The 10 Most Controversial Disney Animated Movies | Pretty Reel

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Disney has created some of the most memorable animated movies ever to hit the big screen. They created beautiful stories and heartwarming tales with unforgettable and visually pleasing animation. The company is a brand that has undoubtedly marked the childhood of countless fans and will continue to do so for decades. The company’s first animated feature was Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, released in 1937, and their animation studio has been a legend ever since.

That’s not to say Disney hasn’t had its fair share of controversy – especially when it comes to its animated films, and they’ve been criticized repeatedly for a variety of reasons. Disney may have enriched the childhoods of countless children, but it has also troubled countless fans.


Walt Disney Animation Studios just released their latest movie, Strange World, and had a bad break when it came out. The film received the lowest CinemaScore in Disney Animation history with a “B” grade. The film also has a low rating of 64% from the audience score on Rotten Tomatoes. It also had a poor opening weekend, grossing just $12.1 million at the box office and placing second to Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. It remains to be seen whether the fans will return to it with more benevolence. For Disney, it was a rather tame film, and many of its past versions have been the subject of controversy, especially reimagining them years after their release.

Going Red (2022)

The controversy surrounding the Disney Pixar film Turning Red was mostly a case of people overreacting to the film’s allegories. The 2022 film was about a little girl growing into a teenager and experiencing new feelings as she experiences puberty. This plays out as she transforms into a giant red panda.

The Atlantic pointed out that the sexuality controversy is completely irrelevant. However, that hasn’t stopped people from protesting the movie and denying their children to watch it based on their preconceptions. Although the red panda represents puberty, it is not as sexualized as people make it out to be.

Pocahontas (1995)

After a controversial portrayal of Native Americans in Peter Pan (1953), many thought Disney’s 1995 animated film Pocahontas might fix that. However, this eventual attempt to make things right backfired, as many aspects of Pocahontas remain infamous today. As CBR reported, Pocahontas was Disney’s first animated movie based on the story, and the studio played loose with true events.

It also appears the filmmakers declined to consult with the Powhatan Renape Nation for accuracy. As a result, the film received numerous complaints about its inaccuracies regarding Pocahontas and the colonization of America at the time. Pocahontas was definitely a controversial Disney movie, but despite its flaws, it meant well and is still highly regarded to this day.

Lady and the Tramp (1955)

Lady and the Tramp was released in 1955 and was based on Ward Greene’s short story, “Happy Dan, The Cynical Dog.” It was Disney’s fifteenth animated film and the first-ever animated feature film to be shot in CinemaScope. Lady And The Tramp remains a classic in the hearts of many fans, but some aspects of Lady and the Tramp haven’t aged well.

There were several politically incorrect and insensitive elements, namely the infamous Siamese Cat song for which Disney received backlash. Cats are offensive anti-Asian stereotypes, which cannot be ignored. Also considering Pedro the Chihuahua and Boris the Borzoi, the film is full of racial stereotypes. In 2019, Disney tried to right some of those wrongs with its live-action reboot of Lady And The Tramp, which was released straight to Disney+.

Alice in Wonderland (1951)

Alice in Wonderland was Disney’s thirteenth animated film, and it’s the one that has lived on in the hearts of fans for generations. Perhaps the most controversial parts of this movie are the most remembered. From a dodgy caterpillar, to a creepy floating cat, to some downright trippy footage, Alice in Wonderland certainly gained a reputation pretty quickly after its release.

As the BBC pointed out, Alice in Wonderland was an animated Disney film aimed at children, but was in many ways an allegory of drugs. From the caterpillar with the hookah to the magic mushrooms, there were plenty of allusions to drug use in this children’s movie.

Dumbo (1941)

Fantasia, one of Disney’s most talked about films to date, was released in 1940 and, although today praised for its unique and visually stunning style, the film ended up costing Disney a loss at the time. That’s when Dumbo came on the scene. When it was conceived, the film was meant to have a simplistic, easy-to-follow concept that would help recoup the money that Fantasia lost to the company, although it wasn’t without its controversies.

The film contained a scene where Dumbo gets drunk and goes on a psychedelic trip, something the 2019 remake addressed and abandoned. However, the singing crows were even more controversial, which KTLA said paid homage to “racist minstrel shows” with white performers in blackface. Their leader was also called Jim Crow, which may seem like an insensitive reference to the history of racism in America.

Peter Pan (1953)

Disney’s adaptation of the play, Peter Pan, was their fourteenth animated film and their last film to be released by RKO Radio Pictures before setting up their own distribution company. Peter Pan (also known as The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up) has been a controversial story from the start due to its somewhat questionable subject matter.

Not only has Disney’s adaptation been criticized for being dark and disturbing, but the film has also been criticized for its insensitive portrayal of Native Americans. Smithsonian Magazine reported that the film “doubled down on racial stereotypes” regarding Native Americans in Neverland. This included the song “What Made the Red Man Red”.

Aladdin (1992)

Aladdin was the fourth film to be released during the Disney Renaissance era. The film was based on an Arabic folk tale of the same name and received backlash for cultural insensitivity.

The film revolves around a young man looking for a way to become more in life and get the help he needs from a Genie. However, the BBC reported that writer and lecturer Dr. Jack Shaheen took issue with the offensive lyrics towards Arabs in Aladdin and actually changed them in the film’s soundtrack. He said that Aladdin is a reminder that “the heinous Arab stereotype is as ubiquitous as Aladdin’s lamp”.

The Little Mermaid (1989)

A remake of The Little Mermaid, using computer-generated animation and live-action elements, will be released in 2023, but that doesn’t mean the original animated film hasn’t left its mark on young fans. from Disney, and that’s mostly seen as a good thing, because who wouldn’t want to grow up with old Disney classics? Yet there is also a downside to the young mermaid, Ariel’s legacy.

Many fans argued that Ariel was simply too young to be married to Prince Eric. There was also controversy over Ariel giving up who she is just to get the man. However, co-director Ron Clement disagreed with Ariel’s portrayal. Clements told THR, “To me, she was like anyone dreaming of being part of a world very different from their own, however impossible that may seem. »

The Three Caballeros (1944)

Of all of Disney’s oldest animated films, their seventh – The Three Caballeros – is easily considered one of the most forgettable. The film used a mixture of live action and animated sequences and was divided into seven segments, which made it a bit difficult for younger viewers to follow.

However, the somewhat convoluted plot of The Three Caballeros wasn’t what made it controversial, rather it was Disney’s questionable portrayal of Mexican culture. Disney+ even went so far as to respond to the controversy by placing a warning before the film was released on the streaming service. In the disclaimer, the text reads: “This program includes negative portrayals and/or mistreatment of people or cultures. These stereotypes were wrong then and still are today. »

Bambi (1942)

Bambi is controversial for well-known reasons. Bambi’s most memorable (and traumatic) scene was when the young deer’s mother was killed by a hunter, and Disney didn’t shy away from showing this gruesome scene to its young viewers.

The backlash from this move was so notable that it caused Disney to reconsider incorporating these dark scenes into their films. Tor reported that the trauma of Bambi’s mother’s death even caused Walt Disney to delete Trusty’s death from Lady and the Tramp (1955).

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The 10 Most Controversial Disney Animated Movies | Pretty Reel

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