Walt Disney is one of the biggest entertainment companies to exist with an annual revenue of $59.43 billion (Statista). Yet, some would find it a bit shocking that racism and stereotypes would exist in their films. Because in most homes Disney’s movies are a beloved collection. Though, a lot has changed since the early 1920s when Disney was first founded (Farland, David). But, the question still remains today, do racism and ethnicity exist or play a role in Walt Disney’s animation?
Many have argued and believed that most of Disney’s cartoon animation and films have portrayed ethnicity and racial bias along with stereotypical gender roles (Underlying Racism in Disney).
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Compared to Disney’s early animated films, that openly showed racism like Dumbo and Fantasia, Disney has made some progress in improving diversity and depicting ethnic heroes and heroines like Aladdin (1992), Pocahontas (1995), Mulan (1998) and etc (Nunez, Veronica). However, these films contain racist connotations and a distorted portrayal of other cultures (POC, Nerdy).
Though she is not heroic and before the film was released, Disney’s first African-American princess Tiana “The Princess and the Frog” was already undergoing scrutiny for its stereotypical portrayal of African Americans (Barnes, Brooks). Like Disney’s original classic princesses like Snow White and Cinderella, Tiana was hand-drawn, wore a tiara, had an upsweep hairdo, was a songbird, strong-willed and found her prince charming though all odds. Yet, some critics question: Was the film based in New Orleans in the 1920s to degrade African American stereotypes or uplift them? While others were offended by the film’s storyline being based in New Orleans, due to the devastating tragedies of the to the community.
Another issue critics had with the film was Prince Naveen and how he was voiced by a Brazilian actor “Bruno Campos”(Barnes, Brooks). Though in Disney’s offense he is not white. Others believed Disney studio doesn’t think a black man is worthy of the title prince. The characters hair and features described as non-black did not make it better for their defense. At the end of the day, some critics wanted a black prince. Along with Ray the firefly voiced by “Jim Cumming” some people believe his voice was too much like an uneducated southern African American (Barnes, Brooks).
A rumor surfaced about an early script of the film and the Disney’s princess early name and her role in the film.
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