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Top 10 Insanely Racist Moments In Disney Movies That You Totally Forgot About

VO: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: George Pacheco

Script written by George Pacheco

Looking back, these Disney scenes were pretty racist. From Fantasia to The Aristocats to Peter Pan, even wholesome Mouse House movies aren't completely free of racism, casual or otherwise. WatchMojo counts down the top racist moments in disney movies that you totally forgot about.

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Transcript
Script written by George Pacheco

Top 10 Insanely Racist Moments In Disney Movies That You Totally Forgot About


Wait... how did we not notice these the first time around? Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we're counting down our picks for the Top 10 Insanely Racist Moments In Disney Movies That You Totally Forgot About.

For this list, we'll be ranking the most embarrassing, anachronistic, or cringe-worthy moments of racism that Disney would likely want their fans to forget or ignore. We're not passing judgment on the people behind the scenes at Disney here, as many of these moments were a product of their time, but it should also be discussed how many of them haven't exactly aged well.

#10: Sunflower


"Fantasia" (1940)
"Fantasia" was certainly an early example of a Disney classic, an amazing combination of classical music and animation that still holds up today. What perhaps doesn't hold up so well is a character included on the film's initial theatrical run. Her name was "Sunflower," and she was a black female centaur (or centaurette) who is seen waiting on her white brethren during a segment titled "The Pastoral Symphony." Sunflower is drawn with exaggerated black features, and is a clear example of a visual stereotype that didn't need to be there in the first place. Perhaps this was the reasoning behind Disney's decision to remove the character from prints starting in the mid sixties.

#9: Japanese Soldier Caricatures


"Commando Duck" (1944)
It may seem strange today to think of cartoons as wartime propaganda, but this was actually a common practice during World War II. "Commando Duck" was one such short by Disney, a cartoon that sees Donald Duck parachuting into Japanese territory for a secret mission. The short tends to focus its plot primarily on Donald's battle tactics, but there are plenty of racist moments, specifically with how the Japanese enemy is drawn. Donald's foes are deliberately presented with slanted eyes, buckteeth, and overblown accents. This was certainly due to anti-Japanese sentiment of the time, although it hasn't aged well when viewing the short today.

#8: Conveyor Belt Mammy Doll


"Santa's Workshop" (1932)
"Santa's Workshop" was a holiday-themed Disney short which, on the surface, is a harmless tale of St. Nick and his elves getting ready for Christmas. However, early versions featured a troubling scene between Santa and a pair of dolls, as the toymaker is overseeing quality control on the assembly line. A white doll comes down a conveyor belt, says "mama," and gets approved by Santa. Then, a black doll tumbles down the belt, says, "mammy," and stamps her own butt, as Santa watches on and laughs. Given that the word "mammy" was slang for a black nursemaid in the time of slavery, and the doll's exaggerated features, it's no wonder Disney removed this scene from all modern prints.

#7: King Louie


"The Jungle Book" (1967)
King Louie is a beloved character from Disney's adaptation of Rudyard Kipling's "The Jungle Book." Louie is a Disney original, having not appeared in Kipling's original stories, but he didn't arrive without his fair share of controversy. King Louie and his ape subjects are the only characters that speak in jive slang, popular with black jazz musicians of the day. Richard M. Sherman was one of the songwriters on the film, and has been quoted as initially wanting jazz legend Louis Armstrong to voice The King, but balked at the prospect of potentially offending the N.A.A.C.P. with a black man voicing an ape. So, is King Louie racist, or is it all in the eye of the beholder? You decide.

#6: "Arabian Nights"


"Aladdin" (1992)
The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee wasn't too thrilled to the soundtrack for Disney's 1992 hit, "Aladdin." They took specific umbrage with a line in the film's opening song, "Arabian Nights," where The Peddler sings, "where they cut off your ear if they don't like your face." The Committee saw this as disparaging towards the Arab people, and complained to Disney for a lyrical change. The company would comply, and replace the line for home video, and on new versions of the soundtrack. The committee was also reportedly upset about another controversial line from the song, "it's barbaric, but hey, it's home," but Disney decided to leave this one in, for better or worse.

#5: Native American Stereotypes


"Peter Pan" (1953)
Intent can be a funny thing, especially when it's perceived much differently years later. Disney's "Peter Pan" is an example of this notion, as evidenced by a shockingly racist musical number with very innocent intentions. The Native American sequence in the film raises flags with the song " What Made the Red Man Red?" where embarrassing Indian stereotypes are the order of the day. Although the scene is light and bouncy in tone, the effect years later is rather cringe-worthy in its execution, a blemish on what's otherwise a classic slice of Disney nostalgia.

#4: "We Are Siamese (If You Please)"


"Lady and the Tramp" (1955)
The intentions behind “Peter Pan”’s racism may be up for debate, but it's a lot more difficult to defend the outrageous cultural insensitivity behind the Siamese cats in Disney's "Lady and the Tramp." Post-World War II tensions are the only probable reasons behind the obvious Japanese stereotypes of Si and Am, two villainous cats who sing this song. The twins are drawn with the same slanted eyes and buck teeth we saw earlier with "Commando Duck," and their entrance is even marked by a gong, something which hampered Asian stereotypes in film right through the ‘80s and ‘90s.

#3: Shun Gon & the Alleycats


"The Aristocats" (1970)
We continue on with the Asian stereotypes here, proof that negative depictions of such characters wasn't only limited to the immediate aftermath of World War II. Nope, Asians were still being drawn with the same old slanted eyes and outrageous accents in 1970, as evidenced by Shun Gon and the gang in “The Aristocats." Shun Gon rolls with Thomas O'Malley's alley cat friends, and performs his part of the song "Ev'rybody Wants To Be A Cat" with chopsticks and a buck toothed lisp. He isn't the only feline stereotype here, however, as there's also Peppo, an amorous Italian and the trumpet playing Scat Cat, who's modeled after black jazz musicians of the fifties and sixties.

#2: The Crows


"Dumbo" (1941)
The term "Jim Crow" was used to describe laws or regulations designed to enforce racial segregation in the United States. The lead crow in Disney's "Dumbo" is also named Jim, and has received his share of criticism in the decades since the film's release in 1941. Although Jim and the other crows are generally friendly towards Dumbo, the fact that they speak in stereotypical black slang could easily be interpreted as lazy or racist in their depiction of African-American culture. The gang does get to sing the film's most memorable song, "When I See an Elephant Fly," but this doesn't change the fact that modern audiences might see the Crows in a very different light.

Before we name our number one pick, here are a few dishonorable mentions.
- Blackfish
"The Little Mermaid" (1989)

- Mickey the Racist?
"Mickey's Man Friday" (1935)

- Big Bad Wolf: Door-to-Door Stereotype
"Three Little Pigs" (1933)

#1: Uncle Remus


"Song of the South" (1946)
Uncle Remus wasn't a Disney creation, but his depiction in this 1946 film lives on as one of the company's most infamous moments. Remus was a fictional character responsible for narrating classic African-American folktales. When he hit the silver screen, however, Remus and "Song of the South" almost immediately struck a sour note with audiences. For starters, the film never explicitly presents itself as taking place in a post-Civil War South, leading many to believe that Disney was marginalizing the impact of slavery. There were also a plethora of black stereotypes to be found, which eventually resulted in the film failing to receive an uncut home video release in the United States to this day.
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