The Beauty and the Truth of Disney Movies
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Politics and Activism

The Beauty and the Truth of Disney Movies

Disney might be magical, but its powers cannot stop the racist and stereotypical images it instills at times.

The Beauty and the Truth of Disney Movies
Slash Films

Growing up in the '90s, Disney movies were one of my most beloved recollections from my childhood. We were often taught to be “colorblind,” and embrace each other regardless of skin color, race, gender, etc.

However, this concept seems to have been abandoned at times during the productions of the studio's films. Now don’t get me wrong, I am not here to bash Disney's films or Walt Disney himself, for I myself am known to rock out when listening to “Hakuna Matata” or “I’ll Make a Man Out of You” more times than it is cool to mention.

That being said, Disney is not really the perfect, ideal children’s scene we make them out to be, and their worst aspects are not really hidden at all.

For instance, let's tackle some of the racism found in a few of our all-time favorite childhood movies.

1. "Aladdin"

As one of the very few ethnic Disney movies, "Aladdin" tells the story of a poor man named Aladdin who falls in love with Princess Jasmine. He is unable to marry her because of his low social status, so with the support of a magic genie, he pretends to be a wealthy king and woos over Jasmine as well as her parents. However, the two lovebirds are combatted by the evil figure, Jafar.

In the movie, Jafar is pictured as having unnatural facial features (when compared to the “good guys”) and a darker skin tone. This similarity is also seen in the movie, Mulan, where the Huns are depicted with darker skin tones and are represented as evil, animal-like creatures.

Furthermore, "Aladdin's" first song, “Arabian Nights,” highlights the idea of Arab savagery and barbarism. I am not going to write out the lyrics in this article, but on your free time, give them a look. You will be surprised to the extent of which it paints a picture of the "violent" Middle East as viewed from the eyes of the Christian West.

2. "Lady and the Tramp"

In this movie, the stereotype of the sneaky, devious East Asian is on full display with the twin Siamese cat characters. They are characterized with buck teeth, thick accents, and narrow eyes. Furthermore, their song, “We are Siamese, If You Please,” features the cats being chaotic in the house and attempt to kill a bird and fish.

3. "The Jungle Book"

The first Disney "Jungle Book" was the animated musical version of Rudyard Kipling’s book of the same name. In reality, this movie’s racial significance stems primarily from its author, who also happens to be the writer of the 1899 white imperialist poem, “The White Man’s Burden.” In the movie, he praises the white colonizers who leave back their ideal white lives to bring back civilization to the “half devil and half child” captives, who in this movie, are portrayed as Phillipino.

4. "Pocahontas"

This movie portrays stereotypes on a woman’s role in society and illustrates the racism against Native Americans, as seen with the song lyrics in "Savages," for instance. The movie is not entirely historically accurate and brings out a negative image of Native Americans. Furthermore, just like several other Disney Movies, it contains sexism, Pocahontas yearns for love in her life in order to be happy and wishes for something “more” than what her village offers to her. This exemplifies the idea of white supremacy, and the need for a "man" in order to be content in life.

As you can see with these specific instances, Disney carries a lot more racism and stereotypes than we may have ever realized. Think about how many Disney movies ended with a princess finding her true love and living "happily ever after." The only mere example that deviates from this sexist notion is "Frozen." This is one of the few movies that illustrates that love can be between two sisters, as opposed to a man and woman. Thus, we cannot blame women for not being independent if they grew up surrounded by the notion that true love must be found in order to be happy.

Lastly, I would like to bring attention to the lack of minority representation in Disney movies. It is 2016 and I can only think of one black Disney princess. This alone is such a deplorable image in society.

We need to teach the younger generations that a princess is not about being a light skinned, oppressed woman who yearns for love to be happy. It is about time for Disney to start showing us that beauty comes in all races, shapes, and sizes and that true love is not defined by a man and woman.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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