Disney has been around for a long time, and with most other companies that often means a lot of skeletons are in the closet. The House of Mouse is no exception, boasting some very problematic scenes in its back catalogue.
Whether it’s the questionable racial overtones on display in Aristocats and Dumbo, the arguably slave-like character in Fantasia or just the existence of Song of the South in general, it could be argued that, on the surface, they don’t appear to be the most progressive company. However, in recent years, they’ve taken steps to address this.
Disney movies, while they make a good deal of money off the nostalgia of adults, are first and foremost for children. Children of all colours, cultures and orientation watch, and they deserve to see themselves on the screen.
Cynically you could argue it’s just so they make more money, but then... so what? They’re Disney, making money is what they do. At least this way they’re profiting off positive inclusivity.
There’s often complaints that certain media is becoming too inclusive - as if there’s any such thing anyway - but that’s not really an accusation which could or should be levelled at Disney. They should be making movies that are accessible to everyone, and it’s great to see them making serious steps towards this.
10. Gay Couples In Frozen & Finding Dory
Both Frozen and Finding Dory feature gay couples, but they’re both rather blink and you’ll miss it. Still, when added with the rest of the examples here, it paints a positive picture of Disney’s trajectory.
In Frozen, the ‘yoohoo, big summer blowout’ merchant points to the sauna, and waves to his family. This is clearly made up of another dad and a lot of kids, though the scene largely went unnoticed.
In Finding Dory, it’s less obvious, with star (and massively influential lesbian) Ellen DeGeneres stating on the red carpet that she doesn’t believe the couple are actually lesbians. The scene shows two women in the park who seem to be linking arms, but again, nothing much is made of it.
On their own, these moments don’t mean much. The Frozen one especially is a great example of Disney becoming more relaxed about representation too.
Honourable mention here should go to the live action LeFou in Beauty & The Beast. Ostensibly Disney’s first major gay character, the movie seems to shy away from it despite it taking up a decent chunk of the marketing. It’s a very nudge nudge wink wink portrayal, barely any more concrete than the original animated version.