Disney has been one of the pioneers of animated feature films, and we've all grown up with their classic movies. But, as one blogger, Amy Cook, brought to my attention, "Disney movies actually entail some pretty blatant racist and sexist overtones." Are there messages in these cartoons that some would find offensive? Amy's blog features 10 Disney characters that stirred up controversy.
I've seen most of the movies she mentions in her blog, but as a child you don't really think about racist messages. Looking back at some of the video clips she provided, it's easy to see that some people may find these characters offensive. The character Sunflower was cut from Fantasia. She was an African-American half-donkey centaur, which appeared to be a servant to the beautiful Caucasian-looking centaurs. The character was later edited out. You can watch the uncut version of the sequence here. I definitely didn't have that version of the movie.
I do remember the crows from Dumbo being blatant African-American caricatures who "be done seen about everything." (Really!?...yikes on the grammar check) Amy Cook does a great job of analysis these characters, and they have both positive and negative interpretations. Although they are jive-talking, seemingly lazy, and poor, they are also "the only characters in the entire movie to ever offer the eponymous elephant any ounce of compassion or understanding."
What I didn't remember however was the "Song of the Roustabouts." Again, being a child, you just watch a movie and don't read between the lines entirely. I certainly didn't remember the songs lyrics, which are song by faceless African-American workers. Just take a look at the first verse:
Hike! Ugh! Hike! Ugh! Hike! Ugh! Hike!
We work all day, we work all night
We never learned to read or write
Were happy-hearted roustabouts
Read Amy Cook's full blog to find out!