The Jungle Book Too Racist To Recreate?By: Lindsay McCane - April 28, 2014
Director Jon Favreau is planning on taking on the challenge of recreating Rudyard Kipling’s original story, and one of Disney’s timeless classics, The Jungle Book.
Favreau has already been in talks with some amazing A-list stars for the project including Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave) , Scarlett Johansson (Avengers: Age of Ultron), and Idris Elba (Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom). Elba has already agreed to play the part of Shere Khan the tiger, and if negotiations prove positive, Nyong’o will play the part of Bagheera the panther and Johansson will play the part of Kaa the snake.
While it may seem that Favreau has a good start on his project, he may soon run into troubles, as The Jungle Book has long been criticized for having racial undertones. While the book was written in the late 1800s, Disney’s film adaptation wasn’t released until 1967, right in the heart of the Civil Rights movement.
Oh so now the jungle book is racist. This has to be a joke…
— Reid Gillam(@oohGillam) April 28, 2014
Many scholars have researched the book and movie and have noticed several things that can be considered racist; the main subject being King Louie. “One of the main reasons that The Jungle Book needs to be rebooted is to fix the things that became controversial not long after it was released in 1967,” explained Robert Thompson, pop culture expert and media professor at Syracuse University.
“The first Disney ‘Jungle Book’ was based on Kipling; the next one will be based on the movie, so it’ll be another generation removed from Kipling, which will help,” Thompson continued. “King Louie was going to be a problem either way. The original choice would have been offensive – Louis Armstrong animated as an ape. The choice they went with had a minstrel show feel to it, also offensive.”
King Louie was thought to be an African-American who sang the song I want to be Like You to the young boy Mowgli. Critics say that he is singing the song because he wants to be Caucasian like Mowgli; however, as many fans of the movie have pointed out, Mowgli was not white.
Do you think the movie is racist, or are people simply looking too far into things? Leave your comments below.
Image via movies.disney.com