Nobody can deny that Disney is a defining feature of childhood. With production spanning over nine decades, Disney films are numerous, diverse and heartwarming. Not only are they entertaining, but they also contain many important moral messages for children to pick up and bring with them into their adult lives.
Unfortunately, many Disney films have not aged well. Some of their older films have been criticised for their politically incorrect or dated messages; it’s clear that the context of the social, political and cultural ideas prevalent at the time these films were produced hugely influenced the themes. However, many of their more recent productions have also come under fire. Gender issues and the portrayal of women in Disney films have been discussed for many years, but these issues have increased rather than decreased in recent years, showing that Disney is doing little to combat many decades of stereotyping.
Controversy in Disney is particularly interesting because it reflects the historical progression of society – what would have been acceptable 60 years ago now makes viewers roll their eyes or squirm in their seats. More importantly, however, it raises concerns for children and what effect these outdated messages could have on them. Because Disney is aimed at children, it’s essential that some of the more damaging messages are identified and addressed. Take a look at our list of the 10 Biggest Disney Controversies, ranked here by popularity of the films from less to more popular, for an overview of the most shocking Disney moments. Did you pick up on any of them before?
10. Dumbo – The Crows
In this beloved Disney classic, Dumbo meets a group of crows. They are portrayed as poor, useless beings who speak in jive and chain-smoke cigars. All of these crows but one are voiced by African-American actors. Disturbingly, the leader of the crows is named Jim, voiced by a white actor. Jim Crow is the boss of the other crows who are completely submissive to him… it doesn’t take long to put two and two together here and come up with an unfortunately racist slur. Probably not the best decision, Disney.
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