It's no secret that there are a myriad of problematic racial themes in pop culture throughout history. For instance, there's now a petition calling on Disney to update Splash Mountain to address "extremely problematic and stereotypical racist tropes" that stem from the ride's inspiration and it has over 12,000 signatures. What's more, the petition has a pretty brilliant suggestion for what the new theme should be.
Splash Mountain was initially built in 1989, according to Disney Parks, and the theme of the ride comes from the award-winning 1946 Disney film Song Of The South. The film was based on stories from Uncle Remus about the adventures of Brer Bear and Brer Rabbit, features the song "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah," and has long been labelled as racist.
The petition on Change.org started by Alex O is asking that the theme of Splash Mountain be reconsidered. "The classic log flume ride Splash Mountain is featured in Disneyland, Disney World and Tokyo Disneyland," the petition reads. "While the ride is considered a beloved classic [its] history and storyline are steeped in extremely problematic and stereotypical racist tropes."
"While the rides storyline is not an exact version of the movie's plot line it is derivative from it, the characters, the songs and locations are all main features of the ride," the petition adds. Romper has reached out to Disney Parks for comment on the petition.
The film, Song Of The South, has often been criticized for racist undertones and its "romanticized view of the post-Civil War South," according to CNN. As The Guardian pointed out last year: "There are plenty of examples of pernicious racism in Song of the South that are right there on the surface: the minstrelsy of the animated characters, particularly Br’er Fox; the slang in the dialogue; a wandering chorus singing traditional black songs."
While the petition has asked for a new theme, it also helpfully offered an alternative that has already proven popular with Disney fans. "Princess and the Frog is a beloved princess movie but has very little representation in the parks," the petition reads. "Tiana could be one of the first princesses with a thrill ride, as well as giving her a much deserved place in the parks. The framing of the ride is such that it could be easily changed to tell the story of Tiana while not compromising too much of the ride/costing a fortune in remodeling for Disney."
Some Fans took to social media to share their approval of this idea. "I actually love the princess and the frog idea!!!!" one person tweeted. "Disney don’t be shy, turn splash mountain into a princess and the frog ride," another wrote. Not everyone, however, is a fan of the idea and want the ride to remain the same.
One thing many Disney fans do seem to agree on is the fact that Tiana, the Black princess from the film, is vastly underrepresented at Disney theme parks.
Disney has been taking steps to acknowledge some of its more problematic films from the past on its streaming app, Disney+, by adding a disclaimer about racist stereotypes on some of its older films, like Dumbo and Fantasia. Song Of The South, it should be noted, has not even be shared on the streaming app. Nor has it been sold on VHS or DVD since 2011, as CinemaBlend reported. So perhaps the time has come for a new theme for Splash Mountain.