“Hop” = no hope (unless you’re white)

All movies—and especially children’s movies—have a primary message: good is rewarded; be true to who you are; follow your heart; wishes are good; visit Disneyland … whatever. But it’s always there, and it’s always obvious.

The primary, overt, not-even-slightly-subtle message of the deplorable movie Hop, out on DVD March 23, is that the very idea of Hispanics succeeding is a joke.

The star of Hop is a rambunctious young drummer bunny named E.B.—short for Easter Bunny. E.B.’s elderly father, Mr. Bunny, Sr., is the Easter Bunny. He oversees a vast candy factory (that, judging from the mountains of Kisses it produces, is heavily subsidized by the Hershey Company). On Easter every year, Mr. Bunny delivers the factory’s Kisses and colored eggs to children all over the world. (Although, he pointedly notes, “We haven’t cracked China yet.” Because nothing says children’s movie like the theme of economic and cultural imperialism.)

Mr. Bunny’s factory is run by Carlos, whose name and heavy accent leave no doubt that he is Hispanic. Like Carlos, the legions of workers at the factory are yellow chicks. Carlos, however, is a good deal less cute than the chicks he oversees. He is twice as tall as they. And while they are fluffy balls of adorableness, Carlos is simply out-of-shape fat. But the main difference between Carlos and his workers is that they are all wide-eyed, childlike simpletons, while Carlos is conniving, evil, and violent.

When young E.B. goes missing (he runs away to Hollywood in a failed attempt to find a decent plot to this movie), Carlos, back at the plant, decides to finally reveal to Mr. Bunny, Sr. his passionate, long held desire to be—or at least perform the functions of—the Easter Bunny. Donning rabbit ears to help Mr. Bunny envision him in the role, he makes an ironclad case for why should be the proxy Easter Bunny: he’s been Mr. Bunny’s dependable right-hand man for years on end; and he knows the business inside-out (as opposed to E.B., who has never shown any interest whatsoever in the job he was born to inherit).

Carlos is clearly the man for the job. And Mr. Bunny does, after all, need someone to step in and deliver the candy. He’s grown too old to do it himself; this is the year that E.B. was supposed to take over. But E.B. had disappeared.

“Why not me?” asks Carlos. “I can do it! I’m ready!”

The idea of Carlos filling in as the Easter Bunny strikes the father as so outlandish that it makes him laugh in Carlos’ face. As, still chuckling, he walks away, a foreboding shadow fall across Carlos’ face. Now, for the first time, evil Carlos emerges.

“Yeah, see you later,” he murmurs angrily. “Enjoy your life of privilege.”

And suddenly this children’s movie, in no uncertain terms, is about racism and class warfare. We are given virtually no reason for Carlos being summarily refused the job for which he is clearly qualified: it can only be because he’s Hispanic. We know it’s not because he’s not a rabbit: when out of nowhere the young white man in the movie decides that he wants to be the Easter Bunny, Mr. Bunny, Sr.—knowing full well the guy knows absolutely nothing about the job—bestows upon him the title and function of co-Easter Bunny.

Dedicated, hard-working, fully knowledgeable, vastly experienced Hispanic? Absolutely not.

White guy with no knowledge or experience? Yes, yes, yes.

That’s the message of his shameful movie: if you’re born privileged, or white, you can easily go straight to the top. But if you are unfortunate enough to be born Hispanic, then you can do the work, and you can supervise lots of others of your type—but, for you, that’s where it stops. If you kowtow and keep your place you might make it to second place. But first place will always be denied you—and you will never be told exactly why.

When it first came out, my wife and I saw Hop at the movies. A Mexican couple and their little girl were sitting directly behind us. Before the movie began, the three of them were happily chatting, excited and eager to see the show.

When the movie ended, and the lights came up, not one of the three uttered a single word as they gathered their stuff to leave. Heads down, they rose and slowly filed out of their seats like they were leaving a funeral.

What had that little girl just learned?

Mark Cassello, assistant professor of English at Calumet College of St. Joseph, has written a great piece about this movie. He has also launched a Facebook events page, ¡Stop Hop! Protect Children from the Racism of Hop!, which I urge you to join. Please share that page across your social media, and encourage others to also join it. (Twitter hashtag #StopHop.) This movie is just too toxic to allow for business as usual.

Mr. Cassello also made this:

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About John Shore

John Shore (who, fwiw, is straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here), and executive editor of the Unfundamentalist Christians group blog.  (In total John's two blogs receive some 250,000 views per month.) John is also co-founder of The NALT Christians Project, which was written about by TIME,  The Washington Post, and others. His website is JohnShore.com. John is a pastor ordained by The Progressive Christian Alliance. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. And don't forget to sign up for his mucho awesome monthly newsletter.

  • Marise ‘Hightower’ Tuttle via Facebook

    Never saw the movie, but thank you for the enlightenment. Not going to get it now, either.

  • http://www.facebook.com/amandawelling26 Amanda Welling via Facebook

    I didn’t have a problem with this movie. I think sometimes we dig too far into things. A lot of kids movies are racist, especially Disney movies.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      “Dig too far”? It couldn’t have been more obvious. This isn’t a subtle sub-plot of the movie: it’s THE subplot, and runs throughout the movie. And how does “a lot of movies are racist” make it okay for this one to be?

      • Brena

        White people have the privilege of skimming along the surface. But if you are Latino then you are Latino every day. The real question is do we want to be responsible for hammering another nail into the coffin of Latino children’s self-worth? It is annoying how far non-whites dig into messages white people send. It’s almost as if they think it’s their world too and that they should have a say in it as well. Funny how that works.

        It’s also funny how a degraded people might not be the loudest in their own defense. (Being looked down on might do that.) But there is no flaw in the defense of them by anyone else.

    • Markus Ello

      A study replicated the famous Kenneth and Mamie Clark doll experiment with Latino children last year. The original experiment was conducted by Kenneth and Mamie Clark during the 1940s. The social experiment asked a sampling of black and white children about two identical dolls, one with white skin and blonde hair and the other with brown skin and black hair. The children were asked which doll was good, and which was bad. Which was pretty, and which was ugly? You get the deal. The experiment studied children’s ideas about race at the time. Films such as Hop can contribute to a negative self-image in Latino children (the video has English subtitles).

  • http://www.facebook.com/amandawelling26 Amanda Welling via Facebook

    I just didn’t think about the whole race factor when I watched the movie and I don’t think kids are going to either. Their eyes aren’t as open as ours, is what I am trying to say. Should we ban almost every single Disney movie too while we are at it? I just took this movie with a grain of salt. I think there are more important issues to focus on then a movie that came out over a year ago. That’s all.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      Amanda: the movie’s out on DVD March 23. And it would behoove you to think about how or why it is that you somehow failed to notice, or “just didn’t think about” the overt, blatant, ridiculously obvious racism that informed this entire movie.

    • Lymis

      Would it have caught your attention if the ethnic mix was reversed? If everyone had a pronounced Latino or ethnically black accent, and only the character who turned out to be the bad guy sounded white?

      If not, then the fact that you were even able to take it with a grain of salt should be telling you something important about yourself.

      • Amanda

        I don’t know how many other ways I can say it. The way that I seen it is the same way other person who commented on here seen it. The father bunny wanted his son to become the Easter bunny, as it always has been. See Felicia’s comment on this thread.

        I seen this movie for its entertainment value, not to go looking for racial stereotypes.

        • vj

          The shamefulness of the ‘Hop’ story is not that EB Sr wanted to hand over the family business and Junior didn’t want the job. The shamefulness is that, when Junior runs off to do other things, Dad REFUSES to allow his faithful, experienced, well-qualified employee to take over the EB duties on the basis that Carlos is NOT a BUNNY. Which would possibly be fair enough if he then found another BUNNY to do the job (regardless of that bunny’s level of experience, etc). However, Dad then picks an inexperienced, unknown, incompetent NON-BUNNY. There is NO justice in this decision, and the only logical conclusion is that Carlos was disqualified simply because he was a particular *kind* of non-bunny – which is undeniably racist.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

            That’s it, exactly, vj. (And I get why people find it so hard to believe that a movie made today could be anywhere near as blatantly racist as this one is. Usually when people cry “Racist!” you look at the show, or the character, or whatever, and you think, “Well, sure. Kind of. Not that big a deal.” That’s how it is 99% of the time. So people who haven’t seen the movie just naturally assume its racism is of that common caliber. But it’s not. Not even close. The racism in this movie is so obvious, and so overt, and so egregious, that it just defies … sanity, basically. It’s unbelievable—literally, if you haven’t seen it. And practically even if you have.)

          • vj

            I haven’t seen the movie, and don’t plan to (partly your original criticism, partly my very strong aversion to the commercialization of Easter), BUT, it does seem that the producers could pretty easily have come up with a much more uplifting/inclusive story – say, maybe Dad initially rejects Carlos because he’s not a bunny, finds a new *bunny* who seems perfect at first but then proves to be greedy/selfish/hopelessly incompetent, THEN he sees the error of his ways, Dad apologizes to Carlos and turns to Carlos for help, Carlos saves the day, feckless Junior comes home expecting to become the EB, but Dad says ‘sorry, you ran off and Carlos has earned his EB badge; you come and work with him and maybe when he retires you’ll be ready to take over’…

          • Melody

            That’s exactly it. Had the repressed, hard-working Hispanic been recognized and apologized to for the unfairness and given his due reward as a protagonist, the film would have a completely different message. They’re perpetuating the mentality of race and class warfare by presenting the story in its final form.

          • http://www.unchainedfaith.wordpress.com Amy

            I would totally pay full price to see THAT movie with my kids.

      • Markus Ello

        Great point Lymis.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jl.h.linnell Jl Hatlen Linnell via Facebook

    Is that acceptable, though? I wouldn’t say all the cool kids are often the best standard for morality.

  • http://www.facebook.com/amandawelling26 Amanda Welling via Facebook

    No it’s not really acceptable, but this is also the first time I have heard any complaints about Hop. Now take Peter Pan for instance. Now that is a really racist movie, yet it’s one of the most beloved films of all time. Or the Wizard of Oz. Or a dozen other movies I can name.

    • Lymis

      The Wizard of Oz? I try to be sensitive to issues like this. Other than the cast being entirely, possibly painfully, white (other than Toto), where’s the racism?

      Not saying that there aren’t other issues with it, but in my experience, it actually holds up pretty well.

      • Amanda

        Muchkins? Do I really need to say more?

        • Amanda

          It’s not so much racist, but I have a few friends that are little people that refuse to watch The Wizard of Oz because of munchkins.

  • Marise ‘Hightower’ Tuttle via Facebook

    I imagine there would have been more complaints about Hop had EB lost his job.

  • Amy Mitchell via Facebook

    @Marise, I agree. And actually, the racism isn’t subtle at all. When the movie came out, we refused to take our kids to see it just based on the trailer.

  • Drew Montoya via Facebook

    It’s true. We’re all inept and conniving. /rolleyes.

    Thanks for bringing this up, John. I’ll watch that clip when I’m not at work.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jonathanvitale Jonathan Vitale via Facebook

    Looking at the casting – Frank Azaria (of Simpsons fame) as Carlos – I wonder if Frank, himself, didn’t just make a poor choice of accent. If a different accent was chosen would the sub-theme dissappear? Perhaps the producers/directors just didn’t notice what emerged when they applied the Latino accent – negligence/ignorance not outright racism.

    • LSS

      Oh come on, he specializes in playing other accents. He’s armenian and nobody ever makes movies about armenians so he’s always playing some other kind of immigrant or what i would call mediterranean-american types.

    • Markus Ello

      I am trying to reach Hank Azaria for comment on this issue. I don’t think a Latino actor would have performed the script as it is written. What makes Hop seem like more than “negligence” is that the Carlos character reproduces very common stereotypes of Latinos along with the accent. For example, imagine if Hop substituted a female character for Carlos and portrayed her as a blonde, hyper-sexualized bimbo, I would have been equally offended. Likewise, had Hank Azaria voiced a character named Wang and portrayed him as loving photography and driving terribly (see racist depiction of Asians in Foul Play with Chevy Chase and Goldie Hawn), I would have been equally incensed. This was an oversight that suggests that those overseeing the production, marketing, and distribution of Hop were lacking cultural awareness.

      • Joshua

        …what seems like it was meant to be a story of reconciliation between father and son, and friendship, definitely turns into a downplaying of unfortunate stereotyping. I have yet to see this movie, and I don’t really want to… but, what makes everything worse is that Carlos “turns evil” because he was hurt, offended, and turned down after being nothing but loyal and hard working right?

        Does the film deal with that offense? Or does Carlos utterly get defeated and humiliated in the end, forever remembered as the ego-maniacal bad guy?

        Does this teach kids that good people can turn into violent dictators? (Hitler wanted to be an artist and a writer, but he kept getting rejected– let’s not forget that he felt offended by rich, affluent Jews who he’d crossed paths with—Hitler still made the wrong decision, no matter what. But imagine if he’d had a positive experience that changed his mind.)

        Does this movie teach kids that we can do the right thing, by treating others right, BEFORE our offense or negligence hurts someone so badly that they react in an extremely negative way?

        Does this movie deal with the fact that it was the good guys, or Sr. Bunny, who unapologetically created the conflicting situation to begin with? (out of arrogance) Does Sr. Bunny ever realize the error of his ways and treat his workers and Carlos better?

        If in the end, Carlos was apologized to, or reconciled with and he also apologized for his offense– there would be a good underlying message there, instead of a classist/potentially racist one.

        Instead, from the reviews, (from a social-economic perspective) it does look like nepotism is rewarded, sons and buddies of “top execs” always have top place in a company (no matter how selfish, lazy, and undeserving those individuals may be), and that even if you’re (even if unknowingly) destroying the lives of the “little people” in your life, family should always come first.

  • Joshua

    I’ve never seen this, but mostly I just thought it was dumb looking– considering I’m not a fan of Easter Bunny propaganda, especially for my kid’s sake. Too much commercialization, glorification of candy (unhealthy eating), and plus, I don’t want my kid thinking that Easter is just another gift-getting holiday.

    Thanks for letting us know about this. As a person who’s worked warehouse for significant amounts of time, I can tell you from experience that while it’s always a punishable offense for people to be openly racist towards African Americans, racism towards Hispanics and Jews (even to their faces) is an every day occurrence in the American workforce and very little is ever done about it. Even when it is reported to the proper authorities… Sad day for America.

  • Amy Mitchell via Facebook

    But even if there had been no accent to speak of, there’s still the problem of banning the chicken from taking the job because he’s not a rabbit–then hiring a lazy human to do it! So there’s some sort of classism/racism there, even if it isn’t overtly labeled.

    • zenobia

      i am just curious, have you seen the whole movie or done more research, or are you basing this opinion on this post alone?

      whilst i agree that you could be absolutely right, the clip presented about 3 minutes of the film, cherry picking and influencing by putting remarks on the bottom of the screen. again, i have not seen the movie, nor even heard of it till now, i’m just wondering if you have and could point to specific examples of the human being lazy or the reason the chick can’t get the job is only because he is not a rabbit (or “white” as stated in the blog).

      I am not defending this movie in any way- my point is that how can we judge based solely on this post? the opinions of this film are varying from “yes, it’s super racist” to “no, i didn’t see it as racist at all” (with the opinions of whites and latino/as alike). i’m probably not going to see this (no kids, no time), but i am not going to defend anyone’s or form my own opinion about it unless i do more research…. but i am curious as to how others come to their opinions about it.

      • Brena

        Seeing the movie will not change the fact that the person who did the most work and had the most knowledge was laughed at when he asked for a promotion. Sure, he became evil. Yes, the white kid helped stop his evil. But the ridiculousness of the idea that someone knowledgable is eligible for promotion is, at best, classism-flavored.

        • zenobia

          that is your reply? not even seeing the movie and basing an opinion on this? did he become evil or was he evil from the start? i don’t know, i didn’t see the movie. did you? look, i’m in the 99% and i support the occupy movements, and yep, i picked up on the classism for sure, but seeing the movie will actually give you support for your opinions. that is my point.

          this is what is frustrating- people make judgements without gathering all the knowledge- or at the very least, seeing the movie in question. this can be applied to so many things… making judgements without having all the background info– by just seeing/reading what others have to say and forming an opinion based on what is given to a person rather than doing their own research. it’s beyond frustrating. whether this blog entry is right or wrong is besides the point… if we all saw it (and/or did extensive research from unbiased sources- or at the very least, from both sides of the spectrum- seeing the movie would be the best way) and then had an informed discussion, then responses would be valid.

          • zenobia

            let me rephrase that- just seeing the movie would be right. once one saw the movie, then read different views and saw it through different lenses, it would be even better. seeing the movie is essential.

          • Brena

            I saw the movie. You did not. Did the plot line of the latino chick being the most knowledgable change with seeing it or not? That is my response. Seeing the movie will not change the facts as listed in the description. Oh wait, if I watch it again he has a Russian accent. You’re right.

          • zenobia

            all you had to do was say that you saw the movie. you did not state that in your comment. you made an assumption. that is my point. you said above “Did the plot line of the latino chick being the most knowledgable change with seeing it or not?” no, that is not your response. your response should be an actual response. note that you saw the movie, this is what you saw, you had evidence to validate what was presented in the blog and description…. NOBODY SAID ANYTHING about seeing it AGAIN. just say you saw it and you gathered the same ideas as presented in the blog. case closed. way to miss a point.

      • http://www.unchainedfaith.wordpress.com Amy

        No, I didn’t see the whole movie. My husband and I had taken the kids to see something else (can’t recall what at the moment) and saw the trailer. My husband was sitting next to me, open-mouthed. We looked at each other and I said, “Does that seem…” and he finished it for me, “Racist?” And that was JUST from the trailer, which is supposed to show the best parts to entice people to pay to see it. Needless to say, we chose not to take the kids. I am trusting, based on this blog and the other things I’ve read, that my first impression was the right one. We chose not to see it or buy it, just as we have done with many other films. I’m willing to participate in action against this movie, and I would do the same for another film.

        • zenobia

          it makes me really really sad that people are unwilling to fully research something (a, what, 90 minute movie?) before making an assumption and forming a hardened opinion that could be seen as to be based on fact. this is why i got pissed at Rush. Aside from his terrible use of language that completely degraded women, it seemed as though he did absolutely no research as to what Ms. Fluke was talking about (birth control as a medication for cysts (which it is, btw), or that RAPE HAPPENS) and jumping to the whole “oh she’s a whore that just wants everyone to pay for birth control so she can have sex and therefore she shoulg post it online” b.s. he obviously did not read what she said. this is what kills me. i’m not saying if this movie is racist or not, i’m leaving it open to interpretation. if someone saw it, yup, that someone has every right to an opinion about it, but at least state that you are coming from a place of knowledge before assuming anything. Also, if you are going to debate another person on the topic, let the person know you actually saw the film, don’t assume that a person knows based on some ambiguous response you wrote.

          • zenobia

            i really really really trust John’s blog. but this doesn’t mean i am not going to do my own research. I appreciate that you, Amy, were at least willing to state that you read about it other places and formed an opinion even in the face of not seeing the movie. It is just kind of disheartening that you are unwilling to see a 90 minute film if only to be able to say “i saw the film and this is what is saw” rather than “i saw a preview and read on this site and saw a 3 minute clip that said this movie is racist .” granted, you may not have the time, just as i don’t…. but i’m not fighting one way or another. you stated that you are willing to participate in action against this film.

            here’s how i am prepared to handle it. if a friend or relative is going to see it (with or with out kids) i will probably say “k. i have read about that movie. i saw a few clips and there seems to be a racist and classist bent. keep a critical eye open. let me know what you think and perhaps you should watch this flick before you show it to your kids…”

  • Leslie Marbach via Facebook

    Just because a lot of movies previously made are racist and also happen to be fabulous movies doesn’t mean racist movies should continue to be made. Accepting racism in children’s movies perpetuates the environment where racism in general is acceptable, and it’s just not. The same goes for children’s books. Stereotypes based on race and gender are still prevalent and only serves to further those stereotypes.

  • Felicia

    I’m Latina and I wasn’t offended by any racism in this film AT ALL. This is the story that I saw: The Easter Bunny didn’t select Carlos because he wanted to pass the job to HIS SON. And good thing he didn’t, since Carlos turned out to be a major douchecanoe! O’Hare gets to be co-Easter Bunny because he “gets” the spirit of Easter and the mission of bringing joy to children via candy. He’s not looking for Easter Bunny prestige. He was a lost person, unsure of what to do with his life. He found his calling in Easter Bunnying. Then we sing a song that was originally intended as a sexually-tinged double meaning, but this time it’s about actual candy and voilá! Our hero and our villain are clearly defined, the end. And the villain isn’t a villain because he’s Latino. He’s the villain because he is villainous.

    • Amanda

      I couldn’t have said it better myself. That is how I seen the movie as well. I don’t go into movies searching for underlying tones. I would never have thought about racial issues had this post not of been made.

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

        There’s nothing “underlying” about the racism in Hop. It’s as overt as it could possibly be–and it runs for the entire length of the movie.

        • Amanda

          I don’t think everyone is going to pick up on it. I think it’s stretch. If we are talking overt racism, I would pick The Simpsons, or every single movie Rod Snyder ever made, where its blatant and in your face. I never seen the racism in Hop, and I still don’t really see it. So for you it isn’t underlying, but for me, it is. I watched the movie and thought exactly the same way Felicia did.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

            I have no idea why you or Felicia didn’t see the racism that was so astoundingly overt. It wasn’t subtle, or “underlying” by any stretch of the imagination. The ONLY way not to see it is to be really, really determined not to.

          • fully

            It is sad, and exactly the problem, that you don’t see how ‘blatant and in your face’ the racism is. And for the response in another comment that the “the villain isn’t a villain because he’s Latino. He’s the villain because he is villainous.” that is another problem……..kids don’t make that distinction and will grow up to be adults (and it is confirmed for many adults) with the subconscious affirmation that the person with all the attributes of “Carlos” is indeed “villainous”. Not to mention the “uprising” by those damn disgruntled, ungrateful workers. It is subtext, it is subconscious and it will live on in the mind of children as an expectation of roles and behavior. I don’t care what adults see or don’t see in this moment; might be too late for you. But for the incarcerated juvenile offenders I work with I see the insidious effect of this subtext, blatantly displayed, in this movie. I see it both in how they undervalue their achievement and growth and ability to make a new life and how the public assumes their villainy across all circumstances and the forgone conclusion that they cannot be reformed or transformed.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

            THANK YOU, fully.

          • Brena

            There is the fact that when a group is the object of the racism then they, very reasonalby, do not get bothered by the subtle racial messages. Just to live with joy in the world we all choose pick our battles and tend to ignore the non-threatening ones. But, as a white person, who can check out of the race problem almost whenever I want, then I do think it is fine to fight the battle for others. So many responses have said basically that maybe they can’t judge because they are white. I totally disagree. They have less to lose if they wage war against the villifying of racial characteristics and the playing up of harmful stereotypes.

            A lot of people live race. White people get a break from that. All the more reason to lend their energy to the fight. Besides, it is not nearly as much an issue of saving others as it is about calling out the bad behavior in our own race’s world view. If our race is our business, then this movie is white people’s business and they should be offended that it might speak for them.

            I don’t know if this is the best place for my reply, but here it is. :)

    • Markus Ello

      Hi Felicia, I have also written an article about Hop (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mark-cassello/a-stern-reminder-about-th_b_1303181.html). So, you are suggesting that the film is promoting nepotism over merit based promotion? I am not sure if that is an appropriate message to send in American culture either (even though it may more accurately reflect the average workers experience in the American economy). My issue with Hop is not simply that it includes a character named Carlos who has a mock-Spanish dialect. It is that this character is then portrayed using the most frequent stereotypes of Latinos found in American television and film (read this for more info: http://brown-face.com/) and THEN, adding injury to insult, the film rewards the white, slacker character Fred O’Hare. If you view the film again, pay attention to this fact: Carlos and the chicks are constantly working while EB and Fred loaf and galavant. Hopefully, this conversation raises awareness about the portrayals of ALL people in television and film. Americans have been passive consumers of goods and information for far too long. The intimate penetration of media images into every waking crevice of our lives demands us to be more conscientious consumers. Being conscientious consumers means that we are, at the very least, vaguely aware of the forces by which our minds are molded, propagandized, informed, or more often, disinformed. Information–no matter how slickly packaged, adorably cute, and seemingly benign–must be scrutinized. This is not a fun process, but it is a necessary one.

      • http://audioarchives.blogspot.com spinetingler

        “Carlos and the chicks are constantly working while EB and Fred loaf and galavant.”

        Er, anyone given any thought to the idea that that might be a positive portrayal for Carlos and the chicks (band name alert)? As opposed to a “those damn lazy mexicans” stereotype?

        • Brena

          Hard working is good. Hard working and laughably unpromotable is not.

          And the dancing and singing black person stereotype of the 30′s should have been ignored because at least it wasn’t the lazy stupid one?

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

        Markus: I don’t know if you caught it, but I linked to your piece in my post. Great job on that piece.

  • Eirin Hamilton via Facebook

    the argument that the kids are young so won’t pick up on the “subtle” racist storyline is ridiculous. childhood is that crucial time when kids’ very impressionable minds are formed and influenced by society to hold certain biases. Don’t be so naive and think that filmmakers don’t know this or use it to their advantage! take 10 minutes on Nickelodeon to see how advertisers gear every product to the kids! Look at how they have sexualized so much of our kids’ products/films/etc etc! even Halloween costumes (for girls). The racist storyline certainly was not unintentional, as it has been done so long in so many kid’s films. And, YES, maybe you should rethink letting your kids watch Disney. Promoting racism is never ok, even if it’s Mickey himself selling it.

    • Leslie

      Exactly. Kids are smarter than we think and they pick up on EVERYTHING. Literally, within the first 6-8 years of life, kids “download” everything around them, accept it as absolute truth, and form their entire worldview that will likely remain unchanged for the rest of their lives. And, right now, the message that countless kids from minority groups are getting is that they’re not enough. Not good enough. Not smart enough. Not worthy of being “star of the show.” It’s really sad, and I wish I were exaggerating.

      Last year, Anderson Cooper ran a story highlighting a racism study between children of different ethnicities. The results left little doubt that white privilege is alive and well in the 21st century. Kids across all ethnicities believed that lighter skin was an indicator of being “good” while darker skin was “bad.” One little girl even said that her own dark skin was “ugly.” It broke my heart. We need to be WAY more mindful of the messages children are receiving in the media.

      http://ac360.blogs.cnn.com/2010/05/14/study-white-and-black-children-biased-toward-lighter-skin/

  • LSS

    I won’t speak to Latin@s defending the movie, because that is not my place.

    But as a nonhispanic white person myself, and knowing what my Mestizo husband goes through on a daily basis in the form of everything from low expectations to assumptions of incompetence/laziness/untrustworthiness due to their prejudices around his background and his skincolor, i have to say that the fact that some white people didn’t notice that a movie is racist is Part of the Problem, not any kind of a valid argument against your article.

    And i *would* ask, why was the (presumably) only noticeably hispanic character in the movie a villain?

    I’ll be buying my SPA101 students the dubbed-into-spanish version of Puss in Boots so they get to see a Hispanic hero and heroine in cute furry form instead.

    And i think that it is useful to point this stuff out until hollywood ceases to perpetuate racist stereotypes, even though that’s probably going to take Even Longer than your main blogging mission which will presumably continue [until the churches stop hating gays].

  • Jo Davis via Facebook

    There’s a reason a lot of us don’t see racism in things. It’s called white privilege.

    • LSS

      That’s what i meant below. You just said it more efficiently.

    • zenobia

      this is something i agree with.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jonathanvitale Jonathan Vitale via Facebook

    I still don’t think that this movie is deliberately trying to promote a racist agenda. What I think happens is that people get lazy when they create media for kids. We use over-the-top characters for children, which are often stereotypes, because we think kids will find them funny – and many times they do. I’m happy that there is some exposure of this, so we can force media creators to be more creative (and on that note props to Pixar).

  • zenobia

    I have never even heard of the movie, but before i were to make any judgements, i would want to see the movie for myself and form an opinion based on what i saw, as well as taking people’s views and opinions into account.

    It is kind of upsetting that people are somewhat passive about Disney frequently being racist merely because Disney movies have been racist basically since it’s inception… but there are things we can do we can make personal choices to allow kids to see what we deem appropriate and teach our kids about morality, understanding, acceptance and open mindedness… we can boycott if we so desire, we can try to change it…

    But honestly, before making any judgements, i would think it wise to see the whole movie for one’s self.

    • http://rindle.blogspot.com Lyn

      How, exactly, does one boycott a movie and see it for oneself at the same time? Isn’t there room for trusting the judgement of others that you have found in the past to be wise counsel, especially when there are other voices saying the same thing? Where does the must-try-it-for-oneself stop? The label says don’t take with alcohol or operate heavy machinery, but I’m going to have three beers with breakfast and then drive to my job at the machine shop. The weatherman says the temperature is so low you could get frostbite on exposed skin in a minute or less, but I think I’ll troop outside without a coat, hat, or gloves. My best friend who read this book says she thinks it’s a little mature for my ten-year-old because of the graphic description of a murder, but I think I’ll let him read it anyway. The ballet instructor says my daughter is too young to be dancing en pointe but I’m finding a video so she can learn anyway. The Southern Poverty Law Center says this is a white supremacist group, but I think I’ll drop by a meeting anyway.

      Here’s the thing. Some things you can try for yourself and no one gets hurt. Don’t believe me that dill pickle chicken liver ice cream isn’t worth trying? Go for it. But some things result in harm. Supporting a racist movie with your money so you can see it for yourself does harm. There are times to accept wise counsel. Now, that doesn’t mean, “John Shore got a letter from his cousin that says his girlfriend’s hairdresser’s baby-sitter’s niece’s fiance’s maiden auntie’s neighbor says she read somewhere on the Internet that P&G gives 20% of their profits to the First Reformed Church of Satan.” But when someone you trust says, “I’ve seen this movie and watched the reaction of the affected minority after seeing it, and you should not be supporting this movie with your money,” isn’t it a bit of a slap in the face to go, “Well, I’m going to go give them more money to see if you’re right”?

  • Brena

    As for the “it’s just a silly movie” attitude and “it doesn’t really mean anything” defense then I present this argument about accidentally communicating harm to a latino child’s identity:

    Mat 12:36 “But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. –Jesus

    In the light of that verse we might learn to be careful Christians. Grace covers your efforts not your lazy.

    And the idea that you can ignore the cultural damage your participation adds to is answered by this:

    Mat 7:2 “For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. –Jesus

    So, if you judge the bad stereotypes and oppression that is encouraged as just “meaningless” then on that day of judgement you might be suprised at the standard of measurement that is used for you. Sure, the contemporary Christian is beginning to understand that they have to be less judgemental about consenting adults in love. If we judge same sex marriage as sending people to hell then Jesus hints that our sex life in our marriage will become a determining factor in our worthiness, or not, for heaven. If we judge that racism is okay if it is just “in fun, for kids” then we may have to answer in the white supremicist group on judgement day.

    But, whatever the defense of this is, I know one thing: defending this is not loving your neighbor as yourself, right Cracker?

    • http://thethreews.wordpress.com Ken Leonard

      Brena, you’re a genius. I just thought I’d mention that.

      Brilliant comment.

    • vj

      “Grace covers your efforts not your lazy.”

      THIS should be on a bumper sticker!

      • http://rindle.blogspot.com Lyn

        I agree. This is an awesome turn of phrase.

  • Diana Avery via Facebook

    “I just didn’t think about the whole race factor when I watched the movie and I don’t think kids are going to either.” Actually, that’s the problem. They won’t think about it. They’ll just quietly absorb the message and it will become a part of their subconcious assumptions about how life works.

  • http://www.facebook.com/amandawelling26 Amanda Welling via Facebook

    My whole point was that this isn’t the only movie that has underlying racial/social class tones. It’s hard for me to think about kids movies in particular that aren’t filled with the same sort of thing. My nieces and nephews watched this movie and loved it, and they definetely know right from wrong. I just don’t think that by watching a movie will suddenly make a kid a racist. That is kind of like saying that if kids play violent video games, they will grow up to be violent. I know I’m in the minority here, and that is okay. I think that if people don’t want to watch Hop or other movies like Hop, that’s their perogative. I guess my main question would be, if Hop is so bad, why not pick on the million other movies as well? The two that come to mind are Wizard of OZ and Peter Pan. I’m native american, so I find Peter Pan especially offensive, but I can also see why people really love Disney’s version of it.

    • Brena

      If we had a time machine we could pick on those movies. Today they are often on TV for free because they just don’t have the box office pull. Today was made for today’s choices. Nice to know you wouldn’t have cared in the 40′s, 50′s, and 60′s either because you make the choice to not be bothered when the opportunity to make it comes along today.

      • Amanda

        I think you are misunderstanding my point. I don’t have a problem with picking on Hop if you feel like it is racist. I personally don’t see how its racist, but I can see how other people think it is. I just didn’t see the racism when I watched it. There are literally hundreds of movies that are racist or could be considered racist by someone, and I think if people look hard enough, especially in comedies and children’s movies, you can find racism is just about every movie out there today. It’s a personal opinion. You don’t have to agree with me, and that is okay. I guess I just don’t understand the pin-pointing of Hop when there are so many other new movies that are just as bad or worse.

        • LSS

          It’s just because it’s going to be in so many easter baskets if people think it’s a nice movie.

          I’m with you on bashing disney for their abysmal record. I almost don’t watch their movies except the shrek line because i like the whole Other Becomes Hero idea, and the storyline that the princess changed TO an ogress and then was happy being her real self.

          • http://www.unchainedfaith.wordpress.com Amy

            Actually, that supports the no Disney thing. I think Shrek is Dreamworks, no? It’s not Disney, at any rate.

            Not meant as a criticism. We don’t do a whole lot of Disney either. I’m not proud of this, but it’s not because of the racism. It’s because of the horrible way women are portrayed in nearly all of them. They are skinny fashion models, most of whom would like nothing more than a big, handsome man to come along and rescue them from their awful plight. Belle from Beauty and the Beast would be an exception, but she falls into the OTHER Horrible Female Stereotype: Emotional rescuer, who thinks that if she loves her man enough he will change from a volatile potential abuser into a gentle, loving husband.

        • Brena

          I understand your point. The problem is so big so “tsk tsk” at it and then basically don’t pick a battle and get working at being part of the solution. Do nothing in particular is what you recomend in recognition of the wide spread problem. You have been very clear.

    • Valerie

      I think I understand your point about watching a movie does not make a kid racist. I grew up watching Song of the South which definitely had racist undertones if not blatantly talking about it but I don’t have a racist attitude. I make sure my kids understand racism and how it is wrong in any situation. I say enjoy a movie for what it is and open that discussion at home.

  • LSS

    I’m also disturbed by the apparent anti-99%ness of the movie. Would that be accurate? I haven’t seen it and can’t view the video right now, so i need some input about that assumption.

    Not that the hopelessness of the working classes’ position or an anti-labor-rights viewpoint would be disconnected from racism, because guess who suffers more from those abuses?! Disproportionately the Brown element of the 99%.

    • Brena

      Good point.

  • http://www.synergebooks.com Annie Nutt

    Disney movies are often seemingly accidentally racist. For example, the movie with Shaq as a genie was derisive to Hispanic people and Arabic people (otherwise, all the young gangsters wouldn’t have been latin). The Princess and the Frog had people talking like they had come right out of a racist movie. The only redeeming quality to the latter movie was the music, and it wasn’t that good. Just because the racism is shifted away from black people and onto latin and arabic people doesn’t mean it isn’t racist or ugly.

    • Pamela

      Accidentally racist is the most subversive kind.

      Disney does not make accidents, they make carefully plotted moves.

      (and yes, I meant to type ‘moves’, not ‘movies’)

    • Ashley C

      Okay okay okay, I can get behind most of these movies being racist, but Princess and the Frog? Have you (or whoever is critiquing it as racist) ever BEEN in the Bayou? They aren’t talking right out of a racist movie, they’re speaking in deep south and cajun dialects. Big difference (especially since many Cajuns are white).

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

        man, I’m grateful for you today, Ashley C.

        • Ashley C

          Aww, thanks, John!

      • laura

        I actually know one of the actors from Princess and the Frog, and he was born and raised on the Bayou. The accent is an intensification of his own, but in no way is it racist; that’s how good ole boys from Louisiana talk.

      • http://www.synergebooks.com Annie Nutt

        I’m sorry; the Princess and the Frog always gets one of my friend Courtney mad. (I didn’t see the correlation at first, either, but figured that if it made Courtney mad, there was probably something wrong with it.) He doesn’t like Sarah Silverman, either, even though I keep trying to explain that she’s a shock jock who isn’t actually racist, just mislead by a common practical joke. (That one’s a long story and involves the comedy writing handbook saying that racist jokes are okay, when actually those jokes are scientifically not funny. I can only assume that this is a practical joke on comedians trying to improve their art.) Admittedly, though, I’ve never been to the bayou, and I’m not sure if Courtney has, either.

        • Ashley C

          As someone who has both with a world reknown dialect coach and was raised in Lousiana, I can assure you that the accents and peppering of Cajun phrases in the language are some of the most authentic I’ve ever seen in cinema. It truly is a culture thing, not a race thing.

          Also, I know the rest of the country doesn’t usually realize this, but (as I said before) most true cajuns are white, what with the being descended from the French and all.

          So, you can tell Courtney I personally give him permission to sit back and enjoy the zydeco because the fireflies are probably white. :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/amandawelling26 Amanda Welling via Facebook
    • http://www.sparrowmilk.blogspot.com Shadsie

      I tried looking in on that site, but the ads are very intrusive. Pop up and push the screen down when I’m trying to read… ugh! I couldn’t go past #49 without wanting to murder the ads with a rusty spoon so I had to quit the page. Is there any way to disable the stupid ads so I can actually view the slideshow in peace?

      • LSS

        It automatically gave me the mobile version which doesn’t do that.

        See if this will open on a real computer, though?

        http://m.complex.com/pop-culture/2010/01/the-50-most-racist-movies/

        • LSS

          Found it a worthwhile read. Probably better if you view all the sample videos. I hadn’t seen most of the movies in the list, so i probably should have, but i was reading it near a sleeping husband.

  • Cat Fizer-Rau via Facebook

    Amanda, what do you find racist about the Wizard of Oz and Peter Pan? I just want to be clear on your perspective. Perhaps you bring up a valid point: if we are going to hate on Hop, why not go all out? Although, I do think there is a difference when we can apply racist attributes to a movie and when a movie is blatantly being racially destructive.

  • http://www.facebook.com/amandawelling26 Amanda Welling via Facebook

    The Wizard of Oz isn’t so much racist as it is offensive because of the munchkins. I use to work with challenged people and the head of the department banned the movie because he found it offensive. Peter Pan is extremely racist because of the whole Native American scenes where… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y_at9dOElQk&feature=player_embedded

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      Amanda: it’s hard to believe that you’re actually arguing that we shouldn’t be outraged at the blatant racism of a movie made today because, after all, they also made racist movies 60 years ago.

    • Lymis

      What was offensive about the Munchkins? The book the movie was based on made it clear that they were tiny people and the studio cast little people in the roles. Other than their staggeringly odd fashion sense and ability to burst into 4 part harmony as a community at the drop of a house, what about their portrayal was offensive?

      Or was it just their existence that doesn’t sit well?

      • LSS

        I would guess it was the fact that they were playing a sort of other species instead of being regular people? Not sure, though.

        Some of them seem to have enjoyed the experience.

        http://www.amazon.com/Short-Sweet-Times-Lollipop-Munchkin/dp/1581825439

        I would want to read more accounts before knowing whether Little People generally view this movie well or badly.

        In this (outside) account, it seems like they were treated as even more alien than their characters.

        http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/film/starsandstories/5949331/The-Oz-odyssey-The-Wizard-of-Oz-at-70.html

        Somewhere around the middle of the article.

        • Lymis

          If the complaint was that the actual actors were treated abysmally, that would be a completely valid argument and discussion – and one that as far as I know would have merit, but even that would have to be balanced against how everyone else in the 1920′s film industry was treated – treating minor players like cattle was pretty common.

          But that wasn’t the complaint raised. It was that Munchkins are offensive, and make the movie inappropriate for modern audiences. To which I repeat, “Huh?”

  • http://www.facebook.com/amandawelling26 Amanda Welling via Facebook

    @Cat that is all I was really trying to say. If we are going to pick on one, pick on all. Geez, Disney is just overloaded with blatant racism. They make enough crap to talk for days on end.

    • Ashley C

      Yeah, but Disney isn’t releasing and marketing a ton of racist movies made over the past 20 years in 10 days. The point isn’t just to complain about racism, it’s to WARN PARENTS so they know what kind of movie it is before letting their children watch it.

  • http://www.sparrowmilk.blogspot.com Shadsie

    Haven’t seen the film – just the clip there with the chick wanting to help and getting laughed at…

    Isn’t that like a reverse of Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer? Seriously – that legend/Montgomery Ward promotional story/cute claymation movie had the outcast character, the picked upon, lonely reindeer offer to help save the holiday and the big boss Santa said “Yeah!I could totally use your help! ” and Rudolf saved Christmas and everyone loved him – and he had a great job as lead sled-deer ever since.

    A hardworking chick offers to bail out the Easter Bunny’s butt and save Easter and gets laughed at and derided because he’s not the right race/species. Huh?

  • Shelley Krasean Flavell via Facebook

    Amanda- read White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack. (You can find it a lot of places on the Internet.)

    • zenobia

      that is a great read and very eye opening. it is so wrong that we are not taught about “whiteness” and what exactly that means and implies in school or by our parents…

    • LSS

      That’s been on my “meant to read” list for a little while. Thanks for the reminder.

  • http://www.facebook.com/amandawelling26 Amanda Welling via Facebook

    I’m not arguing that we shouldn’t be outraged. I think everyone is missing my point. What I’m arguing is that we are pin-point just one of hundred of racist movies. I think that the post would have been more effective if it had included other examples of racism in movies, instead of just Hop. Like I said before, I didn’t see the racism in Hop until this post, now I kind of do. I think there are other, better, examples though of movies where it is SO obvious that it is racism. Dumbo is another prim example. Remember the crows? Or maybe something more modern like White Chicks, Aladdin, or The Love Guru.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      Amanda: So your point is that instead of writing (and thusly warning parents) about the blatant, overt, movie-long racism of “Hop,” a huge movie that is coming out in DVD in 10 days (timed, obviously, for kiddie-friendly Easter), I should have written generally about all movies that contain racism. Wow. Way to .. find something to complain about. That’s like saying I shouldn’t complain if there’s a cockroach in my soup because bugs are a problem everywhere.

      • Amanda

        It seems to me that you seem quick to dismiss other movies with similar issues just because they are not as hot right now. The last time I checked Disney triumph of all other similar companies. Just look at what they have going on all around the world with their theme parks, shops, cruises, mass merchandising, advertising. They are completely relevant and while Hop will become a fad, Disney movies have remained strong for decades and will continue to stay strong. Hop is timed to come out for Easter because of its content, its not going to stay at the top. I would prefer to tackle the giant of racism over to fad that is Hop that is going to fade away.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

          So you want to fight the “giant of racism”—but persist in asserting that writing this post was poor judgment on my part. Gotcha.

        • LSS

          I don’t see where John Shore or anybody agreeing with this post is in favor of downplaying reaction to other racist movies.

          it’s just that this one is really seasonal. I imagine there would come a moment when he would blog about other racist movies when it was topical or when it struck his writing buttons or whatever it is that makes people need to write about a certain thing at a certain moment.

        • http://thethreews.wordpress.com Ken Leonard

          Amanda, I have an idea.

          Instead of spending so much time sort-of defending “Hop” just because there are other bad movies, why not bring some other ones forward?

          Perhaps it could even be a running topic on the Unfundamentalist page. If I understand you correctly, then you’ve kind of worked yourself into a position you don’t even support. I think that you don’t like racism in movies, but think that there are many movies which warrant attention. I don’t think that you’re denying that “Hop” is one of them, but want some attention spent on other ones.

          If I get you correctly, there’s almost nobody here who will disagree with you. But it’s sort of like you’re arguing that you shouldn’t get a speeding ticket because other people speed on the highway all the time. I don’t think that that’s really your point.

        • Markus Ello

          Yes, Disney films are iconic as is Gone With the Wind (which perpetuates the Mammy stereotype). However, Disney has actually censored a number of their films over the years. Song of the South is no longer for sale in the U.S. Also, the film “Make Mine Music” edited out negative depictions of Southerners (a Hatfield and McCoy feud) that were in the original film. Disney has demonstrated some flexibility on this issue.

      • Brena

        LOL “cockroach in my soup”, classic. :)

    • zenobia

      i think John’s purpose of presenting this movie at this time is because it is going to be highly marketed to kids and adults. if this is racist/classist, parents can be informed before purchasing, or watch it with a critical eye before showing their kids. becasue it is more relevent right now than Dumbo (there will be more people watching this movie than there will be people watching/purchasing Dumbo at this moment in time), it is important to bring attention to this specific movie rather than movies in general. then we can open up a dialog about racism/classism/sexism/anyism in the entertainment industry in general, or at least in kids movies (including movies of the past and present). we can stop this movie before it gets into too many hands, or open up people’s eyes to what might be going on in the film (i have not seen the movie, therefore i will not say if it is or isn’t- i’m just looking at the situation as a whole and guessing the reasoning behind discussing Hop as opposed to all racist kids movies).

    • Markus Ello

      Amanda, I see your point. However, the way to combat an issue such as this is by picking a target. If you reflect upon the Civil Rights Movement, the bus boycott began with one bus company in Montgomery, Alabama in 1955. The bus company was one of hundreds of institutions implementing Jim Crow practices, but a group of citizens decided that they would start with that one company and that one issue. Admittedly, the propagation of racist themes through children’s movies is definitely not a problem on the order of the Jim Crow laws of the South; however, if we can create a dialogue in the culture AND get Universal Pictures to more carefully consider the audience of its films, then we have accomplished something.

  • Cat Fizer-Rau via Facebook

    The fact that Disney makes offensive movies is not really a new concept. I doing think it’s wrong to bring to attention one destructive movie at a time.

  • Cat Fizer-Rau via Facebook

    But I agree that we shouldn’t okay old racist movies because they were made 60 years ago. But I think we can make a difference for future movies that are made by objecting to the bad ones today.

  • http://allegro63.wordpress.com sdgalloway

    I am less and less a fan of films and television programming geared to kids. Every now and then a great one will show up…Up, for example, was a story that kids and grownups could relate to. It was also one of those that didn’t see the massive franchising that is not only common, but now accepted. (how that came to be remains, at least for me, a mystery)

    Hop was no exception in the quest for someone to take a well used theme, change up the setting and characters, and see how much cutsy stuff could be sold, hopefully before the movie hit theaters.

  • Shelley Krasean Flavell via Facebook

    A big part of the evil in racism exists where people say they ‘just don’t see it’.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      exactly

    • Jack Heron

      More than that – a big part of the evil exists where people *genuinely* don’t see it. I would imagine that there are plenty of people who honestly (and, I would agree with John, mistakenly) saw no racism in this film and simply accepted that Carlos taking over is self-evidently ridiculous without consciously or maliciously thinking ‘Hispanic. Therefore ridiculous’. They just saw an unsuitable person for the job – because years of stereotyping have associated the name and accent with unsuitability so strongly that their minds can leap over the racist reasoning and hit the conclusion without knowing how they got there.

      • Diana A.

        This is true.

        • zenobia

          exactly jack!- critical thinking skills, evidence, informed opinions- it feels completely lacking in many areas…. when judging anything… this whole line of response to this whole post is fascinating.

          what are we desensitized to? what is shocking? what influences people and how does it influence them? how do people form opinions and how/why do they fight for what they believe in? why do they believe in the things that they do? why stand up for one thing and not for another? if the tables were turned, what would the response be or even, how would the opposite be represented and responded to? what is being assumed and not explicitly stated?

          it’s eye opening, it causes self reflection, it is interesting and inspiring .

  • Angela

    I would have to see the movie myself in order to spread your message. The huge problem is that I’m not going to spend $10 to watch a kids movie with screaming and sick kids in the audience.

  • BMac

    Its so hard to pick through the programming aimed for kids to find anything that’s appropriate. Growing up my brother and I loved Peter Pan, old Looney Tunes cartoons, and other overtly racist programs. I still don’t know why my parents let us watch it. I guess when you’re white you see the obvious racism as silly (although I do not). Now, racism in the media is an even bigger problem for me and I notice it more because my child may be exposed to things that are telling her that she isn’t worth as much as someone else because of her ethnicity. So many things used to fly under the radar for me as someone growing up with white privlage. Now, attempting to see things through my daughter’s or husband’s eyes I see how much accepted racism there is all forms of media.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      exactly. thanks, BMac.

  • Susanne

    Just wanted to correct Cat’s post above. Hop is not a Disney film; it is a Universal Pictures film. Disney’s branding is too strongly tied to their “kid film” image that I don’t think they’d have made this movie. Someone would have spoken up along the way and said “Woah.”

    My kids make movies. You can see some of them at the links below. This is something we’ve talked about because if he depicts anyone with an accent how do you make sure it isn’t making fun of them? You have to show personality traits for characterization. When does showing a personality trait become stereotyping? The third one on the list featured fighting ninjas. There were lots of “Hiyah!” sounds while swords clashed. Is a ninja a negative Asian stereotype? There is an oddity of globalization and our real, sincere and necessary efforts to try to be better to each other and various groups that the only person left that you can safely have be a “bad guy” is a white southerner or a thick accented German.

    It baffles me that my son’s $250 budget films would have quality control discussions about racism and stereotyping in the planning stages but a movie with a $63 million budget somehow didn’t set aside any time for that. Really?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-FcQ9SUXANo&feature=channel

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-GGViuaHMYs&feature=channel

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=agdCdl6NI6Y&feature=channel

    • Brenda R

      You can make fun of the white male southerner because they truly don’t care what other people think about them. These men are comfortable in their own skin, and laugh about it when they see themselves being sterotyped, so feel free. I’m sure one day it’s bound to become an issue, but I don’t see that happening any time soon. I would doubt they’d like to be lumped in with the thick-accented Germans, but no worries. Of course, stereotyping is wrong on so many levels, but we don’t need to talk about that. Everyone knows the danger of stereotyping anyone at all. Ever.

  • Leslie

    It’s always a bummer to see racism in the media, particularly when certain politicians (ahem, mentioning no names) do little to disguise their own racism, sexism, classism, and homophobia. In a *children’s movie*, though? That’s really sad. I have no doubt that kids from the Hispanic communities are picking up all kinds of racist garbage from the news, movies, and their own politicians. But, a *children’s movie* should at least pretend to be above all that.

    “Hop” isn’t a movie my family would ever see – my youngest sibling just turned 18 – but I’m more than happy to put it on my “movies to never see” list anyway. Hopefully, enough raised voices of protest will get the message across. Racism is just not cool.

  • http://www.sparrowmilk.blogspot.com Shadsie

    I think it is interesting how one starts noticing things once one becomes more aware of people and their struggles. For example, over on one of my fandom message boards – for the Legend of Zelda game series, someone started a topic thread asking “Would you like a(n openly gay) character in Zelda?” I started in answering how it might make the game-world setting a more diverse/inclusive place, then I realized WAIT NO! Would I want to *trust* the creators of this character http://www.zeldawiki.org/Ghirahim to handle it *sensitively*? (To be fair, our dear demon-lord there is probably technically sexless because of the nature of what he is and, according to an interview was given a “feminine” quality to be a counter to more masculine villains in the series, but still, he has this “camp” vibe that’s hard to shake) – Skyard Sword is a wonderful game for the series, by the way, I just have issues with that character.

    As for racist Disney movies of my childhood… since those have been mentioned – I must say I didn’t even notice the implications of the crows in Dumbo while growing up, but now that I do, they leave a bad taste. It’s no reason for parents to forbid their kids from watching Dumbo, since the story has many endearing and redeeming qualities, it’s just that once kids become aware of history, parents’ pointing certain things out may be in order.

    (And then there are things from yesteryear that really are best left forgotten. My guy and I, having the interest that we have in vintage animation and animation in general once looked up the infamous short “So’ White And Dee Sebben Dwarves” and… couldn’t get five minutes into it without turning it off. I mean, we went into it knowing that “this is a racist cartoon from back in the day” but… uh, but even that knowledge couldn’t get us to the point of handling it). And there’s a reason why Cartoon Network will not show the old shorts of Bugs Bunny in blackface.

    If a film doesn’t have enough redeeming qualities to it, or the racism is a CENTRAL PLOT, then, I think it’s very fair to warn parents about it. Thinking about just the plot-outline here, I think even if Carlos was “Carl” it would still come across as racist because in fantasy-fiction, species = race much of the time. The only way this could work is if Carlos were Carl, were an underbunny instead of a chick/different species, and then, the spin on it would still be a Family Unfriendly Aseop about how no matter how hard you work or how good you are at what you do, the boss’ son is going to take it away from you (which has the sting of real life on it… but for many parents is still only slightly better than the racism). As is, the Unfortunate Implications are so thick I could see them just from reading a TV Tropes description and watching a short clip.

    • Allie

      I noticed the moral you pointed out, that the boss’s son gets it no matter how hard anyone else works, even more than the racism, because that’s a moral that applies to all children of all races who don’t happen to be bosses’ sons. And it’s true. But it shouldn’t be taught that it’s good that it’s true.

      Unfortunately it’s not rare for the villain to be a member of a minority, because writers tend to cast the unfamiliar as evil, and most writers are white. But this seems so blatant that I wonder how any test market let it get through. Surely they noticed what they were doing?

      • http://www.sparrowmilk.blogspot.com Shadsie

        Alternate Character Interpretation says that maybe Mr. Bunny is the real villain and this is a Villain Wins story – and no one noticed…hmm.

        I almost want to watch this stupid thing now if I can find the film for free (I don’t want to ask my guy to download it because I’d be embarassed)… but maybe if it shows up on TV… JUST because now I’m tempted to write an epic Alternate Character Interpretation fanfic that pits Carlos as the Hero of the Chick-Revolution and Mr. Rabbit as the emobidment of Corporate Greed or something. And in the end, kids around the world are happier with an Easter Chicken, especially all the farm kids who know how nature works. And because chickens rule.

        (Well, at least I think chickens are adorable as well as tasty).

        If I were familiar with canon, I know I could totally do it. I wrote an Alternate Charcter Interpretation fic for the game Shadow of the Colossus in which the sealed “demon” entity character was actually a good guy. Just because he’s a god of death doesn’t mean he’s bad! He just took care of the passage of souls!

        • Diana A.

          Hey Shadsie! Go for it! Maybe you can find “Hop” at the library or something. I think your spin on this story would be very interesting.

  • http://nopartyline.blogspot.com Brian Meadows

    Unfortunately, this is the kind of thing that happens too often in our world. How can this film be reworked so that racism loses, albeit not without a hard struggle?

  • http://www.facebook.com/deborah.doehr.kim Deborah Doehr Kim via Facebook

    Has to be a bunny, not a chick. But then another species (human, male, white) is named co-Easter Bunny. Uh huh, couldn’t possibly be racist. *rolls eyes*

  • http://www.facebook.com/cathy.elings.sysel Cathy Elings-Sysel via Facebook

    Huh???

  • http://www.facebook.com/cathy.elings.sysel Cathy Elings-Sysel via Facebook

    You have got to be kidding me!!

  • Will

    And in a related story; Jesus wept.

    • Diana A.

      Like!

  • http://www.mdarlings.com Maggie Hames

    John–last April your piece on Hop inspired me to do my own piece. I quote/reference your piece here (from April): http://www.mdarlings.com/2011/04/run-away-bunnies.html

  • Aliza Worthington via Facebook

    Gross, gross, gross. Forgive me for being out of the loop, but was there outrage when the movie came out in the theaters?

  • Ken Leonard via Facebook

    Aliza, John posted about it then, too.

  • Susan

    You know, I just thought that by seeing the commercial. Although I admit, I was seeing it more in terms of “racist wealthy rabbit favors spoiled, inexperienced child over capable, experienced, right-hand working-class chicken (with unexplained pituitary issues that keep him frozen in weirdly eternal just-hatched fluffiness).

    It IS disturbing, and wrong. And what makes it even more sickening is that it reflects SO disturbingly the mind set of the wealthy executives that green-lighted the project: “badly spoiled, feckless son of wealthy industrialist “discovers” his “true” destiny by accepting the top position at a company he has never even CARED about, while the (lower class, lower status species or race) guy who gave his life to help build it is vilified for even SAYING he wants the job? ” Makes you wonder about the home life of the studio execs as well, no?

    • Melody

      Good point, Susan. In one perspective or another, it is sending a terribly warped message to children, whether about class, race, or overall morality.

  • Melody

    Wow, I don’t think I had even heard of this film before today. Don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. One thing is for sure: if if it is obviously perpetuating the idea of WASP male as the protagonist and Hispanic worker as the antagonist, and/or, as my ultra-con dad says, trying to take over the country,” then you can be sure I will mke efforts to discourage people viewing it. Especially children, as its target audience. (If I didn’t know any better, I would think, based on the premise you described, it was Republican propaganda, given the current political climate.)

  • Diana Avery via Facebook

    @ Aliza–As Ken said, John did post on it then, but I don’t remember there being universal outrage. Maybe I’m wrong?

  • Nina E.

    This movie didn’t do too well in the theaters and I didn’t take my own child to see it because everything I read about it said it wasn’t very good and was a waste of time and money. Now to read that it’s not just a bad moved, but and *evil* movie, makes me glad we didn’t watch it when it was out.

  • Cynthia Anne Womack

    I wonder if the film will be any more palatable when it is re-done for foreign markets. ‘Carlos’ becomes ‘Hans’ or ‘Charlot’ or ‘Jian Li’ or ‘Avram’ and speaks with the voice and idiom of the local heavies. Does he still read as an ‘unfit’ Hispanic underling or does he become as racially neutral as Cinderella’s step-sisters? It would be interesting to have this villainous bird cast with the same sort of plummy voice dubbed for Harry Potter’s Severus Snape. He might even get a gender switch and be voiced as a future hen by the heroines who do roles originally performed by Glenn Close,Angela Lansbury,Helen Mirren,Judith Densch,Susan Sarandon,Sigourney Weaver,et al. Any change of this type would still be problematic but it would make the antagonist’s ‘evil’ be about his individual character rather than his racial or cultural profile.


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