“What Made the Red Man Red?” is a song from Disney’s animated film “Peter Pan,” released in 1953. The song was written by Sammy Fain (music) and Sammy Cahn (lyrics) and is performed by the characters Peter Pan, the Lost Boys, and Native American characters in the film.
In “Peter Pan,” “What Made the Red Man Red?” is sung during a scene where Peter Pan, Wendy, John, and Michael visit the Indian Camp in Neverland. The song is performed by the Lost Boys and Chief Tiger Bamboo’s tribe of Native Americans. It is intended to be a playful and humorous moment, but the song’s lyrics and depiction of Native Americans have raised concerns about cultural sensitivity and stereotypes.
The lyrics of “What Made the Red Man Red?” have been criticized for perpetuating harmful stereotypes and caricatures of Native American culture. The song includes lines that exaggerate Native American characteristics, using them as punchlines in a comedic manner. It is important to acknowledge that the portrayal of Native American characters in “Peter Pan” reflects outdated and inappropriate representations that do not align with modern cultural sensitivity.
In recent years, Disney has recognized the need for cultural sensitivity and has taken steps to address and update portrayals of diverse communities in their films. While “Peter Pan” remains a classic in Disney’s animated filmography, the song “What Made the Red Man Red?” is now understood as an example of the problematic depictions present in some older Disney films.
It is essential to recognize that cultural sensitivity is an ongoing conversation, and Disney continues to adapt its storytelling and portrayals to reflect modern values and respect diverse cultures.
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