even sure if that’s possible to do something of this magnitude on that body of water but it’ll be cool to see Jungle Cruise riverboats cruising around as you walk by.

As for the changes? Can’t say I care. Jungle Cruise just hasn’t really entertained me quite as much as it used to. Even the restaurant they built to complement the attraction didn’t impress me, absolutely lackluster food.

Overall, I wish Disney would be more bold. It’s not Jungle Cruise that needs changes, it’s Adventureland that needs it. If Jungle Cruise were to move over to DAK, they can essentially start from scratch and give us something new while keeping its tone and charm in tact. I’m in no way referring to theming it after the upcoming film, rather keeping it about the animals. If there has to be humans involved, then you bet they’ll get it right for DAK. It’s known for that.

However, that’s not happening. Some may come forward and say “Disney will never relocate an attraction!” To that I say, how would you know? It’s never been done. Have em’ take a crack at it and at least let them try.
 

Bocabear

Well-Known Member
If anyone thinks this is an accurate depiction of South American indigenous culture they really need to go back to school... Is there a part of the script that says specifically "Hey Here is South American Headhunter Trader Sam"? I don't believe he is supposed to represent any specific tribe except the broad brushstroke of a native headhunter... He is clearly wearing clothing from trade deals with other "English" visitors.... I Don't believe in 1956 when they created the character anyone (meaning general public) even know which tribes in the jungles of the world had headhunters.... There were headhunters on Gilligan's Island which was supposed to be in the South Pacific... This particular sculpt could be from almost any tribe worldwide... it is not specific to South America... It is just a gag on a boat ride....
I am waiting for people to start advocating for Witches Rights and that Snow White and Sleeping Beauty should be changed because we haven't been told the story from the Witch's point of view....ugh
 

SorcererMC

Well-Known Member
Still no. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00414-016-1448-7

"In the nineteenth century, the Jivaroan peoples became famous among Europeans and Euro-Americans travelers for their elaborate process of taking and shrinking an enemy’s head to make a tsantsa. Although headhunting has occurred in many regions of the world, the practice of shrinking human heads has only been documented in the northwestern region of the Amazon rainforest, performed by the Jivaroan peoples. The reason for that had a spiritual origin rather than to keep them as a trophy. According to Jivaroan beliefs, a vengeful soul or muisak of a victim had to be trapped inside the tsantsa to protect the killer against the revenge. This practice also prevented the muisak from entering the afterlife potentially harmful for the family of the murderer or could be useful to enhance yields of crops [1, 2].
 

Bocabear

Well-Known Member
Oh yeah, now I remember all that stuff from my high school class on the Jivaroan people.... EVERYONE knows where headhunters are from and which tribes... geez. You are right, this clearly denigrates the Jivaroan people and should be removed immediately!
 

SorcererMC

Well-Known Member
Oh yeah, now I remember all that stuff from my high school class on the Jivaroan people.... EVERYONE knows where headhunters are from and which tribes... geez. You are right, this clearly denigrates the Jivaroan people and should be removed immediately!
I would think that indigenismo is pretty standard fare for high school classes, since I had it in the middle-of-nowhere Midwest. In the 90s.
 

Bocabear

Well-Known Member
I would think that indigenismo is pretty standard fare for high school classes, since I had it in the middle-of-nowhere Midwest. In the 90s.
Nope. But we all have google now so we can look up the specifics... And now that I have looked them up I am outraged I tell you! lol
So anyway.... Trader Sam has been removed and will not return. I am so glad this fantasy attraction that spans the rivers of the world will be more historically accurate for the google generation....and most of all will not marginalize the Jivaroan people...That it can celebrate Indigenismo... Because that was always the point as clearly illustrated by Marc Davis' historically and socially accurate concept sketch
 

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