Disney is far from innocent. Despite good intentions, a golden reputation, and an ability to win over the hearts of audiences all over the world, Disney films don’t always have the best track record. Thankfully, though, it’s the kind of company that at least attempts to learn from its mistakes, right? Or maybe that’s just what they’d probably like to believe. In all honesty, Disney has tackled some questionable behavior in their G and PG-rated flicks, and it’s anyone’s guess how some of the material they let slide ever made it past the cutting room floor.
From the earliest era of Disney animation in the early 20th century to some some films released within the past few years even, Disney hasn’t always done justice to its family-friendly brand. Whether through subtlety or even outright blatancy, some of the animated movies you grew up watching featured material that will make you wonder how exactly this studio ever became so synonymous with modest family fare.
It’s one thing to say, “That’s just show business for you,” but when the majority of the audience is comprised of children, shady behavior is all the more frowned upon. Keep reading to explore 15 Disney Scenes That Would Never Be Allowed Today.
15. Pinocchio The Smoker
Children smoking on screen isn’t the kind of thing that usually flies with the MPAA. And yes, even when a particular child happens to be a wooden doll. Pinocchio‘s journey is all about embarking on a quest to become a “real boy,” but it turns out to be an odyssey of disastrous and life-threatening proportions. In fact, giant whales and conmen aside, one life-threatening aspect he experiences just so happens to be the first step in lung cancer development.
These days, kids smoking just wouldn’t happen. The MPAA is too strict, parents are too concerned, and film studios are too paranoid about negative press. But here we are in 1940 with a wooden puppet sucking down a cigar like he’s at the track betting on his lucky pony.
14. Shun Gon Asian Stereotype – The Aristocats
As precious as Disney might seem, they have a bad history with racial stereotypes. The racist Asian stereotype in The Aristocats just happens to be one of them.
While the central characters in this movie are treated with respect in their depictions, the musical Shun Gon is treated like an ill-natured racist joke. Everything from the stereotypical physical features, the buck teeth, and even the pointless inclusion of chopsticks, this kind of depiction would never get the seal of approval in this day and age.
If the animators back in the day didn’t understand how insensitive this portrayal of was, well, it’s just a testament to how backwards things were back in the early days of Disney. Not that they necessarily stepped their game up very much after this movie was released…
13. The Corpse Army – Black Cauldron
If there is one thing that definitely doesn’t fly with young children, it’s zombies. There’s just something about humans who die, decompose, and then come back to life as skeletons fighting for the bad guys that tends to bother them.
The Black Cauldron features zombies galore. The Horned King is in need of some loyal henchman, so he uses his dark magic to resurrect some corpses, creating his personal Army of the Dead.
From a villainous standpoint, this makes sense. When you’re a character hellbent on covering the world in darkness, while also ridding it of any positivity, you probably won’t think twice about bringing the dead back to life, but when it’s happening in a movie aimed at children, maybe tone it down a notch.
12. “Song Of The Roustabouts” – Dumbo
In 2019, Tim Burton will release his adaptation of Dumbo, the live-action remake of the story about a flying elephant. And while Burton is hardly the sort of director known for scaling down on button-pushing (though you can argue that that isn’t really the case in some of his more recent films), audiences can only hope that he leaves one particular song out of his adaptation: “The Song of the Roustabouts”.
This scene depicts a group of African -American circus laborers singing through their work, and the lyrics are reprehensible at best. Lyrics like “We work all day, we work all night / We never learned to read or write / We’re happy-hearted roustabouts” and “When other folks have gone to bed / We slave until we’re almost dead” are just a few examples of the blatant references to slavery.
11. Historical Inaccuracies – Pocahontas
Pocahontas was released during the Disney Renaissance (a ten year period between 1989 and 1999 when Disney had returned to form with their animated feature films), but it wasn’t met with quite as many accolades as its counterparts. In fact, while movies like The Little Mermaid and Hercules earned Rotten Tomatoes scores of 92 percent and 83 percent, respectively, Pocahontas earned a meager 56 percent.
Could that lower rating have had something to do with how historically inaccurate this depiction of the real life story was? Possibly. Empire Magazine called it “historically dubious,” while the Washington Post accused it of reviving “the stereotype of the Noble Savage.” These days, it’s safe to say that Disney would be a bit more careful in tackling a film inspired by real events.
10. The Male Savior
In Disney films like Brave and Frozen, the act of “saving the day” came from independent women who were more than capable of taking care of themselves without the assistance of outsiders (especially outsiders who just so happen to be men).
That said, plenty of older Disney films featuring princesses in main character slots didn’t necessarily adhere to this system. In most Disney movies, the women end up being nothing more than damsels in distress (no matter how capable they may have seemed throughout the bulk of the film), and the men (who are hardly fleshed-out characters as it is) show up to save the day.
9. Bad Touch – The Three Caballeros
If you were under the impression that Disney animated films are guaranteed to not feature any inappropriate groping, you were wrong. As it just so happens, when Donald Duck took a trip to South America, he also took a trip into the realm of sexual harassment. Seriously.
In this live-action/animation combo, all of the characters appear to be having fun, but once the film makes light of grabbing a woman’s breast with zero consent (and in a children’s movie), a line in the sand needs to be drawn.
Why producers were down with this sort of behavior— whether in a children’s movie or not— is just proof that some people unfortunately take sexual harassment lightly, which doesn’t really help Hollywood’s already troubled image.
8. Mocking Native Americans – Peter Pan
The depiction of Native Americans in Disney’s Peter Pan is nothing short of appalling. Everything their caricatured features to the way other non-Native American characters try mimicking their behaviors shows a severe lack of respect towards the culture. To make things even worse, the dialogue and lyrics that reference these characters are just as bad.
The song titled “What Made the Red Man Red” implies that the skin color of a Native American is due to this: “Let’s go back a million years/ To the very first Injun prince/ He kissed a maid and start to blush/ And we’ve all been blushin’ since.”
There is racism, there is insensitivity, and then there’s this. Sadly, lessons weren’t really learned as Joe Wright’s recent live-action adaptation of Peter Pan was host to its own issues of racism, specifically in terms of whitewashing.
7. Phallic Phase – Hercules, The Little Mermaid, Etc.
For some reason, Disney went through a phallic phase. In The Little Mermaid, part of King Triton’s castle is unmistakably a shaft, and later on in the film, the priest who is marrying Eric to (the human form of) Ursula appears to experience some sudden blood flow into his nether regions. In Hercules, the antagonist Nessus receives a giant welt on his head which, if you look closely, is in the shape of rod (which also happens to play host to a pair of testicles just for good measure).
While subtlety is one thing, this sort of thing just won’t fly these days. And, in fact, there is proof of this. An angry viewer reported the fact that a penis had been secretly drawn into the Netflix show Maya the Bee, and the episode was promptly edited to remove said genitalia. In this HD, on-demand world, good luck trying to get away with (dirty) hidden messages.
6. Dead Protagonist – The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow
If there is one constant in Disney animated movies, it’s that the main characters will always live to see another day. Even when the going gets tough, they persevere and overcome all of the hardships that have plagued them over the course of their respective film.
As it turns out, though, this isn’t always the case. In Disney’s animated adaptation of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Ichabod Crane doesn’t overcome his fears, save the day, and ride off into the sunset. He drowns in his fears, doesn’t save the day, and rides off into the afterlife after the Headless Horseman lops off his head.
5. Unconscious kissing – Snow White
Seeing as Disney was creating a whole new wave of entertainment, they could have been innovators with anything they wanted. For whatever reason, though, they went with corpse-kissing. In Snow White, when the titular princess falls victim to the Evil Queen, she’s done for. Her corpse is literally prepped in the casket for burial and all is lost.
That is, until the Prince (who she met—what—once?) shows up out of the blue and inexplicably decides to kiss her on the mouth. While this does turn out to have the power to bring her back from the dead, this is something that Disney will more than likely keep out of any future retellings of the character. No matter how you spin it, this is nothing less than creepy.
4. “Hey Cutie! Wanna Pollinate With A Real Bug?” – A Bug’s Life
While romance and love is typically in the air in most Disney movies, lines are definitely crossed in Pixar’s second feature film, A Bug’s Life.
During one of his many performances, Francis the Ladybug is heckled by a couple of flies in the audience. Confusing him for a woman (on account of being a ladybug), one of them pushes a blatant sexual gesture onto him, going so far as to incorporate pollination.
Now, even though this sort of thing will more than likely go over most kids’ heads, modern parents are entirely thrilled with having movies or TV shows interfering with their parental tactics. So, subtle references to sex—maybe they’ll get a light pass. Anything else, though, most likely won’t stand a chance these days.
3. Getting Flashed – Cars
Seeing as Disney/Pixar’s Cars doesn’t include humans, parents can rest assured that absolutely zero nudity will take place on screen. Well, zero nudity from humans at least. But suggestive nudity from motor vehicles? Yeah. That happens.
While Lighting McQueen is parading around his successes and basking in the limelight, he is approached by two eager fans. These fans flash him their headlights, as though to imply that they are flashing their breasts, and even though there isn’t anything on screen that’ll scar any children’s innocent thoughts, the suggestive nature might be a bit of stretch for a studio that prides itself on always being in good taste.
2. Upskirt – Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
Ever since Who Framed Roger Rabbit? was released in 1988, the character Jessica Rabbit has been a sexual icon— despite the fact that she is 100 percent animated. Everything from her revealing dress to her voluptuous build added to her allure, and audiences were happy to eat it up.
As it turns out, though, Jessica Rabbit’s sexuality extends even beyond her looks and demeanor. When the animated car in which she is riding shotgun slams into a streetlight, she and actor Bob Hoskins go soaring forward out of the car. They fall down a small hill, and on their way down, there are a few frames revealing Jessica’s bare nether regions.
1. “Night On Bald Mountain” – Fantasia
The symphonic animation Fantasia is a crowning achievement in Disney films, not just in terms of its visual and musical splendor, but in the fact that Disney got kids to sit through an entire two hour symphony. That said, in their third animated feature, Disney apparently thought it’d be totally fine to slip some nudity onto the screen. It’s animated, demonic, and shows up in a flash, but still… nudity is nudity.
During the segment titled “Night on Bald Mountain” (you know, the one with a giant, winged Satan), harpies galore are flying towards the screen, and as would appropriately be the case for harpies, they’re void of a single thread of clothing. The thing is, though, seeing as this is a Disney production for children, the animators should have problem taken some creative liberties and made these monsters a bit more, uh, decent.
Are there other inappropriate Disney scenes that deserve a spot on this list? Let us know in the comments!
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