Ever since the launch of their new streaming/buttcrack removal service, Disney hasn't quite known what to do with some of their old, flat-out racist content. Last fall Disney added disclaimers to certain movies on Disney+, and now they've actually pulled those titles, such as Peter Pan, Aladdin, and Dumbo, from being accessed via profiles belonging to kids. One movie that's still available to children everywhere? Pocahontas, Disney's 1995 movie about racial harmony co-starring Mel Gibson.
Now, no one's suggesting that Disney should make Pocahontas disappear from existence like Song of the South or John Lassetter -- but if they're actively designating certain movies as ones that shouldn't be consumed by children without additional context provided by adults, why the hell wouldn't they include Pocahontas in that grouping?
We probably don't have to tell you that the story of Pocahontas is about as historically-accurate as a Flintstones cigarette commercial, having been loosely adapted from the account of one white jerk who very likely made the whole thing up. Bizarrely, Disney used historians' doubts about John Smith's integrity as a rationale to change even more stuff -- because if even "they can't agree," then naturally Disney had a "certain amount of license to use what is known from the folklore to create this story."
That "license" also extended to making Pocahontas around 18-years-old instead of 11 because, according to one executive, she "has to be sexy." Somehow even worse was the sequel, Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World, which, as we've talked about it, turned her literal kidnapping, rape, and tragic death at the age of 21 into a fun, straight-to-video adventure.
Disney has known that this is a big problem for literal decades; the original film was met with controversy back in 1995, and their response to Indigenous groups expressing concern over the film's content was tantamount to "Fuck off, no one expects a history lesson from the makers of DuckTales." Producer James Pentecost stated: "Nobody should go to an animated film hoping to get the accurate depiction of history ... That's even worse than using Cliff's Notes to rely on giving you an in-depth understanding of a story."
But while no one was relying on Disney for an "in-depth" accounting of history, they also need to bear some responsibility for glibly contorting events to fit their own marketably cheerful, self-serving worldview. The movie even manages to give the story a Disney-fied happy ending, in which the white colonialists lay down their weapons and sail away --
-- when the real-life ending was, and we can't stress this enough, one of the greatest atrocities in human history.
Top Image: Disney