Wednesday, March 18, 2020

What Were They Thinking? - A "Politically Correct" Pirates of the Caribbean (1997 and 2018)

Today is the 53rd Anniversary of Disneyland's Pirates of the Caribbean! In honor of the anniversary, let's go back to 1997 and take a look at some newspaper articles, about Disney's first major altering of the attraction.

This first article is from January 1997 and talks about the changes that were being made, 23 years ago:

This next article was also written during the refurbishment:

And this one was written in March of 1997, after the attraction had reopened:

Here's a link to a short news story about the 1997 reopening of Pirates of the Caribbean and the response from guests.

If you look closely in that video, you will see three pirate figures and at least three animal figures, which were all being added to the attraction at that time (and were all removed when the attraction underwent another rehab in 2006, for the addition of Captain Jack Sparrow). Those new figures which were added in 1997, all came from an EPCOT attraction that had recently closed. I had previously done two separate posts about the "new" pirate figures, so rather than include photos of them here, I will just provide the links to my earlier posts:

- "EPCOT in Anaheim"

- "More EPCOT in Anaheim"

In June of 2018, even more "politically correct" changes were made to the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction. It seems that the "auction scene," which had been a part of the original ride for 50 years, was suddenly found to be offensive.

A local newspaper article by Mark Eades, dated July 2, 2017, talked about the changes that would be made to that scene, which included making the "Redheaded Wench" into a "Plundering Pirate." A senior vice president of Walt Disney Imagineering is quoted as saying, "We think this keeps to the original vision of the attraction as envisioned by X Atencio, Marc Davis and the other Disney legends who brought this classic to life." Personally, I beg to differ! I just wish the two legends who were mentioned, were still around today so that we could ask them for their opinions. Actually, X Atencio had already been quoted, calling the 1997 revisions to the attraction, "The Boy Scouts of the Caribbean." Maybe we should ask Rolly Crump, Bob Gurr and Alice Davis, for their opinions!

This was the official Disney concept art, showing how the scene would be reworked:

And here is the finished product:

Below, is another local newspaper article dated, October 1, 2017. The author of this article was predicting that Disney wasn't going to do very much to the auction scene, other than give the Redheaded Wench some new pirate garb and hang a new banner behind her. It would have been nice if that was ALL that they did to the scene, but unfortunately they changed far more than that, including giving dialogue to the new "Redheaded Pirate."

I would like to know who wrote the new script for this scene! It doesn't even make sense. She now interacts with the Pirate Auctioneer, who is trying to sell chickens (WHY?) to the group of pirates seated across the way. He asks them, "Do I hear ten? A ten for a hen!" The Redheaded Pirate then interrupts him and while holding up a bottle, tells him that the men aren't interested in the chickens, but rather, "It's the rum they want!" The men start chanting, "We wants the rum! We wants the rum!" Excuse me, but aren't these guys pirates? Aren't they looting the town? If they wanted rum (or even a chicken), wouldn't they just go steal it for themselves? The entire dialogue seems so inane.

Again, I think it would have been better if they had only made the minimal changes, which the author was predicting. Actually, it would have been better if they had just left the auction scene as it had been, for the past 50 years! I am all for political correctness, but I think their attempt at updating this scene was a huge FAIL.

And not that I want to give Disney ideas for ruining the attraction any further, but if they are truly attempting to be politically correct, isn't it hypocritical to make that one change, but then leave all of the pirates who appear to be drunk and holding bottles of booze....AND ALSO HOLDING GUNS? Maybe they should just make all of the pirates hold hands and sing Kumbaya? After all, aren't the lyrics of the attraction's theme song, A Pirates Life For Me, really just encouraging people to "drink, pillage, loot, extort, kidnap, embezzle, hijack, and burn up the city"?

The author of the article goes on to say, that she feels changing the one female to a pirate isn't enough. She thinks, "If Disney really cared about embracing diversity and creating better representation of women and minority groups, there is a lot more they should be doing." When it comes to Disney's live action and animated films, she would like to see them focus on creating new stories about "people of color, women, LGBT individuals, and other underrepresented groups." I totally agree with her, but when Disney tried to do that with the Star Wars franchise (The Last Jedi), didn't many of the "fanboys" scream and cry?

I better end my rant here!

Happy 53rd anniversary, to the "ORIGINAL" Pirates of the Caribbean!

****Post Update****

I forgot to include the following information in my post:

So far, the "auction scene" has been updated in three of the Disney parks, worldwide. Both Anaheim's and Orlando's versions have the plus-size "Winsome Wench," also known as "Tiny," holding a chicken in one hand and a basket of eggs in the other. (Again, why on earth would the pirates be bidding on eggs???) At least in the Disneyland Paris version (seen below), she is holding jewelry, which makes just a little bit more sense, in my opinion. I wonder why Paris received a different version than Anaheim and Orlando? As of right now, Tokyo Disneyland still retains it's original auction scene.

And no, you are not seeing things! The pirate auctioneer has lost his head, here. Coincidentally, this happened on the exact same day that the animatronic "Ursula" lost her head, in the "Little Mermaid" ride in Anaheim.


K. Martinez said...

The last pic in your post is my favorite. It' symbolic of all the political correctness. We've lost our heads.

Loved your post, TokyoMagic! The last article by Charlie Dodge was the most sound and really brought up where true change could and should happen, within their films.

You've pretty much brought up all the issues I have with Pirates of the Caribbean, so I'm not sure what I could add. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and opinions on this. As for my own feelings about POTC, I've already put a fork in it. I'm done with it.

Major Pepperidge said...

TokyoMagic!, I try to see the other side when it comes to changes like this. I’m a guy, but maybe if I was a woman I would be bothered by the pirates chasing girls and doing whatever else they were doing. It surprised me when my friend Mr. X (a lover of all things that are traditional Disneyland) said that he thought they should change it, and that it was a disgrace. “But… but… they’re pirates! They do bad things!” I thought.

“Embracing diversity and creating better representation of women and minority groups” is a noble goal, but all art isn’t for all people. How can it be? I just watched “There Will Be Blood” on Netflix, it’s an incredible movie with almost no women in it. Does that make it “bad”? If you shoehorned in a love interest, it would have felt forced, deviated from the main story, and weakened the overall trajectory of this man who was solely focused on wealth and power to the detriment of everything else in his life.

If there was a movie about black characters being treated horribly by white characters (“Ten Years a Slave”, for instance), that’s a valid point of view. Probably a lot of ignorant viewers would feel “attacked”. Should that movie not exist? I agree that representation is important - the ecstatic reaction to “Black Panther” from audiences of color demonstrated how hungry they were for a hero that looked like them.

Granted, a Disney attraction should probably aim to appeal to the widest group of people possible. Maybe a ride about looting, pillaging (and raping?) pirates doesn’t belong in the 21st century. I don’t hate The Redheaded Pirate, but she looks like a nice lady who put on a tricorn hat for a costume ball. Make her threatening and scary! Make her ugly! Personally I think that would have been much cooler.

Anyway, I’m all over the map, sorry about my unfocused thoughts. I guess my basic feeling is that I am not crazy about the changes, but I am glad that we still have the ride. The park is now for a different generation with different priorities, and that’s OK.

"Lou and Sue" said...

"Too many cooks spoil the broth." It's impossible to please everyone and make all the changes everyone desires. Maybe it would've been best to leave POTC just the way Walt (and his team) originally designed it. Pirates were not known to do anything "good," so it's impossible to make them look [boy-scout] good without changing the atmosphere of this attraction. I experienced POTC when it first opened, and loved it . . . loved the atmosphere . . . and, as a little girl, I wasn't traumatized or scarred (I knew it was make-believe).

POTC always has been and always will be my favorite Disney park attraction EVER. (The Disneyland version is better than WDW's, btw.)

Thank you, TokyoMagic!, for all the interesting articles, pictures and personal thoughts you added . . . excellent post, I must say!

" . . . I am glad that we still have the ride." I AGREE, Major!


TokyoMagic! said...

Ken, I'm really glad that you enjoyed this post. I had written the first part about the 1997 changes a couple years ago, but never "published" the post. Then Disney made their second set of P.C. changes to the ride, in 2018. I decided to add the newer articles to the older ones and make the post about both rehabs. The problem was, when I wrote the first half, I didn't feel all that strongly anymore about the first set of changes, since most of them had been ripped out when Johnny Depp was added to the ride in 2006. I felt stronger about the recent changes, so in the second part of my post, I had more to "rant" about. I feel that it kind of made the post uneven, with all of my opinions in the second half. Oh well! I got tired of tweaking the post and constantly postponing it to a later date, so here it is!

Again, I'm glad that you liked it, and it sounds like we are on the same page. as far as the changes to the ride go. For me, you can put a fork in the entire park's done! Or as a certain beloved Imagineer recently said, "The park is gone!"

TokyoMagic! said...

Major, I agree with you about the Redheaded Pirate looking like a "nice lady".....and that they should have had her looking a little more grungy or threatening. My biggest problem with the update to that scene, isn't that they made her into a pirate, it's the script and scenario that they gave both her, and the auctioneer. Changing the scene from the auctioning of people, to the auctioning of their expensive possessions, might have worked (for me) but the way the scene is set up is confusing. First, you see a line of residents from the town with their possessions, like artwork, a chandelier and a grandfather clock, but then what is it that the auctioneer is actually trying to sell off? Chickens and eggs. Again, I think the DL Paris version makes more sense, having jewelry as the current item being offered.

I am also glad that we still have the ride. And you are right about the park being for a different generation. I suppose they don't look at these kind of details, so analytically. I also guess that they are able to enjoy everything, regardless of what changes are made.....that is, when they take the time to look up from their phones.

TokyoMagic! said...

Sue, I'm glad to hear that you weren't scarred by the ride, as a little girl! I do think it would have been best to leave the ride in it's original form, the way Walt and his team had designed it. But that's just me. Personally, I think Disneyland, or at least certain parts of it, SHOULD be a museum!

I have seen the WDW version of the ride, and I agree with you about the DL version being better! It's too bad that they got such an abbreviated version of the attraction.

Thank you for the nice compliment! I'm glad to hear that you liked this post!

The Magic Ears Dudebro said...

Hi, Tokyo! Long time, no comment.

Anyway, here are my thoughts on the matter: as much as I didn't want to see the wrench auction go, and I thought eliminating it was certainly caving to "PC culture", personally, I think the new scene is an upgrade, if for no reason than they turned Red into a gun-toting pirate. Nothing hotter than a fiery-redhead exercising her 2nd Amendment right. :D

Funnily enough, I had visited Pirates before 1997 and after in 1999 as a wee tot. Of course, I never really noticed the changes. Was too young, and I had limited experience with the ride. But the new changes seems as good.

TokyoMagic! said...

Magic Ears Dudebro, welcome back! I also thought Disney "caved" when trying to make just one scene out of the entire "Un-PC" ride, more "PC." There is a great episode from The Simpsons, when they go to a park called Dizzneeland (The Happiest Hell On Earth!) When they are getting in line for the "Politically Correct Pirates Of The Caribbean," Lisa says, "They revamped this ride, because of massive complaints from two people!" I know it's supposed to be a joke, but I really wouldn't be surprised if they changed it, just because of a small amount of complaints. If you are interested, there are some other funny lines from that episode:

And if you really like the Redheaded Pirate, there is a "live" version of her, walking around New Orleans Square at times.

TokyoMagic! said...

Magic Ears Dudebro, oops, I published that comment before I finished it. I was just going to provide you with a link for the "live" Redheaded Pirate, in case you hadn't seen footage of her already:

Nic Kramer said...

Love these rant posts...Not.

Although, I admit the trip wasn't so necessary (but neither is acting like Amidi).

TokyoMagic! said...

Nic, the good news is, that I have two and a half years worth of "outlines" for future blog posts, and none of them will contain "rants"! :-)