Woah. This thread has taken off I wrote a whole long post but didn’t have time to finish it, but now it seems out of date, so I’ll start again.
I think we can all agree that racism is bad, and the past was racist, and racism is still a thing now. My conundrum is how to approach that past racism (and sexism, and other isms) which is prevalent in a wide range of older media that I’d otherwise consider valuable.
I’m coming at it from 2 viewpoints: As a parent considering the impact of said media on children, and as an adult considering the appropriateness of media that I’d otherwise find enjoyable or culturally important.
I think I consider media for my kids more closely than some, because they’re growing up in Japan and yet I want them to input western media. But western media isn’t widely available here, so I have to go out of my way to look for it, get access to it and put it in front of them.
Possibly if we were in the UK then I wouldn’t need to give this so much thought… they’d just consume whatever was on TV or whatever their mates were consuming.
Actually, while current events have made racism a more visible issue, the main one I’ve been having problems with more regularly has been sexism… or if not always sexism then the general (I would say) dated portrayal of females in lots of media, or their just general absence.
(But I think the same issues apply to racism and similar topics. )
(Eg: I just looked up some lists of top 20 80s kids movies. In 5 lists, the only ones I spotted with main female characters were The Little Mermaid (she gives up her voice to get a man) and Labyrinth (ok!) )
It’s the same with a lot of older kids TV shows, and with classic books. Books tend to separate more clearly into ‘for boys’ or ‘for girls’, though I’m not sure that’s a good thing. But even then, the girls often tend to fall into stereotypical roles (eg cooking, cleaning) and even the ‘girl power’ books / shows tend to be surprisingly often all about how to get the cute boy.
I think the current generation of parents realise it’s an issue, because there’s a large number of books along the lines of Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls which actively highlight that women can be great, or can do things like science or politics.
(There’s also the dadification of games, as more and more game developers are dads, who want some games they can play with their daughters which involve something other than being rescued by mario).
But, similar to the Peter Pan Indians conundrum, I wonder if it’s good or bad to introduce the issue. For example, the aforementioned Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls is full of stories about how “Despite being told that women couldn’t be xxx, she didn’t give up…”. And I read this to my daughter and I wonder if she’s thinking “Yeah! She didn’t let the men tell her what to do!” or “Oh! Apparently there are lots of things women aren’t allowed to do”.
Given that my daughter is unlikely to ever encounter a Native American, did highlighting the outdated tropes in the movie have any real benefit? Or did it just introduce something negative that she didn’t need to be aware of?
(Maybe she’s a bit too young, but after using it as an opportunity to try and explain the history, she’s now declared that 'Indians sounds much cooler than Native Americans! I’m going to call them that!" and is being awkward about it.)
Also, even considering that a lot of the portrayals of Native American or African or other cultures in older movies are a little iffy, I can’t help but wonder if there’s value in at least encountering other cultures. Before watching Peter Pan, she wasn’t even aware that cultures other than English and Japanese really existed.
Reading some previous comments, I think I do agree that on balance it’s probably better to address the issues than to ignore them, but also maybe that it’s necessary to pick your battles as you can’t address every issue.
Anyway, this has gotten too long and rambling.(and I didn’t even get to part 2!)