The dark side of Disney songs

The dark side of Disney songs

A thousand times, I thoughtlessly whistled a little “It doesn’t take much to be happy,” or a big “liberated, liberated” howled to death. It’s been 100 years now that Disney songs have managed, with each new movie, to permanently cement themselves in us, to the point of being erected into unbreakable monuments.

It can’t be stopped, really? A BBC journalist went to check it out more closely. Because behind every song, there is a unique writing, singers, and historical context. At the time of the film’s reruns, A.S the little Mermaid Released in May 2023, the new directors do not hesitate to re-adapt the songs keeping social developments in mind.

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BBC lifts the veil Over dozens of songs, of which here is a selection.

A century of prejudice in song

Released in 1947, Snow white It is the first feature-length animated film in history. He creates an archetype of the Disney princess, whose fate is well summed up in the famous song “Someday my prince will come.” If the song shuts down audience engagement in the 1940s, it also locks its singer, Adriana Caselotti, into the role: it already seems Disney has banned it from playing elsewhere. A small consolation: Snow White was crowned a “Disney Legend” in 1994, at the age of 77.

Meanwhile, the song has evolved. Jazz took over and was taken up in different contexts of the century. During World War II, it was notably performed in the Theresienstadt concentration camp, by a group known as the “Ghetto Swingers”. It was later covered by jazz legends, including Miles Davis, after whose 1961 album it was named.

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Until the 1990s, racial stereotypes were a major component of comedy. Disney had no shortage of them: both in beauty and the beastwhich demonizes the deception of two Siamese cats, or V.I aristocrats Who, in the cult jazz scene, makes a Siamese cat play the piano with chopsticks …

so when Aladdin Released in 1992, the Orientalist fantasy expressed in the song “Arabian Night” sparked protests from anti-discrimination groups. “The song defames an entire people”Written by Professor Jack J. Shaheen in the Los Angeles Times. After the movie was released, Disney changed two lines: “Where did they cut off your ear / If they don’t like your face”. On the other hand, the dubious downfall remains: “It’s messy, but it’s our home.”

Disney song themes have also undergone an evolution. The song “I’d Like a Snowman”, for example, was considered too dark for her snow Queen. Indeed, the importance of songs and narratives made it possible to approach the issue of mourning and family problems delicately. “Each generation discovers new aspects of the human experience.”, writer Kristen Anderson-Lopez confided. For her, who studied psychology and drama, these powerful songs stem from the teachings of post-’90s psychology.

Aware of their worldwide distribution, Disney now knows how to translate, but also adapt each of their hit songs to different cultures, while keeping an eye on the evolution of mindsets. The title, “Let’s Not Talk About Bruno”, is the main title of the feature film encantofor example, has been translated into twenty-one languages, and offers separate dubbing for Brazilian and European Portuguese.

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About the Author: Aldina Antunes

"Praticante de tv incurável. Estudioso da cultura pop. Pioneiro de viagens dedicado. Viciado em álcool. Jogador."

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