14 Beloved Animated Movies Whose Morals Are Questioned by Today’s Ethical Standards

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Animated films have unique themes, especially in fantasy and adventure. However, some movies, especially from the 20th century, which have once been celebrated, have problematic undertones that are highly offensive. They do not align with today’s moral standards and spark debates regarding their ethical stance on issues ranging from gender equality to racial stereotypes.

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Peter Pan

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No one would imagine that our beloved Peter Pan would contain elements of racial caricature, which is reflected in its song “What Makes The Red Man Red?” The movie launched in 1953, has been criticized for its depiction of Native Americans in Neverland, who are marked by their exaggerated features and stereotypical features. The characters drawn reflect the time when J.M. Barrie wrote the novel. Modern society demands a more respectable representation and would not appreciate the caricatures.


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How an animated movie about flappy elephants, mice, and ducks could go wrong is a question that only the producers of the 1941 film Dumbo Can answer. Winning the Academy Award for Best Scoring of a musical picture, Dumbo is criticized for the portrayal of the character Jim Crow. The crow imitates mannerisms and dialects associated with blackface minstrel shows that are racist.


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The movie “Aladdin” is a beautiful story that takes every kid into a magical world accompanied by a friendly Genie. However, the movie has ranked in the top controversial films for several reasons. From lyrics such as “where they cut off your ear if they don’t like your face” to orientalist stereotypes about Arab people, this has caused problems among the Arab – American Anti-Discrimination Committee. The film is criticized for glamorizing and barbarizing the Arab world, which led to the addition of a disclaimer by Disney, acknowledging it as racist.


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“White” washing someone’s struggles while glamorizing the oppressor’s atrocities is not something that people appreciate. The distorted version and portrayal of Native American history in Disney’s Pocahontas has been widely criticized as her story is not one of romance but tragedy. The original Pocahontas was kidnapped and r****. Glossing over the complexities of her life and downplaying the harsh reality is unacceptable today.

Lady and the Tramp

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This movie aged like milk, primarily because of the Siamese cats that would come back to haunt Disney. Released in 1955, this movie has been criticized for its treatment of the Siamese cat song featuring cats Si and Am. They are characterized by exaggerated stereotypical East Asian features coupled with typical slanted eyes, buck teeth, and an Asian accent, contributing to the negative caricature. This musical number has been updated and changed to “What a Shame” with less emphasis on Asian stereotypes.

Censored Eleven

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Censored Eleven, released in the early 1940s, features eleven animated characters from Warner Bros. This film was canceled in 1968 because of its extremely racist content and characterization of cartoons such as “Coal Black and de Sebben Dwarf” and “Tin Pan Alley Cat.” These cartoons showcase African Americans in a derogatory manner using black ministerial tropes.

The Little Mermaid

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Controversies regarding The Little Mermaid have sparked debates globally. Significant issues involve Ariel abandoning her own identity to pursue a prince. This has sparked debate from modern feminists who advocate for Ariel, accusing the movie of objectifying her and putting her in a subservient role.

Beauty and the Beast

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One might not analyze the movie in such a way, but there is no doubt of the misogynistic attitude of the beast and his harmful behavior. The romanticism in the movie is about an abusive relationship where the beast imprisons Beauty and intimidates her. The notion that the movie sets is not that every woman can be a princess and change the man; instead, it is her acceptance of his aggressive behavior. This “Stockholm Syndrome” is looked upon by modern society.


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Ralph Bakshi has a reputation for directing controversial animated films such as “Fritz the Cat” and “Coonskin” which follow its racist path. The movie, launched in 1975, revolves around the tale of organized crime, politics, and violence. It incorporates many racial slurs and graphical depictions of racial caricatures. The idea of confronting racial issues is overlayed by offensive stereotypes promoting harmful racist tropes.


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Wizards, directed by Ralph Bakshi, faced immense backlash for its fascist imagery and its casual handling of themes related to war. The setting of the film is in a post-apocalyptic world where Nazi officers are equipped with magic and technology. The genocide and mass destruction have also been controversial to numerous people, lacking sensitivity and nuance.


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Sometimes, women walk over other women for their gain. The same happens in Cinderella, where she has to face the overbearing presence of her stepmother just to be saved by the prince. She is limited by time and cannot fight for herself, a theme popular in Disney Princess movies. Such a narrative is problematic today, where women are empowered and defy the passive norm.


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What Disney tried to nail here was a blockbuster movie targeting the Chinese audience but stumbled terribly. Mulan was received poorly in China due to the Westernized elements and simplification of Chinese culture. Mushu, the dragon, is drawn like a shrimp, and its association with evil is highly offensive to the Chinese people who respect the mythical dragon. Moreover, Mulan’s makeup reflects the Tang Dynasty, but the story is set in the Northern Wei Dynasty, which adds to the misinterpretation of the movie.


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If there were an award given to ruin Greek mythology and make it a snooze fest, this movie would win multiple accolades. There is everything wrong with Disney’s Hercules; several facts and characters have been altered, raising questions about the ethical standards. There is misinformation about myths, such as Hades being associated with fire when he is associated with death, and the god responsible for the night is Nyx, not Morpheus. Many loosely drawn characters also raise misunderstandings about Greek cultural heritage.


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While the recent movies have killed the legacy of Tarzan, the 1999 animated version comparatively had few complaints. Appearing first in Edgar Rice Burroughs’s novel “Tarzan of the Apes ‘, the character is questioned about their ethnicity and for perpetuating the “white savior” trope. The apes nurture him, and he later defeats the antagonist, Clayton. As such, this narrative perpetuates out-of-date stereotypes about European supremacy while at the same time reinforcing colonialist ideas that indigenous peoples need someone else to save them from themselves.

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