As a child born in the 80s, I grew up watching classic Disney movies. As children our innocence stops us from picking up on some of the more controversial aspects of these films. Over the last half-century, Disney has definitely pushed the envelope on what is acceptable a number of times. Several times they went so far out of bounds (not considered so at the time) that if they tried it today they would be quickly at the mercy of public opinion.
Here are 10 instances where Disney definitely crossed a line, at least by today's standards.
1. Pinocchio smoking a cigar.
Rules about promoting tobacco to children are so tight these days that there is no way any editor would allow this scene to make it through the editing process. The movie was made in the 1940s when there were no real health concerns towards smoking in general.
2. Asian stereotypes in The Aristocats
Yup, you couldn't get more stereotypical if you tried really hard. Shun Gon the cat is given slanted eyes, buck teeth, and a bad accent. For some reason they even decided to include chopsticks in a scene involving a piano.
3. “Song of the Roustabouts” – Dumbo
I'll call this one like it is, down right racist. The scene where African-American circus workers are singing while they work through the night is enough to make you cringe as a human being. “We work all day, we work all night / We never learned to read or write / We’re happy-hearted roustabouts”. “When other folks have gone to bed / We slave until we’re almost dead”...
4. Pocahontas - Historically inaccurate
Pocahontas came out during the re-emergence of Disney animated films, but it did not do nearly as well as some of its counterparts did (ie. Hercules etc). Some believe this to be because of how historically inaccurate the film actually is. The Washington Post said that this movie attempted to revive the stereotype of the "noble savage." When a film is inspired by actual events, you have to be careful with the liberties you try and take.
5. The Three Caballeros - Donald Duck the sexual predator.
During the time when Disney was making mashed up movies containing live action and animation, things got a little crazy. In The Three Caballeros, Donald Duck is clearly seen grabbing a woman's boob without permission, and without any sort of repercussion. This is something that we shouldn't be teaching children at any time.
But that's not the only scene that definitely wouldn't fly today...