Walt Disney Studios have given the world many beautiful works that have become classics in the world of animation and cinema. The studio’s creations glorified enough the fundamental American values and virtues while balancing the intersection of cultures regarding oriental or Scandinavian tales. However, despite the studio’s advances in technology, the portrayal of various races has often been met with negative reviews. For example, most Disney princesses are white European, while others, such as Pocahontas, and Mulan, may exhibit masculine traits (Van Wormer and Juby 579). It is pretty challenging to explain these reasons in this case by trying to preserve the original ideas of fairy tales since modern children are, for the most part, brought upon the works of the Disney studio.
The portrayal of Arabs in Disney’s Aladdin has also sparked many conflicts. The implausible and poorly understood portrayal of the race as “poor, dirty and thieving” against the backdrop of a dexterous protagonist did not leave Arab Americans indifferent (Islam and Akter 80). Although Disney studios tend to do some pretty serious work on the culture they depict, asking for permission from the indigenous people of a particular race, as with Pocahontas, the final product can still contain quite gross errors (Zurcher, Webb, and Robinson 47). If Aladdin’s case is purely racial, then there is also a gender issue in the case of princesses.
The stereotypical portrayal of race in such essential works for raising children is unacceptable, especially given the current trends in the development of respect and acceptance. Especially considering the target audience of Disney, which creates cartoons and films for the most impressionable children, the company has a great responsibility for portraying races in its works.
Islam, Md Mohiul, and Nilufa Akter. “Disney’s Aladdin (2019), the Old Rum in the New Bottle.” Ultimacomm: Jurnal Ilmu Komunikasi, vol. 12, no. 1, 2020, pp. 72-87.
Van Wormer, Katherine, and Cindy Juby. “Cultural representations in Walt Disney films: Implications for social work education.” Journal of Social Work, vol. 16, no. 5, 2017, pp. 578-594.
Zurcher, Jessica D., Sarah M. Webb, and Tom Robinson. “The portrayal of families across generations in Disney animated films.” Social Sciences, vol. 7, no. 3, 2018, p. 47.