1. 1. Aladdin, 1992
Aladdin came under fire soon after its release for its portrayal of Middle Eastern culture, especially the intro song “Arabian Nights,” which originally contained the verse: “Where they cut off your ear / If they don’t like your face / It’s barbaric, but hey, it’s home.” (The DVD release changed it to: “Where it’s flat and immense and the heat is intense.”)
Critics also point out how Aladdin, the good guy, is portrayed with pale skin and Caucasian features, while Jafar, the villain, is drawn to have darker skin, facial hair, and a more ethnic visage.
3. 2. Lady and the Tramp, 1955
Si and Am, the Siamese cats who are portrayed with stereotypical Asian speech and slanted eyes, serve as the movie’s cunning, sneaky villains.
There’s also Pedro, the chihuahua with exaggerated Mexican attributes.
5. 3. One of Our Dinosaurs Is Missing, 1978
Here’s the plot of this long-buried gem from Disney’s past: “Lord Southmere escapes from China with a microfilm of the formula for the mysterious ‘Lotus X,’ and is captured by Chinese spies who have been instructed to retrieve the microfilm from him. Escaping from his captors, Lord Southmere hides the microfilm in the bones of a large dinosaur at the National History Museum. However, he has been followed into the museum by the spies, and is recaptured.”
SPOILER ALERT: The microfilm that started the whole mess is a recipe for wonton soup.
According to the blog I Will Not Love You Long Time, the language is also horrendously offensive: “This is the first film I have watched that has that stereotypical, over exaggerated accent. One of Our Dinosaurs Is Missing is just the most God-awful representation of someone of Chinese descent that I have seen yet. Every ‘r’ gets mixed up with every ‘l.’ The speaking characters add the suffix ‘-ah’ to every other word and butcher the English language shamelessly. Ustinov and Bresslaw employ a funky gutteral ‘nnnnnnnnnnnnn’ noise after every sentence. When Ustinov reads ‘Chinese’ out loud it sounds like this: ‘foy toy mee shee loo mah tung ah…’”
There’s also some really bad “yellowface” makeup, including taped eyelids and blue eyeshadow.
7. 4. The Little Mermaid, 1989
People have taken issue with the drawing of the fluke, who’s the “Duke of Soul.”
8. As well as the “blackfish.”
10. 5. Peter Pan, 1953
The Native Americans in Peter Pan are drawn with bright red skin and are mute except for the chief, who communicates in broken English.
Peter, John, Wendy, and Michael eventually join the dancing while sporting feathers and headdresses and making the traditional “whooping” sound.
There’s also the song “What Makes The Red Man Red?” which just has to be watched to be believed.
13. 6. The Jungle Book, 1967
In the film adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s book, Mowgli stumbles upon a group of monkeys (or possibly orangutans) who leap down from the trees and begin singing about their desire to be human. Though everyone else in the jungle speaks in British English, the monkeys are the only characters in the movie whose voices “sound African-American.”
14. 7. Pocahontas, 1995
From a blog on Disney movies: “[Pocahontas] endorses the idea of the good/bad Indian. It also underscores the notion of Native Americans as ‘savages.’ Additionally, the happy and joyful ending of the film twist the history of killings and oppression of Native Americans.”
15. 8. The Aristocats, 1970
Yup, that’s a Siamese cat playing the piano with chopsticks.
16. 9. Dumbo, 1941
In one scene, faceless black men pitch a circus tent, singing a song about how happy they are the whole time, including the lyrics, “We slave until we’re almost dead / We’re happy-hearted roustabouts” and “Keep on working / Stop that shirking / Pull that rope, you hairy ape.”
Dumbo also meets three black crows, one actually named “Jim Crow,” who smoke cigars, speak in jive, and are portrayed as lazy.
18. 10. Fantasia, 1940
The original version of the movie featured a dark-skinned centaur named Sunflower waiting on the other, light-skinned centaurs. Disney later removed the scene from the movie.