Disney says it’s dismantling a famous scene in its “Pirates of the Caribbean” ride at its Disneyland theme park because the robotic characters in it sent a “sexist” message, and they’d prefer a more egalitarian display.
The scene in question, a “Bride Auction,” where, according to the Daily Breeze, “captive, tied-up women are auctioned off as brides, presumably to pirates,” is sexist and anachronistic, Disney says, and has made some guests uncomfortable.
When “Pirates” re-opens, instead of seeing women lined up to be sold to the highest bidder — including a voluptuous red-haired lady clearly enthusiastic about the idea — guests will see an all-female pirate horde looting a city, with the same red-haired woman leading the way.
Disney fans are mixed on the change.
“Disneyland needs to reflect the times, and it seems to me this is the time to change it,” said one blogger whose posting on “MiceChat,” a Disney fan forum, made it into the Daily Breeze. “It’s uncomfortable even for me to see women being sold into bondage and human trafficking. I can’t even imagine what little girls think about this. It seems to me that Disney was just ahead of the curve on all this ‘Me Too’ movement, because they announced this change last summer.”
Indeed, Disney did announce the change last summer at its official fan convention, D23, but at the time there were no official dates for the change — and the audience response was so unenthusiastic, fans weren’t sure Disney would actually go through with it. After mentioning the change, “Disney fans started booing.”
Unofficial Disneyland historian David Koenig told media, “The bride auction is being removed because Disney is lily-livered. No one is really offended by animatronic pirates acting lusty. It’s in-character silliness. I don’t advocate gunplay, thievery, alcoholism or sexism, but I’m still able to enjoy a show in which pirates behave like pirates.”
It’s also not clear that portraying women as vicious, merciless, thieves and pirates is much of an improvement in terms of gender equality (other than, perhaps, to say that women can be just as nasty as men).
This isn’t the first time Disney has changed the “Pirates of the Caribbean” ride to be more “relevant.” In 1997, they switched out a scene where pirates were chasing wenches because it implied “the women would soon be assaulted.” Now the ride shows pirates chasing a woman for her booze, not her . . . um . . . booty. When the movie, “Pirates of the Caribbean” premiered, Disney added several animatronic versions of Johnny Depp’s Captain Jack Sparrow to the ride as well.
“Pirates” will close for refurbishment on April 23. It’s expected to reopen in early June.