Peter Pan is a beloved children’s story that has captured the hearts of generations. It tells the story of Peter, a boy who never grows up, and his adventures in Neverland with the Darling children. One of the most iconic songs from the Disney movie adaptation of Peter Pan is “What Makes The Red Man Red”. This song has become controversial in recent years due to its racist lyrics and portrayal of Native Americans.
The lyrics of “What Makes The Red Man Red” are filled with stereotypes and offensive language. The song is sung by the Lost Boys and Captain Hook’s crew, who are portrayed as ignorant and foolish. The chorus of the song goes:
What made the red man red?
What made the red man red?
Let’s go back a million years
To the very first Injun prince
The lyrics continue to describe Native Americans as “noble savages” and “red-skinned devils”. They also make reference to tomahawks, totem poles, and war whoops. Overall, the song is a caricature of Native American culture that perpetuates harmful stereotypes.
In recent years, there has been growing criticism of “What Makes The Red Man Red” and its portrayal of Native Americans. Many people view the song as offensive and racist. Some Native American groups have protested against the song and called for it to be removed from future releases of the movie.
In response to the controversy, Disney has added a content warning to the beginning of the movie on its streaming platform. The warning acknowledges that the movie contains “outdated cultural depictions” and encourages viewers to “learn more about the history of Native American and Indigenous peoples”.
Despite its problematic lyrics, “What Makes The Red Man Red” remains a memorable part of the Peter Pan movie. It is often cited as an example of how cultural attitudes have changed since the movie was made in 1953. The controversy surrounding the song has also sparked important conversations about representation and diversity in media.
While it is important to acknowledge the harmful stereotypes perpetuated by “What Makes The Red Man Red”, it is also important to recognize that this song is just one example of the many ways in which Native Americans have been misrepresented in popular culture. By continuing to educate ourselves and challenge harmful stereotypes, we can work towards a more inclusive and respectful society.
The lyrics of “What Makes The Red Man Red” may be offensive and outdated, but they also serve as a reminder of the harm that stereotypes and ignorance can cause. As we continue to strive for a more just and equitable society, it is important to confront and challenge harmful representations of marginalized groups. By doing so, we can create a more inclusive and respectful world for all.