Are Warnings on Old Disney Movies and Cartoons Necessary?
Times are definitely changing. What was once seemingly innocent may be viewed by some as a slap in the face. Amid the growth of "PC culture" several media giants, including Disney have gone back through their older content and posted warnings before the feature, stating that some of the content may be racially insensitive.
In 2005 these warnings began popping up on collector's edition DVDs for Looney Tunes Golden Collection. The DVDs feature all the classic characters, but as the DVD starts, you're greeted with celebrity, Whoopi Goldberg. Whoopi, a Looney Tunes fan, goes on to warn viewers that some of the content in the cartoons has been deemed "Politically incorrect" by today's standards, but, will be shown uncut for historical reasons. Goldberg then goes on to explain, "removing these inexcusable images and jokes from this collection would be the same as saying [these prejudices] never existed".
Disney has followed similar protocols with warnings showing up before certain movies stating, "This program is presented as originally created. It may contain outdated cultural depictions." Some of the classic Disney animated feature films that use the warnings may not come as much of a shock when you read the reasoning. The following is a list of some of the movies that carry the warning, and the reasons behind them:
- Lady and the Tramp (1955): Two Siamese cats, Si and Am, are depicted with anti-Asian stereotypes. There is also a scene at a dog pound where heavily-accented dogs all portray the stereotypes of the countries their breeds are from - such as Pedro the Mexican Chihuahua, and Boris the Russian Borzoi
- The Aristocats (1970): A Siamese cat called Shun Gon, voiced by a white actor, is drawn as a racist caricature of an Asian person. He plays the piano with chopsticks
- Dumbo (1941): A group of crows that help Dumbo learn how to fly have exaggerated stereotypical black voices. The lead crow is called Jim Crow - a reference to a set of racist segregationist laws in the southern US at the time - and he is voiced by a white actor, Cliff Edwards
- Jungle Book (1968): The character of King Louie, an ape with poor linguistic skills, sings in a Dixieland jazz style and is shown as lazy. The character has been criticised for being a racist caricature of African-Americans
- Peter Pan (1953): The film refers to Native people as "redskins", a racist slur. Peter and the Lost Boys also dance in headdresses, which Disney now says is a "form of mockery and appropriation of Native peoples' culture and imagery". A song originally called "What makes the red man red" was also decried as racist - it was later renamed as "What makes the brave man brave"
- Song of the South (1946): One of Disney's most controversial movies, which has never been released on video or DVD in the US. Its depiction of plantation worker Uncle Remus perpetuates an old racist myth that slaves were happy in the cotton fields
To be clear, none of the movies or classic cartoons mentioned above have been edited in their DVD release in any way. But some seem to think that the warnings could be a sign that censoring and editing the films is on the horizon. Many people don't want the things that brought them joy in their childhood to be muddied and the innocence of the nostalgia to be taken away. However, it is hard to argue that some of the depictions are not only dated, but downright offensive. Let us know what you think on our Facebook comments or the Shreveport Security System's Message Board on the App.