From the Advent of Multiculturalism to the Elision of Race: The Representation of Race Relations in Disney Animated Features (1995-2009)

  • Eve Benhamou University of Warwick

Abstract

As one of the most powerful purveyors of entertainment in the world, the Disney company has produced blockbuster films, including animated features that have enjoyed enduring popularity. Reflecting and shaping to some extent American popular culture and ideology, they have left vivid images in our memory. Arguably, one of Disney’s most ubiquitous symbol is the beautiful white princess. The representation of race relations in Disney films has always been problematic, sometimes sparking heated debates: non-white characters were either absent or stereotypically portrayed. Nonetheless, in parallel with the advent of multiculturalism in the 1990s, a series of films have foregrounded a new approach on these portrayals, the most notable being Pocahontas (1995), Atlantis (2001), and The Princess and the Frog (2009). In this article, I will examine the evolution of the representation of race, focusing on the film texts and their historical and cultural context, production history, and critical reception. I will argue that the apparent messages of tolerance and promotion of multiculturalism were accompanied and slowly replaced by a colour-blind erasure of race.

Author Biography

Eve Benhamou, University of Warwick
I am an MA student in History and Film, and I am about to start a PhD in Film Sutdies at the University of Bristol.

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Published
2014-08-27
How to Cite
BENHAMOU, Eve. From the Advent of Multiculturalism to the Elision of Race: The Representation of Race Relations in Disney Animated Features (1995-2009). Exchanges: the Warwick Research Journal, [S.l.], v. 2, n. 1, p. 153-167, aug. 2014. ISSN 2053-9665. Available at: <http://exchanges.warwick.ac.uk/article/view/106>. Date accessed: 21 nov. 2017.
Section
Critical Reflections

Keywords

Disney; Race; Multiculturalism; Pocahontas; Atlantis: The Lost Empire; The Princess and the Frog