(Note: this was originally on my tax blog CreativelyAccounting.com, but I moved it over here, since it is not tax related)

When we were at the library the other day, I saw the Disney Peter Pan movie available for checkout. Remembering how much I liked the movie when I was a kid, I decided to give it a chance before purchasing it from that super-secret Disney Vault. What I didn’t recall from my childhood was the Peter Pan racism in the movie.

At home, my daughter was hesitant about the new movie, but got into it within a few minutes. My son was aloof, as usual when sampling new cinematic wares, but I’m constantly trying to break him from his current favorite: Clifford’s Puppy Days.

Suzanne Collins was the head writer of Clifford. I'm guessing it was all that red that inspired her more popular series.
Suzanne Collins was the head writer of Clifford. I’m guessing it was all that red that inspired her most popular series.

We were all enjoying Disney Peter Pan, despite the scantily clad Tinkerbell fretting about her near anorexic weight, or the pirates ‘playfully’ threatening the life of Mr. Smee, or the Mermaids wearing so little even Ariel would blush. I mean, none of that is worse than having them watch Walking Dead with us, right?

It wasn’t until John Darling (that’s the older boy, for those who don’t remember) takes the Lost Boys on a hunt for ‘Indians’ that I nearly turned it off. He marches forward, offering this choice line:
“Remember, men, Indians might be clever, but they’re not intelligent.”

Holy crap, Disney. I know it was the fifties, but was that really an okay thing to teach children back then?

Disney Peter Pan then proceeds to the racism we all remember, with “What Makes the Red Man Red.” I mean, did the children in the fifties really need to be taught why these ‘savages’  and ‘injuns’ didn’t have the ‘right’ skin color ? That, combined with drawing their warriors like they’re mindless hulks, and their Chief speaking in with his broken ‘How,’ despite all the rest of the tribe talking in accentuated English.

I dunno. It seems a little too much.

I’m not trying to judge the creators, since they were products of their time just like we are of ours. But should I be showing Disney Peter Pan to my kids? I’m not concerned that they’ll follow the example of Tinkerbell or the Mermaids or the Pirates. But I can see my son or daughter repeating John Darling’s painfully racist line, probably after finding out someone is from India (a special thanks to Christopher Columbus for getting that one wrong).

Oh, if only they hadn’t liked the movie. As soon as it ended, my daughter wanted to play it again. And when we took it back to the library, she was inconsolable until I told her we could check it out again at some indeterminate point in the future.

This was actually her crying over "her" refrigerator being replaced, but it was about the same.
This was actually her crying over “her” refrigerator being replaced, but it was about the same.

Maybe I’m making too much of the Disney Peter Pan racism. Maybe it won’t be remembered as anything other than a show with some catchy tunes (that’s how I remember it). 

So what has everyone else done with their kids? Are they allowing Disney Peter Pan to work as the digital babysitter from time to time? Or has it been banished to Neverland?

*We don’t really allow our kids to watch Walking Dead. We’re starting them on Breaking Bad and seeing where it goes from there.

Picture by Mike Mozart