The 9 Most Racist Disney Characters
By:Ben Joseph, CRACKED Staff November 16, 2007 3, 318, 063 views
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These old Disney movies are a little bit like your aging Uncle Frank. Honestly, he means well when he points out that Will Smith is "well-spoken." It's just that he, like the assemblage of clips below, dates from a time when people were unfairly characterized by their ethnic background (the acceptable methods are, of course, religion, geography, sexual preference and income).
#9. The Merchant from Aladdin
The opening musical sequence from the hugely popular 1992 animated film had to be edited due to protest from Arab-American groups for saying about the Middle East what most of us were merely thinking.
The Middle East is a barren wasteland where the justice system runs on a clear and simple limb-removal policy.
Best (Worst?) Moment:
"Where they cut off your ear if they don't like your face" is the offending line, which was changed on the DVD to the much less provocative "Where it's flat and immense and the heat is intense." Whatever. Our question: In a city full of Arabic men and women, where the hell does a midwestern-accented, white piece of cornbread like Aladdin come from? Here he is next to the more, um, ethnic looking villain, Jafar.
#8. Sebastian from The Little Mermaid
In this 1989 film, a Jamaican-sounding crab teaches Ariel that life is better "Under the Sea, " because underwater you don't have to get a job.
Up on the shore they work all day
Out in the sun they slave away
While we devotin'
Full time to floatin'
Under the sea!
Are we reading too much into it? Do you see anything wrong with how they've drawn "the duke of soul" at 1:57?
Still too subtle? How about at 2:01 when the "blackfish" appears?
Best (Worst?) Moment:
As far as Disney movies go, you've got two choices: unforgivably offensive and just slightly racially insensitive. Sebastian definitely falls into the latter category. So while making Sebastian a charming, party-loving stereotype is a baby step forward for Disney, it's still a stumble backwards for civil rights.
#7. The Crows from Dumbo
In this 1941 classic, Dumbo the flying elephant runs into a band of jive-talking black crows who sing, "I'd be done see'n about everything/when I see an elephant fly!"
Come on, blackbirds acting in a manner stereotypically assigned to African-Americans isn't that offensive. At least they didn't just get some white guy to do his best "black voice." Oh, really? They did? And, they called the lead character "Jim Crow?" Um, hey, look over there! It's a convincing, logical end to this argument!
Best (Worst?) Moment:
So many too choose from. The crows are very specifically depicted as poor and uneducated. They're constantly smoking; they wear pimptastic hats; and they're experts on all things "fly, " so it's really a team effort contributing to the general minstrel-show feel to the whole number. You could pretty much pause this video at any second and use it as evidence in your hate-crime lawsuit against Disney.
For its time, though, the portrayal of the crows was almost progressive. The crows band together and help Dumbo learn to fly, so they're counted among the heroes of the film. Remember, this was just a couple of years after somebody introduced a bill to outlaw lynching and congress voted it down. So, you know, you take what you can get.
#6. King Louie from The Jungle Book
Having outgrown the crude portrayal of African-Americans as black crows, in 1967 Disney decides to portray them as monkeys instead.
All animals in the jungle speak in proper British accents. Except, of course, for the jive-talking, gibberish-spouting monkeys. Did we mention they desperately want to become "real people?"
Best (Worst?) Moment:
Fine, so an ape singing, "I wanna be like you" might be a little subtle, in a "we own multiple copies of Catcher in the Rye" conspiracy theory kind of way. Still, considering the author of the The Jungle Book also thought up "the white man's burden", we don't think it's too much of a stretch.
#5. The Siamese Twin Gang from Chip n' Dale Rescue Rangers
Overt racism against African-Americans was obviously intolerable by the time this Chip n' Dale series began in 1989. Overt racism against Asians, luckily, was still on the table.
Even as criminals, Asian-Americans immigrants, represented here by a gang of cats, have become integral parts of American culture. Kidding! They own a laundromat, run an illegal, basement gambling operation and speak in horribly mangled "Engrish." It's like a designer of World War II propaganda posters accidentally quantum leaped into the body of a late '80s cartoon writer.
The video becomes cringe-worthy about six minutes in:
Best (Worst?) Moment:
The Siamese Cats sell their karate expert Juice Lee, a Japanese fighting fish, for a suitcase full of dead fish. If you can't find something offensive in that sentence, congratulations. You're a cyborg.
#4. Sunflower the Centaur from Fantasia
Of all the items on this list, this is the one Disney has tried the hardest to make us forget.
Even in Fantasia's beautiful, magical landscape, African centaurs are hoof-polishing handmaidens for prettier, Aryan centaurs. Also, 1940 was a great year to be a centaur fetishist and/or Don Imus.
Best (Worst?) Moment:
It was insulting enough for Disney to include the smiling servant stereotype to begin with, but, to make matters worse, they started categorically denying Sunflower's existence with the Fantasia re-release in 1960. How does that possibly make things better? "No, you misunderstand. In our perfect, Fantasia world, Africans aren't servants. They don't ###ing exist."
#3. The Indians from Peter Pan
In this charming musical number, the "Red Man" explains his people's history and culture.
Why do Native Americans ask you "how?" According to the song, it's because the Native American always thirsts for knowledge. OK, that's not so bad, we guess. What gives the Native Americans their distinctive coloring? The song says a long time ago, a Native American blushed red when he kissed a girl, and, as science dictates, it's been part of their race's genetic make up since. You see, there had to be some kind of event to change their skin from the normal, human color of "white."
Best (Worst?) Moment:
It's a tie between Tiger Lilly's traditional Native American hussy dance, and the number of times Native American's misogynistic tendencies are played for laughs (hint: It's more than three!)
#2. Uncle Remus from Song of the South
The tales of Br'er Rabbit are relayed by kindly old Uncle Remus, a black man happily working on a plantation in the post-Civil War South. Disney has never released this one on home video, for some reason.
The late 1800s were a great time to be African-American and possibly on acid.
Best (Worst?) Moment:
Less eerie than any imaginary singing birds is what's not in the film. It's as if someone made a children's musical about Jews in post-World War II Germany that had a number titled "Hey! Nothing Bad Has Happened to Us, Ever." Also failing to reach the screen: When the movie had its world premiere in 1946 in Atlanta, James Baskett, the actor who played Remus, was not allowed to attend. Zip-a-dee-doo-dah!
#1. Thursday from Mickey Mouse and the Boy Thursday (Book)
In this forgotten Mickey Mouse book from 1948, Mickey gets a crate full of West African bananas, and finds an African inside instead! Ha!" The savage soon is confused by Mickey's human lifestyle and commits acts of random violence.
"What's the deal with Africans? If they're not trying to eat it or throw a spear at it, they're worshiping it as a some sort of tribal deity, am I right?"
Best (Worst?) Moment:
Where to begin? The book compiles almost every offensive preconception of Africa lurking in the American subconscious.
Some choice quotes:
"Well, well." Mickey laughed ... "So I'm supposed to be your governess and nursemaid, and you can't even talk!"
"Let me see. A genuine African native, " Mickey murmured. "Perhaps I should start showing him off."
Perhaps the most depressing part is that this was somebody's idea of tolerance, back in the ideallic '40s:
"Poor little guy! He just makes mistakes. He doesn't know any better. I'll just have to be patient and teach him the right way to do things, " said Mickey.
You may also enjoy Ben Joseph's 10 Most Ridiculous Overseas Rip-Offs of American Films.
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30th of Jun, 2010 by Don't Apologize 0 Votes
I have a complaint against Pixar and Disney in reference to "Day and Night" short before Toy Story 3.
"You would have to be pretty naïve to not identify the attempt to indoctrinate the viewer with a "more open and accepting view" of sexual experimentation, namely homosexuality as was artistically illustrated by the two male characters sharing a bewildering rainbow-in-the-crotch experience. The concern we should have is WHY we would trust them to indoctrinate our Youth with social, sexual, or political messages of any kind. Remember when stories had "Morals" and not "Immorals"?
Additionally strange is the exaltation of Wayne Dyers quote. That guy is a ### and a fraud, and why it would be chosen for inclusion in a children's animation must make perfect sense to only fools. Unless of course, it was chosen to once again punctuate the blatant cry for acceptance of other peoples' unorthodox sexual orientation. Creatively, this animated short was clever until Teddy Newton added his own dissolute agenda. "
30th of Jul, 2010 by Joe Dog 0 Votes
What up Dog ??
F@#K Disney bro, get yo self a hot dog and cold beer and relaxin the Florida sun.
30th of Jul, 2010 by scoobydoo 0 Votes
Disney has definitely down graded over the years. You want to go there to enjoy yourself and for the excitement, not to be Mickey's ###. Disney is all about their profit, if you want an experience like the commercials show be prepared to spend grands of money. Universal and Sea World were my two favorite parks. The only Disney park I really enjoyed was the Animal Kingdom and it was like hell getting onto the rides.
3rd of Aug, 2010 by Justin1976 0 Votes
We stayed the weekend at the Contemporary resort... After going through my bank statements online, I have found that most of the TIPS for dinners have been increased from what I wrote on the slip!! Is this a common practice??? I plan to get into contact with them in the morning!!! This is ridiculous!
25th of Jul, 2011 by Frank "cujo" 0 Votes
If anyone from disney reads ANY of the complaints posted, I would be very, very surprised. disney no longer wants to earn a good reputation. All they want is the almighty dollar. I believe that Walt Disney would be banging a few heads together were he still alive. To have his dream turn out to be as bad as it has in the past few years. It has turned into "customer no service". No one in that entire corporation gives a damn if you had a good experience or a bad one, as long as the money keeps comming in. I am retired military and have 16 grandchildren. I took two of them to disney last year and have just returned after taking two more in July. This will be the last year that I take any of the rest. I will find a park that cares about the people that are paying the bills. Congratulation disney, you have just lost ANOTHER paying customer. How many more can you afford to lose!!!?
28th of Jul, 2011 by madmomred -1 Votes
They all sound correct I paid $350 dollars for myself, husband, 3 year old and 4 year old. We where able to get on a total of five rides in five hours. They will let any amount of people in that park to make money. If I heard the happiest place on earth one more time I might have turned postal. I truly believe Walt would turn in his grave to see how greedy this place has become, there must be 10-15 retail and food establishments for every ride in the magic Kingdom. I'm glad they got to see it once because they will never again. Horrilbe day at te park.
6th of Aug, 2011 by whigrose 0 Votes
I've never been a big Disney fan and have never understood people who think Disney is the be all, end all of existence on this earth. In 2005, I was getting married in October. We planned a 2 week trip to Scotland, but my husband lost his job 3 months before the wedding. He got a job and started work about a month before the wedding date. They gave him time off for the wedding and 1 week for the honeymoon. We cancelled the plane tickets and took points from Delta. My parents have an Orlando time share. They were able to give us the week down there, so we ended up at Disney. The Epcot visit went by without incident. We went to the Magic Kingdom. At the time, I was semi-vegetarian, meaning I did not eat beef or pork. I had NO CLUE people booked meals a year or two in advance. Are you kidding me?!?! We tried to go to a buffet--a buffet, mind you--and were turned away b/c we didn't have a reservation. We asked where we were supposed to eat--noting that I was vegetarian and couldn't just stop at a stand selling hamburgers and hotdogs--and a Disney employee sent us to this one place that served asian/noodle type dishes. She said they cooked everything fresh, so if I wanted something left out, it would not be a problem. It was a long walk to get there. And when we did, surprise, surprise, everything is pre-cooked. By this time, we were both starving and I was shaking from hunger and low blood sugar and heat as it was. Now, I was also shaking from anger. I went off on them!!! To his credit, the guy at the noodle place was nice. I think he helped me find a place to eat (probably a veggie burger or something--which the woman from before failed to suggest as an option). It wasn't at all what we wanted, but it was food. Better yet, he actively tried to make things up to us. He got us into Cinderella's castle for a 3-5 pm setting. We didn't eat dinner, obviously, but had dessert and they gave us a free commemorative glass as we were wearing pins indicating it was our honeymoon. No, I'm not complimenting them. What they did was the least they should have done. A Disney employee flat out LIED TO MY FACE. Besides, you should not have to plan your meals at least a year in advance. We couldn't have done that. We didn't know we were going to Disney at all until about a month out. What are people in situations like that supposed to do? They want the visitors, they should provide more and better meal options. Period. End of story!
Well, in addition to that story, I'm afraid I had another bad incident happen during my honeymoon. We went to the Animal Kingdom. I don't think I'd ever been there before. Now, I am not fond of crowds. That means Disney already presents problems for me. However, I can handle the crowds as long as I don't feel trapped by them. Unfortunately, we ended up staying at this park a little longer than we should have. The parade started. Like I did at Epcot, I looked for a way to slip past the crowds and leave. But when the parade starts at Animal Kingdom, THERE IS NO WAY OUT, YOU ARE TRAPPED!!! Whoever would've expected them to have designed the park so poorly. I mean, seriously, it isn't like it was the first park they built. They already knew about crowds and what happened come parade time. The design of that park is completely irresponsible. I literally started hyperventilating and having a panic attack. My husband kept moving me around, dragging me by the hand, and trying to find a way out, but we kept running into that stupid parade. We drew the attention of a park employee, but I was so out of it just struggling to breathe and not pass out. She apparently asked if I needed "medical aid, " but I misheard her and said, "no, I don't want any lemonade." I'm not exaggerating. It was just a horrible experience. All in all, it added up to a pretty sucky honeymoon. Wish we had done the fish park instead. We did do Busch Gardens, I think it is, and had a much better experience there even if there wasn't as much to do and see. The following year, we went to Hilton Head the week before Christmas. It was deserted and fabulous. I now kind of think of that as our honeymoon. I'm trying hard to repress the Disneymoon from you know where.
Now, I even have another reason to be frustrated with Disney. They own the subsidiary company of Playdom, which runs online games, but their customer service is terrible. That's how I found this posting--I was looking for a way to complain to Disney about Playdom. I'm sorry, but Disney is so over rated. It may have been a bit better in Walt's day (though I've heard some disturbing rumors about him too). But today, Disney has gotten too big. It is almost self-perpetuating. They don't care about customer service because they don't have to care. Another mindless Mickey follower will come along and dump lots of cash on them. That's just the sad truth. The only reason I was bothering to try to complain of Playdom is because they are a new acquisition--purchased last year and supposedly Disney is planning on pumping $563 million into the endeavor. Lots and lots and lots of people are mad at Playdom. It is deplorably run. I've tried to work things out with Playdom to no avail, so I thought maybe going over their heads to 'get them in trouble with daddy, ' so to speak, might be a better tactic. Still, I have no delusions. Disney is just terrible, and likely to stay that way as far as I can tell. Sorry your grandkids were involved. But I don't see why you need to shield them from the truth. They'd be better off learning what Disney is like and falling in love with something else. Find a smaller park that still cares, or maybe even take them on some kind of charity/working vacation like doing habitat for humanity. There are lots of other options besides the messed up mouse.
3rd of Nov, 2011 by no longer a loyal fan 0 Votes
I have been going to Disney World for 36 years. It has always been our favorite time of the year. Until this past week . I have never had a complaint in 35 years, until this week. I ran into multiple rude cast members, from the bus drivers and ride operators to the check in people. After telling our bus driver where I was headed twice, he rudely asked Where do you want to go? On the ride "Its a Small World", our group allowed 5 feet in between us and the people in front of us; and Doris yelled at us for it. After walking through a very thorough security check into the Magic Kingdom, with my two small girls, Clifford demanded I leave the youngest at the gate while I and my other daughter go through the security check again. I grabbed them both and returned to security. They were as perplexed as me and continually apologized to us. I will NEVER return to Disney World or any location associated with them.
13th of Nov, 2011 by mich and matt rhodeisland 0 Votes
My husband and I went to Disney world in 2011 for our 2nd honeymoon and stayed at the all star movies resort ! BIG MISTAKE !! worst place to stay ! not only did we have to hear a toilet run all night long but that resort has very thin walls. YOU HEAR EVERYTHING . We had stayed at the Port Orleans Riverside resort for our 1st honeymoon, we should of went back to that one, but we figured we save a few bucks and try a value resort ! Dont gip yourself, , go for the moderate resorts, because value resorts are terrible place to stay ! we are going again in 2012, but this time we will absolutely stay in a moderate resort and spend a few hundred more just to enjoy the piece and quiet of a wonderful resort !
9th of Jan, 2012 by Sally Lace 0 Votes
Here are some numbers people. Hope you have better luck than we did. We have traveled to Disney for over 30 years. Our recent visit in December 2011 was terrible. We arrived with our familly, our children and grandkids to have an engagement party. We had ordered an engagement cake to have dellivered to our room.
We arrived December 19, 2011, and left for a dinner celebration at Yahtsmans. After dinner we were returning to celebrate with our engagement cake and head to the Polynesian to sit by the water and watch the 10:00 holiday fireworks.
While we were gone an employee entered our room and hit the door so hard that it knocked the topper of the cake and destroyed our cake.
We returned about 7:30 and immediately called management. They said they would immediately call Leslie Smith who was handling this cake. We had no response and the next morning were informed that Disney was scheduling a lock interrigation on the room to confirm this employee entered the room. They needed a couple of days to do this and speak to the cast member. Three days later, it was confirmed. The executive management team was verly calous and had David Kong contact us. He offered an ice cream social in the Pop Century food court or another cake from the local Publlix grocery store.He stated that it was a busy time and the cake would not be as good though. This was not ok with us. Even after David King (Pop Century Guest Relations Manager) repeated this multiple times, he kept repeating the same thing and said these are your only options. We found this very disrespectful. To us, it's like having a Birthday party without the cake. Only worse. The event was already over. It was ruined. We even tried to contact Leslie Smith (Manager of guest services at 407-560-3229) who was handling this cake from December 19 on with no response.
23rd of Mar, 2012 by janey stephens 0 Votes
My complaint is not about anything bad at Disney. We just got back from there, and we had a wonderful time! Everyone was very happy and helpful. My complaint is with the powers that be at Disney concerning there not being any villians around the park...well there were the ones on stage for the show but that was all. We also wanted to buy a villian hat or shirt or snowglobe but there was none to be found in the park. In all of your movies you have villians that play an important role. I am not the only one that has said this. Please take in consideration what I have said. LOVED the Parks. Janey Stephens, N.C. P.S. You really can't appreciate good without evil...all of your movies show good overcoming evil. Without it there would not be much of a story line or excitement!
23rd of Mar, 2012 by janey stephens 0 Votes
sorry, my computer is doing some crazy mess. I had checked everything but came back and read and OMG. I just wanted to say it is important in a story for good to go against evil...makes for a great story!!!
27th of Mar, 2012 by Buttercupblonde31 0 Votes
Why dont you just go to Universal? They are so much better and know how to treat a guest. I love Universal. Dinsey parks are too childish and directed towards little girls and all the fairy bull ###. What are the boys suppose to do? DW is a let down and far to exspensive. DW...thumbs down. Universal...Thumbs up!
28th of Jun, 2012 by Tracy Robben 0 Votes
I want Flik and Princess Atta to return to Animal Kingdom for a regular character meet 'n greet basis when I go to WDW again in October and December this year. I miss them terribly.
1st of Sep, 2012 by FATMAN WALKING 0 Votes
Walt and Roy Disney are Dead...If Walt came back to life he would be a very pissed off man...He would fire everybody and start over...This place has nothing to do with Disney anymore it is just a name people...When Epcot opened it was a real nice place..But not anymore...Just a run down money making greed park...When you pay $15 dollars to park your car you should turn around and go the other way...
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