Racist and Problematic Characters Appear in Disney Special

in Movies & TV

disney once upon a studio special

Credit: Disney Studios

Disney’s Once Upon a Studio was nine minutes of pure fan service, and viewers ate it up with a spoon, but did you notice who else was in attendance for the final photo?

Genie in Once Upon a Studio
Credit: Josh Gad Instagram

In honor of the 100th anniversary of the Walt Disney Company, the studio released a short film that brought together hundreds of their animated characters for one grand and glorious tribute. From Oswald the Lucky Rabbit and Mickey Mouse to Asha from the upcoming Wish,  Disney hit us right in the feels with a chrome-plated baseball bat.

Related: Iconic Disney Animation Style Bringing Halloween to Kids

Although it’s undoubtedly true that Walt Disney Animation Studio has gone above and beyond the call of duty in this demonstration of their animated prowess, a few unexpected guests were in attendance for this meeting of the magical minds. Disney might have the main market on classic animation, but not all of their characters have aged well.

Once Upon a Studio and the History of Disney

Logo for Walt Disney Animation
Credit: Walt Disney Animation Studios

Once Upon a Studio is essentially Disney’s big serving of South Park’s Member Berries, once again proving how the company has mastered its audience through nostalgia. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but some creative choices in last weekend’s short film might have some raising an eyebrow.

Related: Op-Ed: Disney Animation Remains Untouched by Disney+ Purge

While we are all very impressed that Disney was able to go through their payroll and contact everyone they could to reprise multiple famous characters for the ultimate animated get-together, many animation buffs (like this writer) noticed a few unexpected guests at the party.

Mickey Mouse in front of Cinderella Castle with "Cancelled" overlay
Credit: Inside the Magic

There’s no easy way to put it, but we live in an age where cancel culture is indeed a thing, and Disney has fallen prone to the phenomenon more times than any of us care to admit. In spite of that, some of their problematic characters pulled themselves from the Disney vault to make one more appearance.

Related: Disney Animation Plans to Lose Millions

What do Pocahontas, the cast of The Black Cauldron, Jose Carioca, and Chernobog and the barely-clad centaurs and centaurettes from Fantasia have in common? They’ve all been dubbed “problematic” for one reason or another, and they can all be seen in the film’s grand finale.

Pocahontas looks into the distance in front of a blue-green sky.
Credit: Walt Disney Animation Studios

Some of the characters listed are outdated depictions, others had designs that had to be edited years after their film’s premiere, and some almost caused the death of Disney Animation as we know it. Yet here they all are.

Related: Disney Animation Remakes Mickey and Pooh, Fans Shocked

At first glance, it might not seem like such a big deal including these characters in the massive onslaught of nostalgia. However, the fact that Disney fully acknowledges their role in the studio’s evolution is a major statement.

Bambi exploring the woods with friends
Credit: Disney

There’s no way something like Pocahontas or even Fantasia would be made today without some form of backlash from certain audiences. Even the likes of Bambi have been nailed to the wall in recent weeks, so why bring these characters out of storage?

The answer is that history is rarely pretty. Disney might be the biggest name in the animation industry, but that doesn’t mean everything under the brand was a winner. By acknowledging past shortcomings, the studio reminds viewers just how far they’ve come since Walt’s day.

Related: ‘Wish’ on Track to Save Disney Animation

Once Upon a Studio is a love letter to classic Disney animation and everything that comes with it. Although the medium has certainly evolved and changed with the introduction of new techniques, the presence of the studio’s trademarked magic has never left.

Did your favorite character appear in the special? Let Inside the Magic know in the comments down below!

in Movies & TV

View Comment (1)