Racism and stereotyping in Disney’s Lady and the Tramp

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Racismand stereotyping in Disney’s Lady and the Tramp


Introduction 3

Racism and xenophobia 3

Gender Stereotyping 3

Other Ethnic Stereotypes and Racism 4

The naivety and lack of knowledge of the Chihuahua 4

Conclusion 5

References 6

Racismand stereotyping in Disney’s Lady and the Tramp

Itis quite common for people to notice several objects of interest infilms which are usually based on personal perceptions as well as thesocietal norms. One of the major issues that never escape the eyes ofthe critics is racism and stereotyping. While watching the Disneyfilm “Lady and the Tramp”, these two aspects seem to come outquite conspicuously and thus the need to bring some of these aspectsto light. In this paper, the character depiction regarding racism andstereotyping will be argued out.

Racismcan be observed in the film as portrayed by the Siamese cats. Thesecats are quite ugly and they have evil minds. This is seen by the waythey destroy the items and property and raise havoc. In additionthese cunning cats are depicted as having an Asian accent as well asthe chopsticks. In my opinion this racial depiction that involvescriminalization of the cats portrays the Asians especially during theinflux of the Asians to America. This racist depiction is furtherexaggerated by the way the cats kill the fish and steal milk from thebaby. This might be viewed as indicating Asians as predatory.Furthermore the cats are unattractive, crafty and sinister. Thisoutlook of these cats coupled by their actions including setting upLady seems to raise a xenophobic ideology towards the Asians. Itlooks as if the Asians arrived in America with the intent to disturbthe citizens and take away their jobs or positions. Moreover, to anextent, social racism can also be identified by the fact that purebreed dogs seem to be in an upper social class than the other dogsthus suggesting that other people who are not Americans are supposedto be at a lower position.

Stereotypingis also evident in this Disney film in several instances. First andforemost is the stereotype that women are weak and need to be saved.This can be observed by the way Tramp saves the Lady, a damsel indistress being pursued by other dogs. In one way this could indicatethat women need saving by men. In another perspective, the men arethe only ones capable of saving women and that is part of whatdefines a man. This conventional image also seems to indicate that agirl is likely to fall for the boy who rescues or saves her. Inaddition, to this, Tramp portrays the bad-boy image or rather one whogets around. This is also a stereotype that tends to imply that girlsare attracted to “tramps”. The stereotyping also comes outheavily when Tramp is depicted as the Ladies’ man shown when Ladyconfronts him about the string of relationships he previously had.This event tends to imply that men are normally more inclined tohaving several relationships with girls. This is quite amisrepresentation of the genders by suggesting that men arewomanizers. Lastly, the gender stereotyping in this film is typicalof most of Disney’s films. It seems to indicate that women cannotbe saviors of men and hence unable to sustain themselves. In regardto this, most feminists would disagree.

Thereare other instances where stereotypes have been portrayed. Differentethnic groups have been stereotyped differently in this film althoughnot always in a negative approach like the Siamese cats. In thisfilm, some ethnic groups have been characterized positively whileothers have been categorized in a negative perspective. Inparticular, a Chihuahua named Pedro is strongly stereotyped by thethick accent as well as the lack of education. The naivety and lackof knowledge of the Chihuahua could be observed as racist. In otherwords, the hackneyed idea here depicts the Mexicans/Latinos asilliterate. This comes in addition to being illegal immigrants andpotential lawbreakers, dirty and unattractive. Furthermore, theRussians are represented by the wolfhound Boris the Borzoicharacterized as being quite philosophical. The Italians on the otherhand are stereotyped by the plump and round cheerful restaurant manwith the thick Italian accent and quick little gestures. This Italianportrayal slightly varies from the other media images that depictItalians as being Mafias. Whether positive or negative, thestereotyping portrayed by these groups mentioned above comes outquite strongly. This follows the exaggerated attributes afflicted tothe various characters.

Inalmost all films, only few will come out without a single episode ofscenes that may be interpreted as racist or stereotypic in thatcontext. The variation of character depiction varies from film tofilm. These expressions of disapproval may be included in the filmseither intentionally or unintentionally. The final result of how thefilm and characters are illuminated entirely depends on theindividual perceptions as well as the culture and norms of theaudience. As children, some of these episodes may not be recognizedor clearly understood but adults would not miss to identify some ofthese significant controversies involving the hidden messages ofracism and stereotyping in these films.


Maio,K. (1999, June 19). Women,Race &amp Culture in Disney`s Movies.Retrieved from Newint:http://newint.org/easier-english/Disney/diswomen-p.html