Disney has been making a conscious and notable effort to change sexist narratives in their films in the wake of the #MeToo movement.
Their live-action remakes have become increasingly female focused and reimagined female characters as empowered leads. Just think about how real life Belle and Princess Jasmine differ from the cartoon versions.
Disney are leading the charge against the sexist norms of the past and reshaping how our world thinks about feminism, respect and equality.
Their latest move was a subtle one but very important: they deleted a sexist scene from Toy Story 2.
The scene was a Hollywood casting couch-style scenario and featured Stinky Pete the Prospector chatting saucily to two Barbie dolls, stroking their hands and suggesting he could get them a part in the next movie.
You know the scenario. If you’re a female I’m sad to say you might even be familiar with it: old fat man pressures young beautiful woman to exchange sexual favours for career support.
It makes my skin crawl but it’s a narrative which has been quite common not only in Hollywood but in the real world. Hence, #MeToo.
The scene in Toy Story 2 is not funny and definitely not necessary to the plot.
Disney’s decision to re-edit the movie proves they are tuned into current social issues and are self-aware: while they can’t erase their past missteps, they can course correct and work towards change.
Disney can and are working to change the future.
I’m not just talking about the future of film- although they are definitely working to change the industry for females- I also mean our future.
I might love Toy Story as an adult but it’s first and foremost a children’s film and always will be. I don’t’ want my child growing up watching scenes like this one with Prospector Pete and thinking that type of sexist behaviour is okay.
I don’t want my daughter to think a man of any age, background or profession can use her ambition as leverage for sex.
If Disney decided to keep the sexist scene in Toy Story 2 they would be perpetuating sexist ways of thinking in young children. Essentially, they would have been saying “this is okay.”
It’s definitely not okay. Thank goodness Disney knows it.