Disney’s Copy Paste

By Shamus Posted Saturday Mar 27, 2010

Filed under: Movies 131 comments

Link (YouTube)

I never noticed that.

I will note that most of those movies are from “early” Disney, before it became Mega-Disney. You don’t see any of their work from the last two decades in there. Most of it looks like stuff from the 50’s and 60’s. Still, it is amazing that they re-used so many sequences of movements. Makes me wonder what techniques they used to generate the sequences that made this an attractive option.

And then at 1:13 when they recycled the same terrible racist stereotype. Arg. I’ll bet they wish they could take that one back.

EDIT: People are questioning the stereotype charge. See, I have it in my head that the guy playing the drums is an Asian stereotype: Squinty eyes, buck teeth, and I swear I have this memory of him talking in an exaggerated Chinese accent. Maybe having some sort of “Confucius say” shtick?

But it's a childhood memory. So many people are questioning the stereotype that I'm now doubting myself. Maybe I'm confusing it with another character.


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131 thoughts on “Disney’s Copy Paste

  1. Fox says:

    Wow…that is amazing. I wonder who even discovered that anyway.

    1. Torben Putkonn says:

      Disney did. They admit this explicitely on one of their newer DVD extras stating that “recycling the best scenes was just a way to cut animation costs.”

      1. Draconis Ravenus says:

        On the Jungle Book dvd commentary, the kid who voiced Mowgli and one of the original animators go into fairly explicit detail about how the wolf cubs were taken from the 101 Dalmatians. He didn’t sound embarrassed or ashamed by it, and I don’t know why he would be.

        I don’t see this as a badge of shame or mark of the downfall of the studio. There’s still artwork being drawn up; it’s not like they’re stealing frames and reusing them verbatim. It’s rotoscoping, only they’re using animation as the template instead of real life footage.

        And anyone who says Disney started going to hell after Robin Hood is smokin’ something. The Fox & the Hound, Oliver & Company… these were great films, not to mention the homerun hits of the 90’s.

        1. Neil Polenske says:

          Hell, I enjoyed The Great Mouse Detective a lot more than I ever did The Lion King or Beauty and the Beast.

          And yeah, the recycled animation was REALLY rampant in the ‘xerox’ age of Disney. I can’t remember another studio that was as blatant as it was. I’m sure Warner had its moments, but I can’t recall. To be fair, they never did feature length.

  2. Daemian Lucifer says:

    You meant to say those movies are from the good disney,before it became crappy disney.

    Indeed,animating by hand was lot of work,so shortcuts are to be expected.

    1. Henebry says:

      Actually, a lot of the copied stuff is in the Robin Hood movie, which is generally thought to date from the era of Disney’s first great decline in the 70s.

      As for why, animation is a complex machine: a sequence of still frames that when played back at 30 fps tricks the eye into accepting it as people and objects in a complex dance. If you copy the work of a prior animator frame-by-frame, you know what the result will look like.

      But the folks at Disney may have actively encouraged this practice, as a way of maintaining the Disney “look”, that house style that dominated Disney animation from Snow White in the 30s up through the mid seventies.

      1. SnowballinHell says:

        If my memory serves you are right about the Robin Hood being the start of the Disney “Decline” (if you could call it such)
        The studio was expected to churn out features at a fairly rapid pace
        What resulted was some fair-good films from a lot of overworked animators
        There was one particular animator (his name escapes me at the moment) that had such a gift for rhythm that he was put in charge of all the dances (dancing being one of the hardest things to animate), so most likely they just reused his sequences
        It could be rotoscoped, but the beats are all too similar…they probably just reused the sequences

        P.S. – we are watching these at 30 fps, but they were originally filmed at 24…but with video you get a few smear frames (just thought I’d mention)

        1. Scott says:

          Film runs at 24 FPS, yes, but the stills were most commonly shot ‘on twos’ where one still is photographed twice, meaning that the animations are actually only moving at 12 FPS.

        2. Falling says:

          Maybe Robin Hood was the beginning of the Disney Decline (which had it’s logical conclusion in the direct-to-video sequel years.) However, Robin Hood will always remain my all time favourite Disney movie, if not favourite movie in general. That was my childhood film and even knowing they borrowed material from prior films doesn’t ruin my nostalgia.

          1. SnowballinHell says:

            Robin Hood holds on my list as having the most interesting Disney villain…Prince John
            The fact he behaves so childish (crying for his “mummy”) and yet can be devious and brutal (screaming “KILL HIM, KILL HIM !”)…gives me chills
            He is very funny and scary at the same time
            (I also love the chicken lady)

            Though my personal favorite Disney villain is Professor Ratigan from Great Mouse Detective (gotta love a rat that thinks he’s a mouse…and being Vincent Prince doesn’t hurt)

            1. Falling says:

              Great Mouse Detective is an excellent film. And Ratigan is voiced by Vincent Price??? I did not know that. Know wonder the rat is such an epic villain.

      2. Octal says:

        If you copy the work of a prior animator frame-by-frame, you know what the result will look like.

        Oh, that makes sense. I was wondering how it would save them work when they have to redraw everything anyway.

        1. ehlijen says:

          Creating a new image from scratch is a lot more time and effor than tracing off the outlines and changing the details. It’s still work, but less.

  3. Raygereio says:

    Huh, for some reason (with no knowledge of the exact techniques used) I would not have expected so much copy-pasting of the movements with hand drawn movies.

    And perhaps it’s me being stupid (or perhaps different European values), but what’s the racial stereotype at 1:13 that’s so terrible?

  4. Chiller says:

    I can’t for the life of me figure out what racist stereotype that is (probably I’m simply not aware of it).

  5. Joshua says:

    iirc, Robin Hood is notorious for swiping from the earlier movies.

  6. Roy says:

    Okay, I have to know what racist stereotype you’re talking about–at 1:13 all I’m seeing is a scene from Snow White with them dancing. Is dancing dwarfs a stereotype I’m unaware of?

    I also have to say, it covers a pretty broad range of dates:
    Snow White: 1937
    Cinderella: 1950
    Jungle Book: 1967
    The Aristocats: 1970
    Robin Hood: 1973
    The Great Mouse Detective: 1986
    Beauty and the Beast: 1991

    I’m sure I missed some, but that basically covers the bulk of Disney’s traditional animation years, although Beauty and the Beast was the second Disney animated feature to feature heavy use of computers in the animation process. That’s a big span of time.

    1. Avilan the Grey says:

      That is not the Great Mouse Detective. In fact I can’t recall what movie that is from, but it is not that one.

      1. Heron says:

        Wasn’t there a clip from 101 Dalmatians in there somewhere?

        1. MintSkittle says:

          There was, at the very end. I believe the film opposite it is The Sword in the Stone, but I’m not sure.

  7. mark says:

    I’m not getting any racism from that bit either…. :-/

  8. Grant says:

    I’m also really curious what the racist stereotype is. Accordions? Cats drumming with their eyes closed?

  9. Shamus says:

    I have it in my head that the guy playing the drums is an Asian stereotype: Squinty eyes, buck teeth, and I swear I have this memory of him talking in an exaggerated Chinese accent. Maybe having some sort of “Confucius say” shtick?

    But it’s a childhood memory. So many people are questioning the stereotype that I’m now doubting myself. Maybe I’m confusing it with another character.

    1. Mike Riddle says:

      You may be thinking of the Siamese cat in Astricats.

      1. Mechman says:

        The siamese cats were also repeated in lady and the tramp. They even got an entire musical number based around their chinese accents.
        Buck teeth, slanted eyes, poor engrish, diabolical plotting? Check.

    2. Raygereio says:

      @Mike Riddle: The Siamese cat is one the drummers.
      @Shamus: Yeah, I can see the drumming animal being a cartoony stereotypical depiction of an ‘asian’. But that’s all it is for me, cartoony, not racist.

      I guess it’s something similar to how some people were complaing about Star Wars Episode 1 how George Lucas was being racist to black and asian people with the Gungans and the Neimoidians respectively, which left me scratching my head in bewilderment.

      Different values and stuff, I guess. Regardless, even if you find the stereotype used offensive, I kind of doubt it was intended to be racist. It’s more likely using a stereotype as a character was easier then creating an actual character, especially for a movie meant for little kids.

      1. anna says:

        “I kind of doubt it was intended to be racist… using a stereotype as a character was easier… especially for a movie meant for little kids.”

        Reinforcing stereotypes in movies meant for children is pretty much the best example of why intent doesn’t matter at all. The vast majority of racist memes embedded in our society propagate without any racist intent. That’s what makes deeply enculturated racism so difficult to get rid of.

    3. How interesting…

      When I saw that, I thought of a black person breaking down the funk on some drums. I never saw the movie, but it’s interesting how the “sterotype” changes when you only have a few seconds to view it.

    4. Dev Null says:

      Well the interesting thing to come out of this could well be that its a different racial stereotype than you think; the buck teeth could just come from the fact that he was copy-pasted from a rabbit (though obviously this wouldn’t account for any accent.) Those rabbitist bastards!

    5. Daemian Lucifer says:

      He did one impression of a japanese guy in that song,I think,when he put the drum piece on his head as a straw hat,and had the buck teeth.

    6. Felblood says:

      I don’t really see the Asian aspects of this character as all that racist, especially compared to certain other, old cartoons that have been mostly expunged.

      Chopsticks, the drum playing cat here, does have buck teeth, play chopsticks in an Asian scale and wear a cymbal on his head in parody of an oriental straw hat. However, all of those things just seem to be window dressing, designed to attract attention to the fact that he actually looks kind of like an Asian street musician.

      In fact, the only character to make a joke about Asians is himself, with the goofy hat(Wasn’t somebody else already wearing a lampshade at this point?) and the bad Confucius impersonation. In context, it seems to me more like a way to underscore the fact that he’s actually subverting a lot of stereotypes, in his role as a lazy, hard-partying jazz cat.

      Making an Asian cartoon character that is recognizably Asian, is actually quite an acomplishment. Having looked through some volumes of Cantonese comics (They belonged to a room-mate from Hong-Kong.) I can say that many Chinese comic book characters could be construed as horribly racist, if a white person had drawn them. Just look at any cartoon that depicts Confucius, if you don’t believe me.

      Edit: Found a picture of an English version of that comic. “The Analects of Confucius,” apparently. At least on the cover, the huge wrinkles under his eyes are gone.

      Is it weird that I’m ready to believe that we are editing Chinese made comics to avoid accusations of racism?

      Edit: It turns out that the little guy with the buck teeth and the bulbous nose is actually a fairly accurate character of the illustrator. Symbolizes humility and stuff.

      Still comes off really wrong, if you look at that book and can’t read it because it’s in Cantonese.

    7. Neil Polenske says:

      The racial stereotype for the cat is spot on classic Disney racism. Which isn’t ‘Disney’ racism at all, but just something they get tagged for cause of their need to keep the ‘family friendly’ image and a cynical culture makes them an easy punching bag.

      What confused me was your phrase “recycled the same terrible racist stereotype”.

      They didn’t.

      They recycled animation is of a character drumming enthusiastically. They kept the buck teeth cause it’s a rabbit playing the drums, and they kept the eyes closed cause that tends to happen when you get really enthusiastic about a physical activity. It’s an animation of a dude drumming, which isn’t racist. It’s not even outdated caricature. It’s just a dude drumming.

      But I DO remember the Aristocats and yeah, outdated stereotypes is ALL up ins dat movie! That one bit of animation is probably the only time that cat is NOT in the middle of some offensively outdated performance.

      1. Ace Calhoon says:

        “But I DO remember the Aristocats and yeah, outdated stereotypes is ALL up ins dat movie!”

        I hate to be “that guy” in this thread… But how do the Siamese cats in Aristocats differ from, say, every portrayal ever of a viking as a beefy meathead with a propensity for beards and beer? Or french guys as smooth-talking ladies men who will hump anything that moves? Or Brits as the straight-laced stoic type with long faces?

        At what point do they cross over from cartoonish to racist?

  10. Krakow Sam says:

    You’re right Shamus. I have a clear memory of the Siamese cat in that movie having a horribly stereotypical mock-Chinese accent (ah-so ah-so etc). Definitely racist by today’s standards, but I personally wouldn’t be calling for some tasteless ‘revision’ along the lines of Greedo Shot First where the Siamese gets redubbed or just airbrushed out of existence.

  11. WWWebb says:

    Speaking of stereotypes…everyone knows that white people can’t dance and who do you think was drawing this stuff? Once you figure out a good move, you just keep using it until people point and laugh.

  12. IronCastKnight says:

    I suspect the foul hand of rotoscoping, along with the dastardly fingers of uncreativity, to be at work in this video. If you have some stock footage of people dancing and various slapstick comedy gags, why not reuse them whenever possible? It’s not like the average Disney viewer is going to notice, or care.

  13. Marauder says:

    When I saw “Disney Copy & Paste” I thought is was more along the lines of their EXTERNAL copying and copyright infringement such as Kimba the white Lion -> Lion King…


    I guess it’s not surprising they’d do it to their own stuff as well…

  14. HarveyNick says:

    Disney used live footage and traced it to get peoples movement right, basically an early form of motion capture. Snow White, I think, is famous for being one of the first films to try this. They probably just used the same footage again, given that it worked so well the first time.

    Also, you guys don’t see the irony in calling racism here, and then complaining about the Siamese cat’s thick Chinese accent? You know that Siam is what we now call Thailand, and that is a different country to China, right?

    1. The Guardian says:

      Yes pretty close, it’s shown in detail in one of the bonus features with Sleeping Beauty. They filmed real people doing quite a number of scenes and the animators used them as references.

      Sleeping Beauty was mentioned as the first film ever to do this.

      1. According to the Wikipedia, Cinderella relied more on live actors than any of Disney’s earlier films, but it definitely wasn’t the first of Disney’s films to use live models. (Maybe it was the first to use live models for large scenes?) Marge Champion was, famously, the “body model” for Snow White’s dancing in that film; she also did at least some of the modeling for Dopey. So all of the sequences which copy Snow White are actually copying Marge Champion.

  15. Merle says:

    I…never realized the Siamese cats in “Lady and the Tramp” have buck teeth.
    You just killed my childhood, I think.

  16. Haseri says:

    The Chinese cat is from Aristocats (my sister watched it constantly when she was younger), one of Tom’s friends. And yes, it was a terrible Chinese stereotype, worse that others in that group, which gnerally only had accents.

    The Rabbit afterwards is from Robin Hood.

    I think I remember seeing that Disney copied and pasted their stuff because it was cheap, and they didn’t have the money. As said before, animation is expensive.

  17. Factoid says:

    I’m coming up blank on a link, but I’ve seen the original video that DIsney Rotoscoped over top of.

    They literally filmed a dance sequence with a woman and some children and painted over the top of it to create the animation frames.

    They used the same film sequence to create dancing for several movies. I’ll post the link if I can find it. It’s fascinating viewing.

  18. Matt K says:

    All I have to say is that I still find it surprising that Snow White is from 1930s. That animation looks really good. And the dance scene from Cinderella (1950) is pretty spectacular as well, especially with the changing of color in her dress.

    1. acronix says:

      What´s really amazing is that the best cartoon nowadays is Spongebob.

      Alarming, isn´t it?

      1. Merle says:

        Excuse me?
        In what way, shape or form is Spongebob the best cartoon?

      2. Volatar says:

        I happen to hate Spongebob thankyouverymuch.

      3. ehlijen says:

        That statement is both confusing and unsupported.

        By what measurement is it the best? And why is that relevant to the above post?

      4. asterismW says:

        I think what acronix was trying to say is that out of all the terrible cartoons there are these days, Spongebob, though awful, is the best. Sort of the cream of the crap.

        This is why I was so excited for Princess and the Frog. Say what you will about the actual story, but the return to hand-drawn (and GOOD) animation thrilled my little heartstrings.

      5. acronix says:

        I was being sarcastic, but I see I failed miserably.

        To clarify: I tought that I was implying (via the “Alarming, isn´t it?” that the best cartoon nowadays is a big mountain of crap, and thus every other cartoon is even crappier.

  19. ngthagg says:

    The movie that someone misidentified as The Great Mouse Detective is actually The Wind in the Willows.

    1. MissusJ says:

      Ok, I first got on here to say that you were wrong about The Great Mouse Detective, but I then did my research and found that I was wrong. I bow to your superior recognition. :)

  20. Torsten says:

    Copy and paste method is probably used in these clips because most of the clips are from the Disney film mandatory sing and dance scene. Even way back when I was a kid and watching the films myself, I cannot remember anyone who ever cared for the scenes. They were the points for toilet break and getting new snacks.

  21. (LK) says:

    Well if we want to pillory them for Racism it’s easier just to point to WWII propaganda films.

    Disney and Warner Brothers both did a pretty good job of smearing the Japanese race in a shameless, enthusiastic fashion.

    Made fun of Germans, too, though by and large it was more mocking of authoritarian culture than racial stereotypes.

    Outside of propaganda, there’s also the use of crows in both early Disney and Warner Brothers cartoons. If you see a crow in their cartoons (I’m thinking Dumbo and Loony Toons), it tends to be a black stereotype caricature.

    1. Atarlost says:

      Like Speedy Gonzales I think the crows are a positive portrayal of the group in question. Who wouldn’t want to be stereotyped as loyal and clever?

      You want insulting stereotypes watch 101 Dalmatians or Lady and the Tramp and ask what Disney says about the upper class.

  22. R says:

    All animation studios keep reference libraries, and for Disney that would have included keeping all the filmed reference for rotoscoping, as well as all previous movies.

    Rather than laziness, it was probably reused as a cost-cutting measure.

    Also, before the home video market of the mid-eighties, a movie was released in theatres and then never seen again, so why not reuse the same source material?

    1. Mari says:

      Actually Disney’s animated films were re-released to theaters every 7 years prior to widespread home video. I suspect that many people probably noticed the reuse of animation over a lifetime of seeing the movies every 7 years.

  23. Slothful says:

    It could be that they rotoscoped the original animation, and just reused the same base footage for later ones…but that doesn’t work for some of the clips though…

  24. Vladius says:

    As a kid, I always wondered why all bears looked and talked the same, and why certain similarities existed between The Jungle Book and Robin Hood. I never figured that it was because Disney was just lazy.

  25. (LK) says:

    I find it kind of funny that Disney as an entity is responsible for the old notion in the industry that in order to succeed you need a massive staff of animators with a substantial budget hand-drawing high quality art in order to succeed in the animation business.

    Disney’s deep-pocketed approach to animating films determined what was once thought to be the common sense approach to success in that field, and here you see that even they felt the pain of this approach’s costs and had to cut some corners.

    Now of course everyone knows better, especially with computers to assist the process. Entire films have been animated by a single person on a home computer and gone on to win critical acclaim (Here I’m referring to Voices of A Distant Star, which launched the career of a talented filmmaker, Makoto Shinkai. I highly suggest Shinkai’s other works, too. They’re emotionally moving and visually gorgeous.)

    1. Drexer says:

      I’m sorry but I’m going to have to call you out on that. Even though I love the works of Makoto Shinkai, saying that the fact that they are better than Disney is related to being made by just one person is false. For starters, only Voices of a Distant Star was made by him alone, on his following works he already had a studio backing him up. Of course, that VoaDS was a great movie, but its animation although impressive for just one person, cannot be compared to a studio’s work. The quality however that is parallel from voaDS to The Place Promised in Our Early Days and 5 Centimeter per Second, is the story and its depth to touch pretty much everyone.

      Still, the beginning scenes in 5 Centimeter per Second never cease to amaze anyone in my household.

  26. SatansBestBuddy says:

    As I recall, Disney was having money troubles during Robin Hoods production, and thus took a lot more footage from old movies to reuse than they normally do.

    But it’s not surprising they do, as people have said, animation is expensive, and spending $50,000+ for a couple of seconds of animation vs reusing some old stuff that would work just as well isn’t exactly a hard decision to make, particulary when you’re hard on money, animation is getting more expensive still, and your monopoly on the market is starting to slip, so you either need to put out more movies or go broke.

    Time makes even the most strict prefectionist cut a few corners to put out a finished product.

  27. adude says:

    Isn’t it actually more racist to assume a cartoon animal with squinty eyes is portraying a negative Chinese stereotype? If it wasn’t the animator’s intent, then YOU’RE the one who looked at a facial feature and made a snap judgment.

    1. Maldeus says:

      Dun dun DUN!

    2. Shamus says:

      It wasn’t a “snap judgment”. It was a memory. And other commenters have reaffirmed: I was right. He puts a cymbal on his head and adopts the crazy accent.

      And this is a lazy defense anyway. Could I make a giant-lipped, watermelon eating simpleton and then just reflect the charge of “racism” back at everyone who points out how outrageous it is?

      My point wasn’t that Disney was this den of hate. They were just reflecting the standards of the day, which are now taboo. I’ll bet they see stuff like this and wish it wasn’t out there, or that they hadn’t done it.

      1. Tizzy says:

        I’ll reaffirm it one more time, if necessary, since I actually watched Aristocats again within the past 5 years. I guess the most annoying part about the character is that he was essentially voiceless (language barrier?). But Disney was an equal opportunity offender, and there is plenty of French stereotyping in that movie too.

      2. ngthagg says:

        Actually, the story of Song of the South indicates that Disney doesn’t want to release content that could be construed as racist.

        1. Mari says:

          Don’t get me started on Song of the South. I had to get an import copy of that film for my kids after they visited Disney World and had NO CLUE who many of the characters were in an area of the park. For the record, they’ve released the movie in parts of Europe. Just not the U.S. Not to mention how much I love the film myself because of the happy memories it gives me. I hate Disney with a lot of passion for refusing to release SotS on home video in the U.S. although I do sympathize with how much hate they would get from certain quarters if they did so.

      3. adude says:

        Fair enough, if the character was intended as a racial caricature. But I do have to disagree with this part:
        “And this is a lazy defense anyway. Could I make a giant-lipped, watermelon eating simpleton and then just reflect the charge of “racism” back at everyone who points out how outrageous it is?”

        To me it’s a lot like the Jar-Jar Binks controversy. When I saw The Phantom Menace in theaters all I saw was a goofy alien. Never occurred to me that he could have anything to do with the African-American race or any negative portrayal thereof. I tend to believe Lucas when he says it wasn’t meant as such either. What some people saw, though, was a few characteristics that THEY identified with a negative stereotype and thus concluded Binks must be playing into that stereotype. It seems more like a Rorschach where people saw what they expected to see. Because they thought of his negative qualities as “stereotypically black” qualities, they assumed the character must be saying something about black people. And I think that’s their issue, not Lucas or the actor’s.

        If “giant lipped, watermelon eating simpleton” to you indicates black without any possible equivocation. . . well, you’re doing something wrong. I do understand the historical context that makes it likely that such a portrayal is an intentional caricature. Probably the great majority of such portrayals should be understood as racist. But on the other hand, I know real people who fit that description and are not black. So those qualities alone do not constitute a racial stereotype without a certain context. Unless you want to tell all big lipped, low intelligence, watermelon lovers of other races that they can’t enjoy their favorite snack because it offends black people?

        And that’s basically what I’m saying about the eyes – a squinty cartoon rabbit is not automatically Chinese. Because of other elements in the portrayal you can reach that conclusion, fair enough. But I haven’t seen it and didn’t have any context beyond the half-second clip, so he would never have looked like an offensive stereotype from that vantage point.

        1. Draconis Ravenus says:

          I’d agree with you, adude. I saw Aristocats within the last 3 months, but as far as being an offensive stereotype. Chinese culture uses chopsticks, and sometimes their farmers are seen in wide-brimmed hats. I don’t see anything offensive in how the cartoon portrayed it, but that’s just me.

          Should I be offended if a French animator portrayed Americans as wearing a cowboy hat & eating a hamburger?

          What always bothers me is why we hold up these “OH NO, you can’t do that!!!” mentality when it comes to certain cultural stereotypes… but not others.

          Putting a gong on a character’s head and waving chopsticks around? Unacceptable.

          But having a moustache-twirling french chef run around yelling “zut alors!” in the Little Mermaid? Nobody will EVER complain about that.

          1. Daemian Lucifer says:

            Yeah,but no oe cares about the french.

            Joking aside(only a bit),this answers your questions:

      4. Zaghadka says:

        It’s an odd “Catch 22.” Being sensitive to racial stereotyping means being able to identify a pattern and associate it with race, which in and of itself is the essence of racism.

        In a cognitive sense, in order to recognize that someone is saying “All X are stupid and funny looking,” you have to first think “That image is telling us all X are stupid and funny looking,” and right there you’ve gone and thought it!


        This is why they have to teach sensitivity classes, so people will know what is patently offensive to some “other” group. They have to learn what’s offensive, and then they have to learn to reject it in a cognitive sense. Cops have to train this way all the time, so they don’t make a bad situation worse.

        1. Deoxy says:

          See, I reject that thought pattern entirely. The only way to avoid racism is to perpetuate it?!? WTF????????

          The way to end racism is for the next generation NOT TO LEARN ABOUT IT. But this would require certain groups to stop being biologically-impossibly thin-skinned, so yeah, I guess just teaching them all the bad stuff we don’t want them to do or know about is the least bad thing available.

          (Easy example: the flight attendant who made a rhyme about needing to leave using “einy meenie meinie moe”… which older people know used to have something other than a “tiger” being caught by the toe. The flight attendant in question had never heard such a thing in her life and was thus obviously not being racist about it… but that didn’t stop the lawsuit by a couple of offended people on the plane. So, end result, we all need to teach our children that “tiger” used to be n*****. Yeah, wow, great step forward, THERE, you morons!)

          1. Zaghadka says:

            Yup. Like I said, pernicious.

            You do it, and you perpetuate the problem, in some way.

            You don’t do it, and some cop winds up in a firefight over a cultural misunderstanding.

            Of course, the best way is for everyone to cut each other some damned slack, but there’s a reason they say that “tensions are high.” When that situation exists, you need to do the education. When it doesn’t, we all cut each other a break.

            Everyone prefers the situation to be more relaxed, but unfortunately, we have to deal with the reality and ask “Are tensions high?”

            And we shouldn’t ask some high-strung, too-close-to-the-situation cultural studies expert for the answer to that. We need to do our own community outreach and find out the real situation.

            I think it starts with community. Where that is weak, you have to do the training, as a clearly “necessary evil.”

  28. flameofdoubt says:

    A documentary video I watched on youtube talked about this kind of thing and more directly about the robin hood/snow white dance scene. Apparently one of the high-ups at the time (They don’t say his full name in the video) particularly enjoyed showing off his “knowledgeable Disney animation”, so though the rest of the animators were initially aghast at his reusing of the footage, the way the people being interviewed spoke told it more as though it was something nice to look for than a cost-cutting measure. 101 Dalmations had a similar thing where part of the “twilight bark” sequence had dogs in it from Lady and the tramp, using similar animations initially but then moving to the newer style.

    Here’s the link for your own perusal: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yYt9UmastGo&NR=1

  29. MissusJ says:

    Animation is expensive. Disney was not always a rich behemoth of a company either, especially during the time the older of these clips was made. It is very interesting to see things like this, I enjoyed it.

    Wikipedia claims that the Wind in the Willows sequence was reused in The Jungle Book because they were directed by the same guy, who liked to reuse his older work. If that is true (it needs a citation), I wonder how many of the others have similar stories. As the Nine Old Men had a lot to do with the movies involved in these clips it is easily possible, though that couldn’t explain it all.

    I wondered if the Beauty and the Beast dance scenes could be more of a reference to Sleeping Beauty rather than the cost-cutting of the other clips- it is much newer and Disney spent more on it. So I went to check Wikipedia, where it does say that “The film includes intentional homages to other films such as The Sound of Music (in a scene with Belle on a hilltop), and earlier Disney animated features.” The article referenced on Wikipedia mentions Sleeping Beauty among other homages.

    For the record: 101 Dalamations (1961) and Sword in the Stone (1963) were also seen in the video, near the end. 101 Dalmatians was the first movie made using, well, Xerox machines, as far as I understand it, (think about all those spots!) resulting in the scratchier borders around the characters. This was also a cost cutting measure, so the idea that they would recycle actions to cut costs fits with other things also happening at that time. Most of the clips in this movie came from this period, so my theory is that cost was the main factor, seconded by similarities in the animation staff, and enabled by the fact that the movies generally were not seen much after their initial run.

    1. asterismW says:

      This is more my take of the copied scenes. Yes, it was probably a cost-cutting measure, but maybe they were also paying homage to their earlier movies. Disney does this all the time, and I think it’s a delight to see Belle walking the streets near Notre Dame or a lady in New Orleans shake out a magic carpet.

  30. Tizzy says:

    I find the copy/pasting quite understandable. The bit that surprised me though is the *length* of some of these sequences that seem to be exactly copied. Quite understandable when it’s dance steps, a little bit more surprising when it’s action sequences that involve discrete events. I understand how you could copy one or two, but why do the whole thing? (I’m thinking about the jungle book/ some other movie with the guy and the sword comparison in particular).

    One thing this tells us, I think, is how much more savvy the public has become. The main reason why this copy-pasting is not used any more is not a change in cost or techniques, but simply that you could not get away with it nowadays. Watching movies has become much more of an analytical endeavor, everyone is an armchair critic (and soon everyone will be an armchair game designer too!).

    1. NeilD says:

      I think it’s not necessarily that the public has become more savvy, but simply that we have more opportunity to watch movies, and to watch them repeatedly. It wasn’t that long ago we didn’t even have VCRs (OK, it was longer than I want to think about, but really, not that long), and not long before that, no cable networks.

      Prior to that, watching a movie meant either paying to see it during its theatrical run, or hoping to catch it next time it played on one of the handful of channels broadcasting in your area. If you were otherwise occupied that night, you didn’t get to see it.

      Now we take it for granted that we can watch movies whenever we like, and as often as we like, so we can afford to disengage from the movie and watch it with a critical eye rather than try to absorb every fleeting moment because you don’t know when or even if you might ever get to see it again.

      And after you’ve watched The Jungle Book for the fifteenth time this week with your kid, those dance moves are going to look startlingly familiar when you pop in that Robin Hood DVD.

  31. disneyfan says:

    You’re right about the “chinese” cat from the Aristocats. I re-watched that movie last year and was horrified by that character. It’s super racist. And it’s not question of it being intentionally racist or not – it was a socially acceptable stereotype at the time (that movie is from the 60’s I think) but that doesn’t mean it’s not racist.

  32. Submarine Bells says:

    Heh. To all those folks who are referring to “laziness” in the borrowing of movement sequences here: try creating one single minute of smooth hand-drawn animation yourself and then tell me that re-using reference footage is “lazy”. *laugh* Because that’s what’s going on here – the actual animations aren’t borrowed. They’re all hand-drawn, and the differences between an orang-utan and a chicken are quite substantial. Watch the squash-and-stretch of the body movements, the arm lengths, the secondary motion of hair, garments etc – those are different for each character. Remember that each frame is HAND DRAWN – and they would have taken a similar amount of time to draw whether they were using the same reference footage or different references. Sharing references saves a little time in the planning stages, but the vast majority of these examples are significantly different to each other in the details, and that’s non-trivial.

    1. ngthagg says:

      This is a good point. I wonder what the actual savings would be. I suspect they probably saved money on lead animators, by having inbetweeners do the key frames as well, using the old movies as a guide.

      1. Paul says:

        I suspect the savings is not in cost per frame but in the fluidity and realism of the motions the characters go through. It would be frustrating and time consuming to draw out a dance scene and decide it looks horrible and needs to be redone. The real cost cutting measure is in reusing the old footage instead of hiring new people to be rotoscoped over.

  33. Stephanie says:

    I know that they’d bring in live models and film them doing the dance scenes as a reference – kind of like what they do now with body suits and CGI. But it takes a Very Long time to hand draw animation – I remember watching an interview with a Disney artist for Snow White who had a short scene of funny stuff with soup being cut out, and his anguished response at the time was “That’s six months of my life!”
    I’m not surprised that they reused some of their more complicated scenes, and particularly when the only way people were going to see these movies was in a theatrical release – who was going to notice?

  34. Sadia says:

    I actually own every Disney movie there is to own and all this video has accomplished for me is that it has sparked my desire to watch them all again. Thanks!

  35. Steven says:

    Yeah, the Aristocats character was a sterotypical Asian, but I don’t think the rabbit in Robin Hood was. I remember him being more of a hillbilly kind of character.

  36. Scott says:

    I would heartily recommend the newly released documentary “Waking Sleeping Beauty”. I went to the opening last night (even spoke with the director!) and was thoroughly impressed with the amount of work going into Disney’s movies. Go see it!!

  37. Rhombus says:

    if Sleeping Beauty is anything to go by, original animation was created by having a model act out the scene while several artists frantically sketched out the movements.


  38. Guile says:

    Neat. I can honestly say I never noticed any of that. Of course, the Robin Hood movie was never big on my list of Disney movies, and I only watched Aristocats the once.

    Still… that Chinese cat was horrible. Playing the piano using chopsticks? That doesn’t even make SENSE. What if he wanted to hit more than four keys at once?

    … I do dig that song, though. Everybody wants to be a cat…

  39. Facus says:

    Sense no one has linked it yet, heres a prime example of Disney’s poor choices in what they produce.
    Donald Duck joins the nazi’s…

    1. Elanor says:

      Oh please, during the war time EVERYONE was doing this. Superman, Bugs bunny, EVERYONE. Its just that now they’re viewed as grossly politically incorrect and swept under the rug. Personally I think all the studios (WB, Disney, etc) should acknowledge their Wartime efforts as historical documents.

      Ignoring the past leads to it repeating itself.

    2. James Schend says:

      Did you actually *watch* the cartoon you linked to? It’s obviously *anti*-Nazi. Donald Duck doesn’t “join the Nazis”, it’s a dream sequence. Did you just watch the first minute and make a snap judgment about the whole thing?

      BTW, as Elanor says, all cartoon characters did anti-Axis movies at that point in history. You should see the Superman cartoon, he actively kills Japanese sailors by sabotaging their ships.

      1. facus says:

        Yea I actually watched the whole thing. Wrote my text that way to get attention to it. =) (a little social engineering if you will) Rather interesting the things the various media outlets do for gain and popularity. Which can eventually get denied when its no longer the “thing” to do. Claims of it being a different time makes it acceptable, because opinion of right and wrong change with the cares and concerns of the society in which you operate.

        on a side note, I found the cartoon rather amusing.

  40. Telas says:

    I thought it was going to be another “Avatar is just Pocahontas with sexy Smurfs” video.

    Imagine my disappointment when it wasn’t. (Not an Avatar fan, if you can’t tell.)

  41. Dan says:

    My daughter watches most of these movies a lot. Just to back up Shamus, yes, the Asian cat in Aristocats is basically “What if we made Mickey Rooney’s character from Breakfast at Tiffany’s a jazz drummer with Tigger’s voice?” Although I’d say the single most embarrassing example of Disney racial stereotypes is the Indians in Peter Pan (not in the featured video). As a fan of both Disney and pulp writers like Robert E. Howard, I’m of the school that we shouldn’t expunge such material, but look at it as a historical document. “Yeah, thats where we were as a society when that came out. And, yeah, we’re pretty embarrassed about it.”

    1. Shamus says:

      I’d agree with this. It’s actually important to see how things have changed.

      We actually had to talk to our kids about this kind of thing. They were watching super-old black and white cartoons (I’m thinking it was either an old Popeye, or an old Tom & Jerry) and we hit the watermelon-eating stereotype I cited above. I didn’t run over and turn off the TV. Instead we had a little talk about what that was, who it was supposed to be, why it was there, and why it wasn’t okay to do that. I certainly wouldn’t want them to be _ignorant_ of that.

      1. LOLdependent says:

        Being a Popeye cartoon maybe you could also tell them about violence and not solving absolutely every problem in your life with it :)

        1. Jarenth says:

          Not to mention the many benefits of eating spinach straight from the can.

    2. evileeyore says:

      “Yeah, thats where we were as a society when that came out. And, yeah, we're pretty embarrassed about it.”


      I’m not embarrassed at all.*

      It was where we were. If we were still there, then I’d agree to perhaps some embarrassment.

      * Though yes, I can see where your coming from. No, I don’t wish to get into a political argument over it. I think being embarrassed over events of the past one had zero control over is useless and ridiculous.

  42. Dave says:

    It’s actually more embarrassing when it’s something from the recent past, like this gem of an ad from a British beverage producer in the 80s. You can kind of look at things from 50 years ago and say “Well, that’s how things were back then” but it’s alive and well.


    Warning: Your head might explode after watching this

    1. Namaps says:

      I think that ad just shows how overly sensitive Americans are about anything involving race. Is anything in that cartoon really more offensive than a barefoot hillbilly with no shoes, overalls, and a corn cob pipe? Or a drunken Irishman in a green suit in a bar room scuffle? They’re all unflattering stereotypes, but there’s no reason to get so riled up by them. Their cartoonish absurdity should undermine their capacity to really offend…

  43. RachKath says:

    The character at 1:13 is one of a pair of sleazy SIAMESE cats. Yes, he or she is an Asian stereotype from 50 years ago. That doesn’t excuse it but it also doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be seen. I’m 40, I caught some of the last TV screenings of Song of the South and I would love to see it again. However, what shocks me is how many Asian stereotypes, as well as a few Arab ones I saw in the last 3 Star Wars movies but all the complaints were about Jar-Jar. For the record, I am not Asian. I’m half European (White)/ half Mexican (White and Native American). I call them as I see them.

    1. Jeff says:

      We were all very concerned about negative Gungan stereotypes.

      It’s really not like nobody’s ever mentioned that before. Jar Jar was just talked about more. People are more willing to overlook/accept stereotypes than they are willing to accept loud and annoying things. Especially when those stereotypes are depicted as aliens. It’s not very subtle, but it’s still subtler than Jar Jar Binks is.

  44. Broggly says:

    Anyone know what the song playing in the background is?

    1. MW says:

      The song is one that was originally recorded for “Snow White” but didn’t make the final version. I think it’s just called “The Silly Song” and it was supposed to be a scene in which the Dwarfs entertain Snow White. It fell somewhere in the plot alongside the scene where Snow White is dancing with them.
      I’m about 90 percent sure on this ….

  45. Amarsir says:

    This brings to mind something I’ve thought about before: can a single character independently be called “racist”? I don’t think so. You either need repetition of traits among different characters in the work or else need to apply your own external baggage.

    For example, Joey from Friends was an Italian-American character known for being dumb. Yet there was never any serious claim that he was stereotyping Italians as dumb. His traits were his alone, not representative.

    Therefore, the accurate criticism of the “chinese cat” wouldn’t be that it’s racist per-se, but rather that it’s consistent with racism which existed in society. (Contrast this to portrayal of the Indians as a group, where the traits were carried over between characters.) Now in the case of Disney they clearly knew what they were doing, and I’m not suggesting this as a defense for them.

    However, these comments have shown that there were plenty of people who saw nothing racist in the clip because they have no basis on which to think so. I could imagine one of them thinking “hey, that squinty cat is kind of funny, I want to show that clip to people!” And then they get branded as racist because, ironically, they weren’t stereotyping enough.

    The result is that we end up carrying these stereotypes forward by forcing people to look for them. We should understand historical racism and why it’s wrong, but I have a problem telling people they need to memorize offensive characteristics and constantly be aware of them just to avoid incidental overlap.

    For a real example, Atlanta recently renamed their rail system with easy-to-reference colors instead of longer descriptive names. The Protector Creek Line became the Green Line. The West-East Line became the Blue Line. And NorthEast-South line became the Yellow Line.

    Is the racism not apparent? It was to some people, who realized that the yellow line happens to go through a neighborhood with a denser Asian population. They concluded this was calling them “yellow people”, which is of course racist. Quite a surprise to those behind the colors, who assigned them randomly. They agreed to rename it the Gold line, no doubt checking carefully first to ensure it didn’t service any Jewish neighborhoods.

    I think that’s silly. I would like to put racism behind us as a historical artifact. Let’s not pretend it never existed, but we shouldn’t be carrying it around either. So when it comes to stereotype-matching cats, who were indeed the product of a society that tolerated racism, I am perfectly happy to see people not “get it” today.

    1. (LK) says:

      Here in Los Angeles’ suburbs, the Gold Line is also the train I take to get to Chinatown.

      Of course, this is only because the Gold Line is the line that happens to run to my area from Union Station, which happens to be near Chinatown. All lines run to Union Station, so it’s completely coincidental and meaningless, but you can remark upon it in a stereotypical light if you try to.

      Anything can seem racist if you look at it with a sufficiently myopic lens :)

      (oops, why is this comment being held for moderation? Never happened to me before…)

  46. Spider Dave says:

    The dance sequences were rotoscoped, with the same footage being used underneath for both. For things like Ka and the elephants, that’s just a reused animation to save time, and it works in both places. Seems likea clever idea to me, since you really have to see this youtube video to notice. The worst Disney movie I can think of in this regard was Sword in the stone. There are several reused motions and animations throughout the movie.

    For the chinese stereotype, you’re definitely not imagining it. He plays the piano using chopsticks while saying the following in a pseudo-asian accent:
    Shanghai, Honk Kong, Egg Foo Yong.
    Fortune cookie always wrong.

  47. RubicantX says:

    Stereotypes DO come from a little thing called REALITY.
    For the record, a matter of fact, stereotypes do not equal racism.
    Let’s go with the “terrible” (<-word said in a mocking tone) asian stereotype: My uncle is a living breathing asian stereotype.
    Squinty/Slanted eyes? Check. Yellow skin? Check. Speaks as if there's only one of everything in the world because he finds it difficult to use the letter "s" on the end of a word to make it plural? Check. Buys all the newest and most expensive electronic gadgets? (before the recession) Check.

    There was a show called "Drawn Together: The worlds first animated reality show" (Comedy Central – it was for adults) where one episode the ever unidentifiable "they" are rounding up and ethnically cleansing all the "racist" cartoons (at one point we see a "Speedy Gonzales" look-alike in a cell awaiting ethnic cleansing) and they pick up one of the casts characters "Foxy Love" who's black and talks especially "ghetto" for this episode after becoming ill which transforms her into a bit of a mammy as well.
    It kind of makes me sad to see this episode since that's how the world really is today.

    I'm Italian, but you see me getting mad that black people sung "do-wop"? No. (that's a joke FYI, but I could accuse racism in "today's world")
    Seriously though I'm also gay. While there are a few gay stereotypes that are based solely on hate and misunderstanding, there are many others that are very true of quite a few of us.
    Everyone a mix of a couple stereotypes drawn from “ye olde big book of stereotypes” that matches their race, religion, gender, age, nationality, and sexual orientation. Think of how many “politically correct” comedic moments there still are in every show are based off “accepted” stereotypes. That’s how I see all this turning every character into the same drone robots: ethnic cleansing. That’s racist.
    I’m all for acceptance, empathy, and yada-yada, but let’s be REAL and HONEST and stop all the babying.

    As for the techniques that made it worth-while to recycle I’m pretty sure it’s just a mental one and a time saver. They know exactly how to draw the positions of the characters’ body parts so no need for much thinking or time wasted on scene planning, and they know the audience will like it.

    Matt K said:
    “All I have to say is that I still find it surprising that Snow White is from 1930s. That animation looks really good. And the dance scene from Cinderella (1950) is pretty spectacular as well, especially with the changing of color in her dress.”

    That’s what hand drawn animation looks like. I dislike the blandness of todays animation made on computers. So many details in just a bunch of lines and color changes and such that made those old movies look great are not found in newer animated shows/movies.
    PS If you’ve never seen “The Last Unicorn” you should.

    1. MissusJ says:

      As an aside, I have noticed that older animation has been looking a lot better in higher definition (blue-ray) than older live action footage. If you haven’t seen Sleeping Beauty in BlueRay, you really should- it’s as crisp as the first Transformers movie’s robot fights.

      I will be interested to see if the computerized animation benefits as much from the high definition conversion. First test will be this November, when Beauty and the Beast comes out… :)

    2. Mike Has Answers says:

      Stereotypes DO come from a little thing called REALITY.
      Oh boy. This should be good.

      My uncle is a living breathing asian stereotype.
      Yes, people do in fact exist who conform to any given stereotype. That doesn’t mean the stereotype isn’t insulting or widely inaccurate.

      “terrible” (<-word said in a mocking tone)
      Thanks, I couldn’t tell just with the italics and quotes.

      “they” are rounding up and ethnically cleansing all the “racist” cartoons… It kind of makes me sad to see this episode since that’s how the world really is today.
      Wait, you mean the world is full of ethnic cleansing? Or moving away from depicting stereotypes of race in cartoons? Because if it’s the latter it doesn’t make me sad at all

      I’m Italian, but you see me getting mad that black people sung “do-wop”? No. (that’s a joke FYI, but I could accuse racism in “today’s world”)
      That’s pretty obscure. By the way, your sarcastic quotation marks are starting to get out of hand.

      Think of how many “politically correct” comedic moments there still are in every show are based off “accepted” stereotypes. That's how I see all this turning every character into the same drone robots: ethnic cleansing.That first sentence, even ignoring the grammatical error, is kind of impossible to parse. But as for drone robots, aren’t stereotypes closer to that than their absence is? They presume that anyone with one characteristic will have a whole slew of others, and don’t give much credit to humanity’s ability to define itself.

  48. Mike Has Answers says:

    Why is that bear in Robin Hood also Baloo?

  49. Lorie says:

    They still do it. The ending dance scene between Belle and the Prince is exactly the same as The final dance between Aurora and Prince Philip. They even tell you that on the DVD. It isn’t something they hide.

    It hasn’t happened recently because they stopped hand animating, but now they have gone back (with Princess and the Frog) and I am sure it will start happening again. I actually enjoy looking for the similarities.

  50. They missed one–the scenes from The Jungle Book and from The Sword in the Stone where Mowgli and Wart respectively go home and are assaulted by dogs are frame-by-frame identical.

  51. william says:

    if anyone’s still wondering, i think its called “basil the mouse detective”

  52. JohnW says:

    You know, the foxy Maid Marian is pretty hot.

  53. Tesh says:

    We *never* reuse animations or textures when we make games, nope, nope. We also animate every single frame of every animation, too. That’s why they are so expensive to make.

    Lazy Disney animators… you’d think they had to draw, paint and photograph every frame or something.


    Yes, this is just a lot of stock use of rotoscope source material. It cut costs and staved off some of the production death march. It’s a bit of a hack, but it worked. Don’t forget the voice actors, either; Cinderella’s stepmother and Malificent were both voiced by Eleanor Audley, and Phil Harris did Baloo and Little John. John Ratzenberger does a voice in every Pixar film. John Goodman has done a few voices for Disney lately, too: Sulley, Pacha, Eli ‘Big Daddy’ La Bouff… heck, he even steps into Phil Harris’ shoes in The Jungle Book 2.

  54. johndavies says:

    The reason they use this is NOT to save money! Its cause disney is aware that there films are used for programming and brainwashing for multi-personality slaves in programs like MK Ultra. They need to be so similar because they are trying to compartmentalize the mind of a human, so they need to distort their singular reality into multiple ones. If you arent familiar with mind control programs this will just sound crazy but it happens and its been documented that they use disney films along with their trauma based conditioning to separate the mind. Go do the research on it and this make PERFECT SENSE. If you think it was a money related issue you are a god damn naive fool.

  55. cj says:

    In regards to your edit, I think you’re thinking of the “Everybody Wants to Be a Cat” song in Aristocats. I remember during the song a Siamese cat doing a rather non-PC part in the song. Maybe that’s what you remember?
    (Of course it’s possible Disney also recycles their racial stereotypes too)

  56. Robin Hood movie is quite good, a bit more historically accurate in my opinion”.~

  57. Aaron says:

    I’m undertaking a little something of the identical interest and having be aware on this .Thanks a lot.

  58. HS says:

    The stereotype is what I am guessing is supposed to be a Siamese cat playing the drums. U are right about the accent. In the scene he plays the piano using chop sticks and says “Shang high hong kong ic foo yung, fortune cookie always wrong”

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