You are on page 1of 4



BBA 2K11 - B
What does the word Disney bring into mind? It immediately stirs up childhood memories of
our favourite cartoons and movies. It brings happiness, joy and adventure to our minds. It is
known as "The Happiest Place on Earth". But do we really know what went behind Disney
and how far does it go?
Disneys history dates back to early 1920s when the Walt Disney Company started in a small
office in Los Angeles. It was started by Walt Disney and his older brother Roy (Wasko,
2001). Together they produced a series of short, live, animated films which were called The
Alice Comedies. The company was called The Disney Brothers Cartoon Studios, but it
was soon changed to the Walt Disney Studio, showing how Walt was the creative mind
behind the studios while Roy was the man working behind the scenes.
Walt Disney created the successful character of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit for Universal
Pictures in 1927 but his distributors not only refused Disney a raise but also threatened to cut
his pay and hire away his staff. They told him that the rights to Oswald belonged to them,
thus Disney lost his staff, money and Oswald. This is when Mickey was born who was first
named Mortimer and Disney launched the cartoon Plane Crazy. A series of short films were
created that experimented with sounds and images. In 1932 Disney being one of the first
companies to use Technicolors color process created their first full-color cartoon Flowers
and Trees, which also won them an Academy Award for Best Cartoon (Maltin, 2001). After
that Disney enjoyed a reputation of success lead by movies such as Cinderella (1950) which
was based loosely on Grimms depiction of the tale. Its economic success exceeded that of
Snow White (Maltin, 2001). Walts confidence over his success lead him to create a
Disneyland theme park which opened in California in 1955 which is a mind blowing success
till date. He started using TV, a new technology which was still not being used by many
people in Hollywood and his reputation continued to grow with the success of Disneyland
television series (Telotte, 2008). After Walts and Roys death the 1990s were declared as
The Disney Decade with great classical hits like The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast,
and the most successful animated feature ever produced The Lion King (Maltin, 2001).
Disney builds up the views of children working under its banner of constructing innocence
and entertainment as Disney believes that it has a hand in developing the minds of the
children. They educate them building the childrens political and cultural views, thus stating
themselves as a school for the children (Giroux, 1999). Yet Disney which claims to be a
school of innocence for children has been a subject of attack of a lot of racism and feminist
ideas which are said to be embodied in its movies. One of its most controversial films is the
Song of the South (1964) which depicts the plantation life in the nineteenth century and it is
full of offensive depictions. However this problematic movie still lives and continues to
embody the complicated histories of race and media convergence (Sperb, 2012). The 9 most
racist characters of Disney are 9) the merchant from Aladdin 8) Sebastian from the Little
Mermaid 7) the Crows from Dumbo 6) King Louie from the Jungle Book 5) The Siamese
Twin Gang from Chip n' Dale Rescue Rangers 4) Sunflower the Centaur from Fantasia 3)
The Indians from Peter Pan
2) Uncle Remus from Song of the South 1) Thursday from Mickey Mouse and the Boy
Thursday (Book). This shows the tale hidden behind by Disney and its characters. It sure is
interesting to find out that your favourite childhood cartoons were depicting racism or
feminism. Disney continues to deny the allegations saying that it was not done by them
deliberately but how much is true is the real question to be asked If Disney is really unaware
of the messages depicted in its movies (Joseph, 2007).

Giroux, H. A. (1999). The Mouse that Roared. USA: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, INC.
Joseph, B. (2007, November 16). The 9 Most Racist Disney Characters. Retrieved November 28, 2012,
Maltin, L. (2001). The Disney Films. 4th Ed. New York, NY: JessieFilm, Ltd.
Sperb, J. (2012). Disney's Most Notorious Film. USA: University of Texas Press.
Telotte, J. (2008). The Mouse Machine: Disney and Technology. . Urbana: University of Illinois Press.
Wasko, J. (2001). Understanding Disney: The Manufacture of Fantasy. Cambridge. UK: Blackwell
Publishers, Ltd.