I’ve said here multiple times before that my family and I are big Disney fans. I’ve also said that Disney is making it awfully hard for anybody who’s not woke to be a fan.
Part of my crazy Disney fandom entails being part of Disney fan groups on social media. One of the groups I’m in posted an article from a site called Inside the Magic that talked about Disney beginning to consider certain characters “potentially problematic.”
Now here’s the thing: Inside the Magic is notorious for clickbait headlines to nothingburger articles. One recent article lamented that a beloved restaurant at Walt Disney World was shutting its doors. Turns out the restaurant is closing for a few weeks for refurbishment.
Nevertheless, I checked out the article and couldn’t believe what I saw.
Two beloved characters from one of Disney’s first post-World War II successes and the inspiration for a ride that always has long lines at Disney’s theme parks are now “potentially problematic” in the eyes of some people inside The Walt Disney Company (TWDC).
Inside the Magic cites a New York Times article with the ominous headline “Disney, Built on Fairy Tales and Fantasy, Confronts the Real World.” The article points out that the Stories Matter team — apparently the source of much of Disney’s latest woke turn — is expressing issues with Tinkerbell and Captain Hook from 1953’s Peter Pan.
“Tinker Bell was marked for caution because she is ‘body conscious’ and jealous of Peter Pan’s attention, according to the executives, while Captain Hook could expose Disney to accusations of discrimination or prejudice against individuals with disabilities because he is a villain,” reports the New York Times piece.
Disney already runs a disclaimer at the beginning of Peter Pan on its streaming site Disney+, and viewers with a children’s profile can’t even watch it without a parent or guardian’s permission. At issue there is the portrayal of Native Americans, which really isn’t much more than cringeworthy.
What’s funny is that Disney has made even more out of those two characters. Tinkerbell inspired her own series of Disney Channel movies and tons of merchandise, while Captain Hook was also the comic villain for the Disney Junior series Jake and the Neverland Pirates. (Oh, and not once did the kid pirates ever say, “That dude is bad because he has a hook for a hand.”) The Disney Parks ride Peter Pan’s Flight is wildly (and somewhat inexplicably) popular, with longer lines than most Fantasyland attractions.
Does this mean that Disney will get rid of those movies and shows. too? Or will they place disclaimers that say, “It’s okay to be fat,” or “Not everybody who has a hook for a hand is a bad guy”? What about Peter Pan’s Flight: will they close it?
There’s more. The Stories Matter wokesters are also concerned about my personal favorite villain, Ursula from 1989’s The Little Mermaid.
“Her dark color palette (lavender skin, black legs) could be viewed through a racial lens, the Stories Matter team cautioned; she is also a ‘queer coded’ character, with mannerisms inspired in part by those of a real-life drag queen,” the NYT points out. That last part — the fact that animators based Ursula’s look on the late drag queen actor Divine — used to be a point of pride for the left.
All of this really started back in the ’80s when Disney shelved the 1946 film Song of the South for what the company perceived as racial stereotypes, despite the fact that the film was innovative in the way Disney combined live action with animation and the fact that its star, James Baskette, became the first black male actor to win an Oscar, albeit an honorary one.
Luminaries like Leonard Maltin and Disney’s first black animator Floyd Norman have called for Disney to rerelease it, and Disney even based the theme park ride Splash Mountain on characters from Song of the South. Disney Imagineers have discussed retheming Splash Mountain, but sites like Inside the Magic have begun to wonder if that idea is off the table.
Now we have the Stories Matter team overthinking everything, going woke on beloved characters, and viewing everything historical through a presentist lens. They’re ruining everything they touch with “How much longer can it last?” Some TWDC executives think this phenomenon needs to end.
“At least some people inside Disney are concerned that such sensitivities go too far,” notes the NYT. “One of the executives worried that looking at artistic creations through a ‘politically correct filter’ could chill creativity.”
Don’t forget about the Disney cast members who poured their hearts out in an open letter about how not everyone at Disney believes in the far-left extreme LGBTQetc agenda.
Maybe the pendulum will start to swing back toward common sense, and maybe it’ll happen sooner rather than later. I hope Disney will come to its senses, and I know I’m not alone.
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