Saturday, July 31, 2010

Disney Strikes Again

I can't stand when Disney messes with their movies. I hate when they cut things for fear of "offending" people. Movies from the Walt era exist that have never been released on home video in their complete original form. Many for no good reason. While I can understand some of the arguments (removing Sunflower the black centaurette from Fantasia), it's hypocrisy because they still keep Peter Pan in print despite its depiction of the Indians. But lyrics from Pocahontas had to be changed? Come on.

There was that period in the late '90s when the cool thing was for people to pull out their videos and hunt for subversive messages in the movies and then yell at Disney for them. Part of it too I think was born out of the Disney boycott phase led by the Southern Baptists and supported by many Evangelical Christians (I was most definitely not one of them). In those days, people would says "Aladdin tells Jasmine to take off her clothes!" These things become pervasive urban legends that just won't die. No matter how much evidence you present, people believe it in the same way they believe that "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds" is about LSD, or "Puff the Magic Dragon" is about drugs. One of these tales was that the officiating minister at Eric's wedding in The Little Mermaid has an erection at one point. There is animation of knobby thing below his waist moving. But I never bought it as that because it frankly doesn't MOVE like one. And it's one teeny shot. A following shot more clearly reveals it to be his knee, and it seems to move around because the priest is moving around. That's just good animation; following the body's actions through. But a bunch of dirty-minded losers with a slow-motion button decided to give Disney a hard time.

What bothers me about it is that I just got through watching the film again and on the recent Platinum Edition 2-disc DVD, they've changed it. The Disney people went into that shot, took out the knee animation, and just gave him a straight leg. The problem is, it looks weird now that he's moving around and his leg is stiff and straight (with no knee at all, though later he has one). This was done without any fanfare. Disney just put the movie out and pretended it was the same movie it always was. But it's NOT. It's a bowdlerized version that corrects something which WASN'T EVEN AN OFFENSE. It's one thing to remove a visible cigarette. It's quite another to remove a guy's knee because some pervert thinks it looks like a penis. I don't know what the original limited edition 1-disc DVD of the movie had on it. But I am so annoyed at continuing to buy Disney films on disc only to find them altered. This is a prime reason to keep the VHS copies, despite their lower quality and fullscreen image.

The great French Film director Carl Th. Dreyer famously said "An old film 'classic' is a museum piece which should be preserved in its original form. In my opinion, to 'modernize' such a film is an absurdity." I couldn't have said it better myself.


  1. yup. i'm getting so sick of lyric changes in disney movies. they're so afraid of offending people that they're weakening good movies. i hate the aladdin lyric change a lot... he can't say people will cut off your ear, but they try to cut off jasmine's hand later and no one cares. also, they can make fun of white people as much as they want, and no one seems to be in a rush to change that.... hypocrites. stop picking on disney already.

  2. That's great writing!

    I guess we're left to follow Disney's c * .