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Racism In Animated Films

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Racism in Animated Films

While Disney animated films are the ideal family movies, it is undisclosed to many that such racism is being portrayed. "Rarely do we ask about the origins and intentions of the messages we encounter through mass media; sometimes we forget that [producers] have origins or intentions at all" (Lipsitz 5). The social inequality found in such popular culture can be due to several reasons. According to David Croteau and William Hoynes in Racial Crossroads, media content can be the reflection of producers, audience preference, or society in general (Croteau and Hoynes 352). In their films or other such media, producers often reflect on personal experiences. In other words, they may "draw on their own family lives for story inspiration" (Croteau and Hoynes 352). With the majority of producers being White males, especially when films were first being made and even up to this day, films reflect how they view life. "The creators of popular culture... see themselves merely creating signs and symbols appropriate to their audiences and to themselves" (Lipsitz 13). Disney producers simply reflect their own views on life in some manner or the views of the majority which so happens to be the White race. The white supremacy we find in the media is not reality, nor is the portrayal of various races. For the bulk of Disney's animated films, if minorities are not the villains or those of lower class and perhaps less importance, there are none being represented in the movie at all.

It is classic for the hero to be a white male whereas other characters such as evil villains are of a minority race. In the happy ever after movies where the princess in distress is rescued by the handsome strong prince or male figure, the male is White. This is found in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Robin Hood, The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Pocahontas, and Hercules.

Although Aladdin takes place in an Arab town, the main character and hero is more-so depicting an American boy rather than Arab in his voice and appearance. Nevertheless, he is Arab and represents this in that he is of a lower class as well as in the song he sings:

Oh, I come from a land, from a far-away place

Where the caravan camels roam

Where they cut off your ears if they don't like your face

It's barbaric, but hey, it's home (Maio 4).

This song endears a sense of belief that people of his race are less off than those of other races. And of course "the evil characters, like Jafar, look very Arabic" with darker skin and a more foreign speech (Maio 4). Aladdin is simply one of many animated films with racists attributes.

Motion-pictures, including Disney films, emphasize the separations between people (Lipsitz 19). Films with animal characters, such as The Jungle Book and The Lion King, further illustrate this race separation. The Jungle Book is about a small Indian boy being raised by wild animals. In this film there are monkeys which seemingly represent the "oppressed blacks in the ghetto" (Cox 1). These monkeys too take part in the racial stereotyping in the songs they sing, not only through the jazzy melody which is often associated with African-Americans, but through the lyrics as well. In the lyrics it talks about how the monkeys "could become human and be accepted in society" (Cox 1). This relates to the racial stereotypes of the inhuman African-American working

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