The 10 Best Disney Scandals
Courtesy Of: daily.likeme.net
Ah, Disney. Maker of dreams, animator of the 20th century, visionary of theme parks and television as a medium and the genius of marketing to families based on little but putting a new spin on old stories. Creator of the Happiest Place on Earth, Mousekateers, and some of the most beloved cartoons ever to hit theaters (until Pixar came along and showed them how it’s done for the 21st century). Disney’s legacy is found in the good memories for kids of all ages, and it’s still going strong today. Something to admire, certainly.
And then there are the things of which Walt might not have been so proud.
10. The Rescuers’ Topless Woman
This practical joke was supposedly done in post-production, which translates to Disney saying that they had nothing to do with it. And maybe they didn’t; but it’s even funnier that the joke itself was nearly undetectable before the advent of home VCRs and digital media, at which time it was finally discovered. Bianca and Bernard flying past a nude woman in a window, shown from the waist up, is pretty funny. That Disney had to recall VHS tapes of the cartoon 22 years later is even funnier. But Dads across the nation in 1977 got inexplicably aroused by a Disney cartoon? Priceless. (And you can insert your own Rescuers Down Under joke here.)
9. The Little Mermaid’s Penises
There were two penis-related hubbubs upon the release of The Little Mermaid movies to tape in the mid-90s, when religious groups were combing cartoons frame-by-frame in order to back up their spurious claim that Disney was intentionally inserting sexual images into their movies—not just The Little Mermaid, but Aladdin as well. (What the upside might have been for Disney, who’s notorious for overprotecting their image, was never really clear.) In The Little Mermaid, the more easily-explained reference has to do with the Bishop having an erection—which is clearly just supposed to be his knobby knee under his robe. Less easily explained is the legendary dildo-tower on the cover of the video, which supposedly was put there purposefully by a “disgruntled artist.” According to Snopes.com, the artist himself is on record as saying that the resemblance is an innocent mistake, brought on by a lot of artwork under deadline, and some late nights doing it. The artwork, that is.
8. Mickey Mouse’s Suicide
Or near-suicide, anyway. Check out this panel from the 1930s Mickey Mouse comic strip, found in many national newspapers of the day, and wonder that it was ever approved. Granted, it hasn’t been re-printed much since, except on the internet, which is exactly the reason for which the internet was invented: to keep embarrassing people for all eternity by preserving in digital amber their worst mistakes.
7. Vanessa Hudgens’ Internet Exhibitionism
In the long line of Mousekateers and assorted Disney-kids gone bad, the story of Vanessa Hudgens (High School Musical) looms largest. And that’s saying something, considering that her competition for this is none other than Britney Spears, who might be a power player in music, but is by no means Disney-ready anymore. But Ms. Hudgens, who was in full-teen-idol mode when nude pics and a sex tape surfaced in 2007, paid the price for disappointing the Mouse: since then, she’s been seen in precious little. Though she might have a shot at a very bit part in the next Rescuers feature.
6. Roger Rabbit’s Inappropriate Art
This wasn’t even a movie for kids—not in the same sense that most Disney flicks are, anyway. But still, Who Framed Roger Rabbit? has gotten its share of objections. And maybe rightly so, since there are purposefully-done blips of film that seem to be more racy than might otherwise be acceptable in a Disney film, albeit one closer to Heavy Metal than Snow White. One shows Jessica Rabbit going commando under that red dress of hers for a few frames (though since the curtains match the drapes, it’s tough to tell). Another happens when Baby Herman goes under a woman’s skirt with his finger extended, and comes out the other side of the skirt with drool on his upper lip. But given the general sense of sexual innuendo throughout the film, it’s unclear why exactly this might be a surprise, other than to parents who weren’t really paying attention in the first place.
5. General and Constant Racism
This one is blatant and widespread in Disney films. There’s a reason that the movie Song of the South has never been released on video in the U.S. And it’s the same reason that the same fate probably should have befallen the following Disney movies: Dumbo, with its ebonic crows (one of which is named—I’m not kidding—Jim. Jim Crow. Seriously.); Fantasia, with its blackface centaurs serving the pretty white centaurs; Lady and the Tramp, whose Siamese cats are the yellow peril given voice…the list (very sadly) goes on. And lest you think this is a product of another era: check out the blackface fish in the “Under the Sea” set piece from The Little Mermaid, or lyrics from Aladdin describing Arabic culture as a place “where they cut off your ear if they don’t like your face.” Ah, those backward, racist 1990s.
4. Disneyland’s Dis-invitations
Up until the late 1960s, men with long hair were stopped at the gates and denied entrance into the Happiest Place on Earth for not abiding by Disney’s unwritten rules of grooming and dress. But they’re in good—or at least famous—company. When Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev came to America in 1959, he was denied admission to the theme park too. When reached for comment, the spirit of Walt Disney is reported to have said: “Red and hairy is no way to go through life, son.”
Quick: what’s the one thing you think you know about lemmings? If you said that they dive willingly off cliffs to their deaths, committing mass-suicide in order to avoid overpopulation? You’ve fallen for one of Disney’s weirdest, least necessary and most enduring scams. Lemmings just don’t do that. They just don’t. The whole thing was invented by James Simon, principal photographer for the Disney nature film White Wilderness, for which producers paid Inuit children for their lemming pets, put them on a turntable to simulate “migration,” and then herded a bunch of them over a cliff. It’s insane, it’s awful, and it’s something many of us watched on TV and in school and totally bought as fact. You know, like we did with geometry, which we all now know is complete crap.
1. Walt’s Secret Life as a Nazi Porn King who was Cryogenically Frozen
One of the few items on this list that isn’t true—or at least provable—is this one. Walt Disney might have been a prude (he was) and might have edged toward the culturally insensitive (he did) and might have held to some pretty conservative ideals (he really, really did), but he wasn’t a Nazi, he wasn’t a massive porn addict, and he was buried—all of him—in Forest Lawn Glendale Cemetery. These sorts of rumors naturally gravitate to the folks who’d surprise you the most, the family-friendly Walt Disney being perhaps foremost among them, in his day. But the genius of the House of Mouse was just a farm boy and master storyteller who knew how to market the hell out of a cartoon character, and built an empire. And the fact that his name is on this list as a brand? Is proof of his success.