Posted on Thursday, October 4th, 2012 by Angie Han
Like most Hollywood studios, Disney catches a lot of flack for its lack of diversity and its less than delicate handling of racial issues. And while much of the criticism is deserved, a deleted scene that’s been making the rounds suggests that the Mouse House isn’t always completely clueless when it comes to that touchy topic.
The recently surfaced clip from 2002′s Lilo & Stitch deals with racial matters and the obnoxiousness of tourists — to be more specific, the tendency of visitors to exoticize non-white locals. Fed-up Lilo decides to take matters into her own hands, with predictably, entertainingly disastrous results. Watch the video after the jump.
The video below was reblogged approximately a zillion times on Tumblr before making it to Buzzfeed this week. As others have pointed out, it appears that the scene was cut relatively late in the production process, so it’s not just a matter of one writer throwing a half-formed idea around.
The scene seems fairly innocuous. The color of Lilo’s skin is never explicitly mentioned, and the situation never gets that ugly. Moreover, such troublemaking isn’t out of character for Lilo whether or not race is involved. And residents of tourist-heavy areas all across the country can probably appreciate Lilo’s exasperation with the clueless out-of-towners. Still, for sharper, older audiences, the racial subtext isn’t difficult to pick up.
Just why this scene was excised from the movie is unknown. Some have suggested that Disney producers were afraid of making Caucasian filmgoers uncomfortable, and demanded it taken out. A less cynical guess is that the filmmakers wound up cutting it for time, or because they figured they didn’t need another scene of Lilo getting into trouble. It’s also possible the real reason falls somewhere in between, or some other random factor we haven’t thought of yet.
It’s too bad, because as I mentioned above, Disney could stand to be more sensitive about its portrayal of minorities. (Which, yes, to be fair, doesn’t make it any worse than any other studio.) Lilo & Stitch is a lovable classic with or without this scene, but keeping it in would’ve felt like a step in the right direction.