Top 10 Disney Moments That Wouldn’t Work Today



Top 10 Disney Moments That Wouldn't Work Today

VOICE OVER: Emily - WatchMojo WRITTEN BY: George Pacheco
There are just some things in classic Disney movies that wouldn't work today.
It was...a different time. Welcome to MsMojo, and today we're counting down our picks for the Top 10 Things in Classic Disney Movies That Wouldn't Work Today.

For this list, we'll be ranking scenes, visual gags, and dialogue from popular Disney and Pixar films that leave our jaws on the floor on repeat viewings. We’re taking into account whether these were indicative of the social mores of their day; point is, these would almost certainly be left on the cutting room floor if produced today.

#10: Headlights
“Cars” (2006)

Believe it or not, there are a number of adult themed jokes in this 2006 Pixar film that might fly over the heads of viewers who aren't paying close attention. For starters, there is the blink-and-you'll-miss-it advertisement of “convertible waitresses” at a roadside truckstop. Given that the world of “Cars” centers around thinking, talking automobiles, that idea is a bit more salacious than meets the eye. So… what are the implications of a couple of groupies flashing their “headlights” at Lightning McQueen after a big race? Seriously though, the intent behind these scenes may seem innocent to young kids, but adults would likely balk at their inclusion today.

#9: Salacious Sanderson
“Hocus Pocus” (1993)

To be honest, the very specific humor of this 1993 film has helped it become the cult hit and beloved Halloween watch it is today. The tone does jump around a bit, though, coming across at times as crude and sophomoric. One example of the somewhat “adult” humor shows up when Sarah Jessica Parker's Sarah Sanderson and her siblings hop on a city bus. SJP proceeds to also hop on the bus driver's lap, flirting and laughing with the driver as she “helps” with the driving. Cue the “speed bump” jokes, with the implication behind the scene being just a wee bit of fooling around. Sure, it's all fairly innocent, but don't expect to see this sort of a joke in any sequel.

#8: Creepy Mushu
“Mulan” (1998)

We can all agree that Eddie Murphy’s casting as Mulan's guardian dragon/comedic relief sidekick was nothing short of inspired - not to mention infinity quotable. Shortly after introducing himself to her, Mushu tries to convince her not to judge a travel-sized book by its cover, boasting how all-powerful he is. Apparently among his abilities is x-ray vision, which, considering where his eyes are looking, seems like an odd thing to say. Mulan's reaction of slapping Mushu is kinda warranted, and if we’re talking dishonor here, we might throw it Mushu’s way.

#7: Conveyor Belt Doll
“Santa's Workshop” (1932)

Aw, c'mon! Not even good ol' Saint Nick is safe? Unfortunately not. Early versions of this holiday-themed Disney short featured Santa and his elves hard at work getting toys ready for good boys and girls. Santa then inspects the dolls on the assembly line to ensure quality control. First, a white doll comes down a conveyor belt, says “mama,” and gets approved by Santa. Then, a black doll tumbles down the belt, says “mammy,” stamps her own butt, prompting Santa to laugh heartily. This “Silly Symphony” was released back in 1932, but given the word “mammy”’s ties to slavery and the doll's exaggerated features, it's no wonder Disney has removed this scene for several releases since.

#6: Hidden Figures
“The Rescuers” (1977)

Idle hands are the Devil's playthings...or at least they are when they belong to a team of Disney animators in the 1970s. It's an infamous story: when the final cut of the animated hit, “The Rescuers” was released, Disney employees snuck in an image of a nude woman - though you’d have to do a lot of zooming and enhancing to catch it. Disney would eventually - nearly two decades later - recall the VHS tapes that contained the controversial image, but the scene where Orville gives Miss Bianca and Bernard a lift has become notorious ever since. Disney’s Fort Knox-level security nowadays would never allow this sort of slip up to happen again… right?

#5: Hookah Time
“Alice in Wonderland” (1951)

Consider this next entry a definite case of changing social mores. Lewis Carroll’s original story featured the Caterpillar smoking a hookah, and has been adapted numerous times since in much the same way. 1951’s “Alice in Wonderland” is hands-down one of the trippiest Disney movies, so we wouldn’t be surprised if the Caterpillar was casually puffing and listening to some Jefferson Airplane before Alice came to bug him. It’s not uncommon to see smoking in older Disney films - just look at Pinocchio puffing on a cigar - but as the company continues to adapt to suit its impressionable family audience, this seems like something they’d steer clear of.

#4: “We Are Siamese (If You Don’t Please)”
“Lady and the Tramp” (1955)

We’re SURE you sang this as a kid completely unaware of how insanely racist it is. Over the years, Disney’s films have taken to using stereotypes in their characterizations - one needs only to look at “Everybody Wants to Be a Cat” in “The Aristocats” to realize that the company hasn't always been kind to Asians in their films. A decade and a half earlier, two villainous Siamese cats, Si and Am are introduced to make poor Lady’s life miserable. Well, if the slanted eyes and buck teeth don’t offend, the gong noises - a common gag - certainly will. You want proof Disney regretted this? Their 2019 live-action remake replaced the sequence with “What a Shame.”

#3: A Crow Named Jim
“Dumbo” (1941)

Who knew that a film about an adorable elephant would have inappropriate content? Don’t believe us? Okay: that scene where Dumbo gets drunk? A big NOPE. And these guys? Eeesh. We’ll explain: the 1941 cartoon sees Dumbo and Timothy Q. Mouse meeting a group of crows. In the years since the film’s release, their manner of speaking - as well as the fact that their leader’s name is Jim Crow in the original script - have caused controversy. You see, in the United States, Jim Crow laws basically made racial segregation legal until the mid-1960s, so it’s hard to brush this off as a coincidence. However, some say Dumbo’s crows are simply parodying popular African American entertainers of the era. Either way, it seems like Disney wanted to steer clear of any dispute, so Tim Burton’s 2019 adaptation found a way around both of these questionable elements.

#2: “What Made the Red Man Red?”
“Peter Pan” (1953)

We're not sure if the powers that be behind Disney's “Peter Pan” intended for the Indian tribe sequence to be insensitive. What we do know is this musical number would absolutely not be allowed in the modern day, despite its happy-go-lucky exterior. Even one of the supervising animators, Marc Davis, said, “I'm not sure we would have done the Indians if we were making this movie now. And if we had we wouldn't do them the way we did back then.” The company has attempted to remedy this on several occasions, ranging from writing the chief and company out of the 2002 sequel to a disclaimer on Disney+. Today, the scene is rather embarrassing in what's otherwise an absolute Disney classic.

Before we get to our number one pick, here are a few honorable mentions:

Genie’s Jokes
“Aladdin” franchise (1992-96)

“That ‘Oedipus’ Thing”
“Hercules” (1997)

“A Bug's Life” (1998)

Piggy's Been Busy
“Muppet Treasure Island” (1996)

Big Bad Wolf’s Racist Disguise
“Three Little Pigs” (1933)

#1: Basically… All of It
“Song of the South” (1946)

Disney's “Song of the South,” derived from Uncle Remus folktales, is infamous for a number of reasons, as many believe that the film marginalizes the impact of slavery. Even when this movie was being made, there was a worry it would draw controversy. An NAACP statement at the time critiqued, “Making use of the beautiful Uncle Remus folklore, ‘Song of the South’ unfortunately gives the impression of an idyllic master-slave relationship which is a distortion of the facts.” When the film was screened in Atlanta in 1946, Walt Disney quickly left, upset by reviews, and Uncle Remus actor James Baskett wasn’t allowed to come, as the city was still racially segregated. To this day, the film has failed to receive an uncut home video release in the United States.
I agreed with this list.