Should Disney edit their older films to adapt to our current culture? Former Disney animator Floyd Norman doesn’t think so and shares why on his personal blog.

"My good friend, Disney Legend, Ward Kimball animated these jazzy crows back in the forties. If you find Walt Disney’s “Dumbo,” racist, that’s your problem." - Floyd Norman

"My good friend, Disney Legend, Ward Kimball animated these jazzy crows back in the forties. If you find Walt Disney’s “Dumbo,” racist, that’s your problem." – Floyd Norman

What’s happening:

  • Last week, a rumor surfaced saying that Disney is reportedly removing a controversial scene from their 1941 animated film Dumbo before it hits Disney+.
  • While Disney has yet to confirm this, fans of the community are already split on whether or not this would be a good decision.  
  • Interestingly enough, this week former Walt Disney Studios animator and Disney Legend Floyd Norman commented on the scene in question on his personal blog.
  • In his blog, Norman doesn’t reference the rumors but rather shares some of insights from a discussion he had years ago with Ward Kimball—also a Disney Legend—about Dumbo and why he thinks Disney should leave things as they are.

Floyd Norman

Floyd Norman

What he’s saying:

  • Norman on Dumbo as a whole: “Of course, it showcases a brand of humor you could never get away today. Drunken clowns, an acid trip of a dream and a host of black crows singing scat. It’s every marvelous thing we can’t do today and we’re all the poorer for it.”
  • Norman on the “When I Seen an Elephant Fly” sequence: “If you remember the story, a group of cool crows nesting in a field decide to have some fun at the elephant’s expense. After Timothy Mouse scolds the feathered group, they soon have a change of heart and decide to encourage the little elephant. The song they sing is pure fun and entertainment and the animation is inspired. It’s the turnaround song for Dumbo and his life will never be the same.”
  • Norman on pulling inspiration from the scene for another film: “If you’ll recall, I did the same thing many years later in another Walt Disney movie called, The Jungle Book….there was no controversy over these singing birds who just happen to sound like another famous musical group from Liverpool.”
  • Norman on entertainment of the times: “I knew Walt Disney and I’m convince [sic] the Old Maestro would not be keen on his animated classics being revised by the PC Police. Walt Disney was not a racist nor were his animators. Walt Disney was an entertainer and his animated motion pictures reflected and emulated the popular show business performers of his day.”
  • Norman on altering history: “The world has changed and the culture has changed. There’s nothing wrong with acknowledging that. However, it is totally wrong to revise history simply because it makes you uncomfortable."
  • Norman on “Jim Crow” as sarcasm: “The reason the head crow is named, ‘Jim,’ is Disney taking a cartoony jab at the oppressive South. Walt Disney’s animated classic is not racist, nor were the people who made the movie.”
  • Norman responding to reader’s comment: “I can't speak for the media rumors, but my discussions were inside the Walt Disney Studios.” 

Good to know:

  • At this year’s Q1 Shareholders meeting, Disney CEO Bob Iger said of Disney+, "At some point fairly soon after launch, it will house the entire Disney motion picture library.”
  • However, the controversial Song of the South will likely not be included. In fact, during a 2011 meeting, Iger said parts of the film “wouldn't necessarily sit right or feel right to a number of people today.”
  • Disney has not confirmed that they’d be editing any of their films before making them available on Disney+.
  • Disney+ will launch on November 12, 2019 and will be available for $6.99 per month or $69.99 per year.