4 Weird Kids' Movies Controversies People Forgot About
Disney has always been prone to controversy, but it's what we've come to expect from one of the biggest media companies known for their general lack of transparency and indecisiveness on simple things like whether a character is gay or not. It shouldn't be that hard, folks. Alas, the Walt Disney Company has an entire Wikipedia page dedicated solely to any and all criticism and complaints against it, and while some of it has been fair — many a Disney title has been condemned for its racist and/or sexist portrayals — some of it has been quite bananas. Some of it makes us wonder how not only Disney and others making kids content but also us, as a society, have even made it this far.
People Complained About The Environmental Theme In Bambi
Ah, Bambi. The cartoon that made everyone learn what it means to ugly cry in a movie theater. The movie not only gave many a child nightmares over that whole scene with Bambi's mother but ended up being considered one of the most graphic and horrific onscreen deaths … even though we never actually saw Mama Bambi's body.
Ugh, it still hurts. Anyway, you'd think that if there was anything any parent would've complained about back in 1942, it would've been the sad death scene in a kids' movie. But no, because why bemoan something that makes kids cry when the promotion of ecological conservation is right there?
Let's quickly refresh: Bambi tells the story of a young deer who is also the prince of the forest and who, along with his friends Thumper (a rabbit) and Flower (a skunk), must learn to protect and care for their forest kingdom. Oh, and they must try their best to not get shot by hunters who may or may not burn down their forest deliberately or by accident. It's the movie that taught us that man is stupid and can't be trusted with guns or nature. It's also the movie that taught us our mothers will, sadly, one day die. O.G. Disney was harsh.
Of course, some people did not like these very true and very fair life lessons, and by some people, we, of course, mean hunters. Outdoor Life editor Raymond J. Brown wrote that the movie was "the worst insult ever offered in any form to American sportsmen" because killing animals is fun for some people, and don't you dare tell them they're not cool for it. No, it is you, the one crying over Bambi's mother, who's the real true scum here, falling for Disney's "Bambi propaganda" and whatnot. Boy, such logic. You know who else hated the original German Bambi story so much they even burned the books? That's right — Nazis.
Bambi was released during a time when wildfires were starting to wreak havoc across the U.S., and Walt Disney wanted to address the largely man-made problem somehow. Bambi as a character was offered to the U.S. Forest Service as a conservation icon, but a bunch of people weren't too happy about it. Donnie Dunagan, the actor who voiced young Bambi, said Walt Disney received heaps of hate mail, forcing the deal to be struck down a year later because sometimes, kids, bad guys win too. The little deer was instead replaced by Smokey Bear … who years later would bring Bambi and friends back for a PSA on conservation, sticking it to everyone who doesn't want cartoon characters making their sport of killing animals look bad.
People Lost Their Minds Over WALL-E
WALL-E tells the story of an adorable little robot left to clean up the wasteland that is Earth after people all but destroyed it with their greed and consumerism. Yep, that sounds about right. WALL-E meets a probing robot called EVE and travels with her back to the spaceship where humans now live their best lives of consuming and enduring. It's an extremely cute and uncomfortably accurate portrayal of both robots and humans, respectively, so of course, there were people who had problems with it. You see, God help anyone who portrays a human being in an unflattering light, ever.
We're not going to discuss the entire list of complaints because, yes, there was an actual list of complaints about this movie — from Disney being environmental hypocrites (sure) to the movie being too popular (wait, what?). We truly are a species. Most bonkers, however, were the people calling the robot love story "liberal fascism," like the writers over at The National Review, who argued that the Pixar movie warning everyone against humanity's oblivious nature and thoughtless gratification habits was nothing more than "Malthusian fear mongering." How very dramatic, but what else do you expect from people who were apparently so tired of hearing "how greedy, lazy, and destructive we all are"… back in 2008?
Others have called WALL-E a Marxist attack because, yeah, sure. Gennady Stolyarov II, Editor-in-Chief of The Rational Argumentator (of course), who is totally convinced in all his rationality that we will not survive this year, said of the movie about both human and robot tenacity: "WALL-E is an assault on modern civilization, borne of deep economic and historical ignorance. The film shamefully betrays the efforts of countless heroic individuals who have raised humanity out of the muck of barbarism. Its anti-technological, anti-capitalist message needs to be exposed and countered by all thinking individuals."
Now that sounds like one-percenter speak right there, and also the opinion of someone who clearly didn't finish watching the goddamn movie.
Folks Thought Happy Feet Was Too Political
This is a WB toon, but it's too stupid to gloss over. Happy Feet is the story of a little penguin named Mumble who can't sing but boy, can he dance like a mofo. This incredible skill for a penguin leads to his exile for some strange penguin-y reason, and the little aquatic bird ends up seeing the world of humans (who are like aliens to him, it's adorable), only to return to his home and help bring awareness to the overfishing of the ocean. Quite simple, pretty darn cute.
But as we have now come to learn, "simple" and "cute" can mean different things to different people, and to some, it categorically means "propaganda" and "abomination." Apparently, there are people in this world who get offended by anyone who even looks like they're trying to say something through their art. Like this reviewer and adult person from The Badger Herald demonstrates: "It sucked because the producers got their heads stuck up their asses and tried to change the world instead of making just a nice, simple, funny children's movie. What they did was make Happy Feet blatantly political, even including digitalized shots of the United Nations and political protests in one of the ending montages, and completely tanked a movie that was spiraling downward from the start. I'm all for saving penguins and teaching kids to be environmentally conscious. But keep the message simple and don't scare and/or confuse me with it."
Scare? Confuse? Yeah, we don't get it. What we do know is that people often have no idea what they want to think and even less of a clue how to take their time and figure that out. Getting swept up is simply quicker and easier. Like some Christian folk who managed to convince themselves that the movie was bashing them for their anti-homosexual stance, what with the "congregation" kicking out the little penguin "who liked to dance."
People Were Convinced Aladdin Was Telling Teens To Take Their Clothes Off
Hey, remember around a decade ago when there wasn't yet a massive mountain of content on the internet and writers had a ball bringing you all the exclusive theories found on obscure web forums and rumors overheard in secret chat rooms? Of course, you do. You sometimes wish you still lived there. Those times were filled with articles like "Gross Sex Things Hiding In Disney Movies" and "Is Lady And The Tramp Really Just About Dogs', Uh, Noodles?" and we all went "wow!" and "whaaaa?" and the world was young and innocent and ready to be destroyed by any and all revelations of what our kids shows were really about.
So when someone whispered that Aladdin featured a line telling young kids to get naked, everyone leaned in closer. Many, of course, instantly believed it. The line is supposedly being whispered by the fake prince when he shoos away Raja the tiger on princess Jasmine's balcony:
As you can hear, there's nothing that sounds like "Good teenagers, take off your clothes," which is the rumored line according to parents and people who so obviously wanted to paint Disney bad for reasons that'll soon become apparent, if not already. Slow-motion audio tracks were created to analyze this nefarious claim — tracks that range from sounding like total gibberish to an 'if you want to hear it, you're gonna hear it' explanation. The Associated Press ran an article featuring a soundbite from a parent saying it's "like a toddler introduction to porn." Religious groups heard about it and naturally elected to help spread the claim since it conveniently strengthened their own cause of boycotting Disney following the release of the movie Priest by Miramax, a division of The Walt Disney Company. This movie:
Disney representatives claimed that the original Aladdin script had the whispering line in question as "C'mon… good kitty. Take off and go." You can hear him say "Down kitty," and then it gets all muffled, mostly because we cut to Genie whispering his line to a sentient rug. We honestly don't know what people are hearing here. Maybe if we start a rumor saying the line was actually something like "Good teeth happens when you lick your toes," people would hear that, too.
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Thumbnail: Walt Disney Pictures