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Op-Ed: Disney Is Woke and It Should Stay That Way

Disney Should Stay Woke
All Images Credit Disney

Disclaimer: The words and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author only. They do not reflect the overall opinion of DisneyDining.com or The Walt Disney Company.

For years, Disney’s animated movies really focused on two types of characters – animals and heterosexual white people. With the exception of The Jungle Book (1967), nearly every Disney movie that did not have animal characters had white people as the main characters. A non-white Disney princess didn’t even exist until 1992, when Disney released the animated film, Aladdin.

Princess Jasmine in Disney's 'Aladdin' and her father the Sultan

Credit: Disney

It wasn’t until 2009 that Disney created its first black princess – Tiana from The Princess and the Frog. And, over the past decade or so, it is finally being acknowledged that a lot of Disney’s earlier films were racially insensitive. As many subscribers know, a lot of Disney’s early animated films, like Peter Pan (1953), now come with a warning on Disney+. The warning lets them know that there are racially insensitive aspects to the film, but that Disney wants to acknowledge the problem, instead of erasing it.

Peter Pan

Credit: Disney

Related: Racist Disney Fans Bombard Movie Review Site, Cause a SITE Shut Down

In recent years, Disney has worked very hard to create movies and television shows featuring more diverse characters and non-traditional families. However, this effort has sparked a firestorm of debate, with more conservative viewers calling Disney “woke” and demanding the company revert to its more “traditional” storylines.

Baymax Series

Credit: Disney

Well, those people aren’t necessarily wrong. Disney is “woke”, but that’s a good thing. And Disney should stay that way.

First, let’s define the term “woke”. A person who is “woke” is defined as a person who is “aware of and actively attentive to” the social and racial injustices that exist in our world.

Now, let’s bring that over to Disney.

Disney pride rainbow balloons pride month june

Credit: Disney

Related: Disney Might Be “Woke”, But It’s Not Going Broke

Disney is a global company, and they need to make content that reflects the world that we live in. There are more than 8 billion people in the world, and they are not all straight and white. Why shouldn’t they be allowed to see themselves in Disney movies and television shows? Why shouldn’t same-sex couples get to see characters like them, in loving relationships and raising families? It is the world we live in, and it’s a good thing that we have content that reflects that.

Lightyear movie

Credit: Disney/Pixar

In Disney’s 1937 classic, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Snow White is only about 14 years old. Yet, a lot of people don’t see the problem with an adult man kissing and marrying a young girl. Is that the “traditional” type of Disney film we want to return to? Where the woman – and sometimes young girl – has no role of her own? She simply exists so she can find a man and get married?

Think about it. What real storylines do Princesses like Aurora, Cinderella, and Snow White have? What are their dreams? We don’t really know, because who they truly are and what their goals are didn’t really matter.

snow white and prince florian first meeting

Credit: Disney

In today’s society, people – regardless of race, gender, or sexual orientation – can be anything they want to be. They can dream big, and they don’t have to limit themselves. So, why shouldn’t Disney make movies about all different kinds of people having different kinds of dreams and goals? There isn’t an “agenda”, there is simply diversity and inclusion.

Disney movies are still chock-full of straight, white people. Those characters are not being erased. They are simply being integrated with characters who come from different backgrounds and have beliefs that might be different from theirs. Disney is no longer catering to one type of viewer because the world is not made up of one type of viewer.

Snow White remake update

Credit: Disney

Related: Inclusion, Diversity, Storytelling: Disney’s ‘Reimagine Tomorrow’ Launches New Site

And we can’t forget about Disney parks. In 2023, Disney added “inclusion” to its set of training standards. Disney now allows its cast members to be more open by showcasing their tattoos, allowing more types of hairstyles and piercings, and letting them wear the costume that they feel the most comfortable in, regardless of their gender.

Disney cast member

Credit: @kourtnifaber TikTok

Everyone wants to feel loved and accepted in their workplace and by society. So, why is it a bad thing that Disney is supporting its cast members and telling them that they are accepted for who they are?

When people feel accepted and loved, they are happier people. And happier cast members will spread that happiness to the guests. More magic will be created, and more core memories will be made for guests of all ages.

Disney cast member costumes

Credit: Disney

In a world where you can be anything, be kind. And it is not kind to demand that Disney remove certain types of characters because you might personally not believe in them. Letting children see all different kinds of people on screen will not harm them. It will simply make them learn to understand that not everyone is like them, and that is a great thing.

The world does not cater to your specific belief system, and neither should Disney.

Disclaimer: The words and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author only. They do not reflect the overall opinion of DisneyDining.com or The Walt Disney Company.

About Krysten Swensen

A born and bred New England girl living the Disney life in Southern California. I love to read, to watch The Golden Girls, and love everything to do with Disney and Universal. I also love to share daily doses of Disney on my Disney Instagram @BrazzleDazzleDisney!

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