Our subject was the subtle stereotypes in Disney movies, but our speaker told us that this goes beyond just Disney. The videotapes and DVDs that our cabinets are chocked full of. I really have to say how naïve I have been about what my children have watched. After this hour long session, I will definitely be more sensitive about what they watch and how we discuss the racial stereotypes in the movies they are watching.
The list could go on and on, but a few examples that were presented were - the orangutans in Jungle Book who just want to be real people or the crows in Dumbo who talk with slurs or the hyenas in the Lion King who all negatively portray African Americans, the Siamese cats in Lady and the Tramp who are conniving, sneaky, with lisps and buck teeth, Tito in Oliver and Company who portrays a fast talking and stupid Chihuahua, the "savages"/Native Americans in Pocahontas or Peter Pan, and the Arabs in Aladdin (whose opening song actually was rewritten after it was first release) but who still portray Arabs as barbaric.
This was all eye-opening to me and made me much more sensitive to the “safe” movies my kids watch. During the clip that we watched, they interviewed children who had watched these movies and their comments were surprising. What cultural messages are my kids getting from these movies?
Have you been concerned about the subtle racial stereotypes in the movies your kids watch? Have you noticed these in children’s movies and how have you talked to your kids about them? As a culture, what can we do to support and demand positive racial stereotypes?