Some movies just don’t age well.
And it appears that many movie fans who had not seen Disney standard ‘Dumbo’ since they were young – or in some cases were seeing it for the first time – were perturbed by some of the characterisations from the 1941 animation, following a rare re-run on Channel 4 yesterday.
Many took to Twitter to voice their concerns over racist stereotypes, as well as scenes of animal cruelty in a movie aimed at kids.
Most of the ire was saved up for the Crows, played out as crude stereotypes of African-Americans, and noted to be as such in academic studies of the Disney movie.
— Fiona Shoop (@FiShoop)February 21, 2016
I’m glad the racist stereotype in Dumbo was picked up I literally thought I was the only one. Dumbo is so cute though the feels the feels— Nicole-Lauren (@_phoenx)February 21, 2016
Turns out Dumbo is even MORE racist than I thought— アレクシス (@lexi_b_c)February 21, 2016
I don’t care if it’s hideously racist, I’m gonna watch Dumbo on Channel 4!— ☆ Simon ☆ (@TheSimonC90)February 21, 2016
Scenes of Dumbo’s mother being shackled and lashed were also frowned up, and that’s without the psychedelic 'pink elephants’ scene which features the young elephant drunk on champagne having vivid and frightening hallucinations.
Others were quick to denounce the accusations of racial criticism as modern political correctness, however, excusing it as having been made in a different era.
— Stacey watt (@weestaz2010)February 21, 2016
#dumbo the film was made in 1941…It’s obviously not going to reflect the PC of today! Think calling it racist Is a slight exaggeration 🙈— Vix (@vixrowan)February 22, 2016
— CheekyLatte❤️#Brexit (@cheekylatte)February 21, 2016
Released in 1941 …. Dumbo is today being criticised for its non PC conforms …. 75 years later …. Now they’ll want to sensor Disney. 👍— Gary Donaldson (@unitedlofts)February 21, 2016
But the scene featuring the Crows has long been accused of racism, with the characters speaking in caricatured southern accents, and the leader of the flock even being called Jim Crow, the name of the racial segregation laws installed in the south in the late 1800s and named after a song called 'Jump Jim Crow’, a minstrel show standard often performed in 'blackface’.
Whatever you think of re-reading the scenes now, decades later, it’s hard to deny there’s an ugly insensitivity at play there.
Image credits: Disney