Revised: Peter Pan Flies into South

Milad Jihani, Reporter

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.

Email This Story

As a society, we have an obligation to make sure that our past is not forgotten. When films such as “Peter Pan” or “Aladdin” were made, characters such as Tiger Lily and Jafar were caricatured to fit the stereotypes of their ethnic groups at the time. For example, when “Peter Pan” originally came out in 1953, there was a scene in the movie where Peter Pan and Wendy meet the Piccaninny Tribe and the song “Why is the Red Man Red” is sung. They are depicted as people with bright red skin and disrespect and mock various aspects of Native American culture, such as their clothes, their headdresses and their sacred drums, which some consider to be living entities. The jokes they made were wrong then and are wrong today, but if you refuse to watch a movie or play because of its racial undertones, you are denying that the racism itself ever existed. We need these movies and plays to remind us of the struggle colored people and women went through in America. They are a part of our history that should not and cannot be forgotten.

If people were to refuse to watch a movie like “Peter Pan” because of its cultural insensitivity, they would also have to stop watching shows such as “Family Guy”, which constantly jokes about people’s sexuality, religion and race. How people view “Family Guy” today is exactly how people viewed “Peter Pan” in 1953. While the show can be offensive, it’s not racist, unlike “Peter Pan”.

While there is a line between satire and racism, most old shows and movies were racist, while some of the writers may not have even known it due to the different standards of their time. For a show to be able to make edgy jokes about a singular minority group, they also need to show that they don’t have bad intentions by not specifically targeting that one group alone. A good example of this would be “South Park”, where even though the jokes are normally questionable, you can’t say that it is racist because they make fun of almost every race and culture consistently.

It’s important to remember that the South Theatre has censored the original version by taking a lot of the outdated parts out of their production. The article above is not referencing South’s production, but rather the original movie. In South’s version, they depict the Picaninny Tribe as “Amazons” and they have taken out the “Why the Red Man is Red” scene.

“Well they’re warriors to begin with. They were originally depicted… as kinda silly. We wanted to get them more serious looking. The initial dance comes out and establishes that very clearly,” theatre director Mark Swezey said.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email