Disney is under pressure to remove Woody from Toy Story for what people call “crimes against Native Americans.”
Woody is the beloved toy cowboy character voiced by Tom Hanks in the Toy Story movies.
The controversy began after Disney added warnings of racism last week to the beginnings of classic films on Disney+. The movies included Dumbo, Peter Pan, Swiss Family Robinson, and The Aristocats.
However, people on Twitter erupted, arguing that Disney left out one particular film series: Toy Story.
In the 1940s-1960s, American pop culture often depicted American cowboys and Native Americans fighting. The cowboys were often the “good guys,” and Native Americans the “bad guys.”
Joanne Davis, a 33-year old mother from Ithaca, New York, tweeted:
“Flipping channels and this murdering piece of [expletive] plastic comes on. Literally in tears rn. How do I explain this to my daughter?”
The tweet drew over 120,000 likes, and people started calling for Woody to be removed from the film altogether.
Danielle Bassaly, a 26-year-old marketing manager in St. Cloud, Minnesota, suggested the toy be replaced with a Native American character from one of Disney’s other films.
“The only way I can see Disney making this right is if they replace Woody with Chief Powhatan from their 1995 movie Pocahantas. #BestMovieByTheWay”
The controversy eventually reached actor Tom Hanks, who played the voice of Woody in the film. Hanks tweeted:
“After much reflection, I realize that the character Woody is offensive, harmful, and insensitive. I made a terrible mistake in doing the character’s voice. It is something I will regret forever.”
It wasn’t enough, though. People began demanding that Hanks donate a portion of his earnings from the Toy Story series, over $75 million, to Native Americans. Three hours later, Hanks responded to his fans:
“To my followers: I need to make this right. I have decided to donate $75 Million, 10% of my earnings from Toy Story, to Harrah’s Resort in Atlantic City. Thank you for allowing me to make this right. #IHaveTheBestFans”
Author: Victor Dweck