Essay on Racism in Disney Movies

5470 Words Mar 17th, 2010 22 Pages
Anastasia Trus
WRTG 3020
Professor Pat Sullivan
30 March 2010 Racism in Disney During the last several decades, the media has become a strong agent in directing and controlling social beliefs and behaviors. Children, by nature, can be particularly susceptible to the influencing powers of the media, opening an avenue where media created especially for children can indoctrinate entire generations. Disney movies, like all other media “are powerful vehicles for certain notions about our culture,” such as racism. (Giroux 32). Racist scenes in Disney movies are often identified as simply being “symbols of the time” when the films were produced. Furthermore, Disney racism is often passed over as simple humor, or as a simple guide to
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Dumbo, the fourth film in the Disney industry, was made in 1941 and produced by Walt Disney himself. It was originally designed as an economical feature to help generate income after the financial failure of Fantasia. The concerns people had against Disney being anti-Semitic and racist were sill strong, especially after Disney projected his own sense of alienation onto "others" in Hollywood, namely, Jews, blacks, and union workers. In retaliation against the studio entrepreneurs, who were predominantly Jewish, Disney refused to employ Jews in high-level positions at his studio or as actors in his live-action features. Not until 1969, two years after Disney's death, did a Jewish actor, Buddy Hackett, feature prominently in a Disney film, The Love Bug. Disney Studios also denied black workers even minimal opportunities, as technicians and support personnel. Because Walt Disney was an infamous racist, even for his time, it is not surprising that a film he produced himself would be racist as well. Dumbo is full of racist images and themes. Dumbo’s birth itself speaks to the foundations of racism when the other female elephants single Dumbo out because he looks different with his unusual ears. Considering the fact that “big-eared elephants are

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