All of us have seen a Disney movie. Whether it was Aladdin, The Lion King, Mulan, Pocahantas, or The Little Mermaid, we have all seen Disney’s attempts to make movies that include all ethnic groups. But is each ethnic group being represented fairly in these films? Or are Disney’s representations of these groups simply a misrepresentation that we continue to feed to our children?
Are our own representations of ourselves–ie Tyler Perry films–correct? Is it ok for Tyler Perry to depict us in a demeaning light (constant cheating, abuse, Madea being a “mammy” type character) because he is Black? I often hear it’s ok for him because he is telling “the truth”, it’s some type of reality. He is often looked at as some type of hero. That’s not my truth. My dad didn’t beat up my mom and my mom wasn’t a prostitute or alcoholic and my grandmother didn’t tote a gun in her purse. I’m sure white families have abusive men, disobedient children and deadbeat fathers as well…but don’t see them highlighting it in their films quite often.
I’d like to take the time to examine what we are feeding to our children in the media. Movies, pictures, TV shows & scripts–it’s no secret that TV has taken somewhat of a teaching role to our kids.
How do you feel about racism in the media? Is it alive and well? Or are we being too sensitive about things? Is it ok for white people to write films about various ethnic groups and present them to our children? Is it ok for black writers to constantly show us in a negative light because they are black? Where do we draw the line…or is there no line to draw?
Here are just a few of the Disney movies noted to be racially offensive. Source: http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/1329215/disneys_most_racist_films_and_characters_pg2.html?cat=25
The Jungle Book
In The Jungle Book, based on the Rudyard Kipling story of the same name, Mowgli stumbles upon a group of monkeys (or possibly orangutans) who leap down from the trees and begin singing about their desire to be human. This is viewed by many as a humorous highlight of the film: monkeys are always amusing, right?
It is painfully obvious, and beyond coincidence, that the apes are the only characters in the film voiced by African Americans. All the refined characters speak in British or white-American accents, but the monkeys swing down from the trees, speaking in jive and jibberish. This makes them seem sub-human, even compared to the other animals in the jungle. When children hear this, they will most certainly learn to recall the image of crazed monkeys the next time they hear someone speaking in Ebonics.
A long-time favorite film about a mute baby elephant who learns to fly, Dumbo contains several unfortunate racist scenes. Perhaps the most memorable is the scene in which Dumbo encounters three black crows (one of whom is named “Jim Crow”) who portray every existing stereotype of black American culture. They smoke cigars, speak in jive, and spend all their time doing nothing but observing the more civilized world.
The Princess & The Frog
Most people applauded Disney for finally creating a film centered around a Black princess. But this is how the execs felt about it:
“We’ve been making movies since Steamboat Willie in 1929. After 80 years, we felt it was finally OK to do something that focused on black people,” said Disney executive Kristin McMurphy. “Plus, with Obama in the White House, it was time to replace old black stand-ins like the crows from Dumbo and the jive-talking monkeys from The Jungle Book.”
Felt is was finally ok huh, since Obama is in office? Guess we earned our right to a Disney film…
I plan to make a documentary surrounding this topic soon…