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Entries in Pirates of the Caribbean (9)

Saturday
May012010

I Miss Paul Frees

Article by Lilly.

I love voice-overs. I love doing them and I especially love hearing really great voice-over talent. Best part of Disney’s recent Alice in Wonderland? Paul Whitehouse as the March Hare. He was crazy. It was awesome. I listen Keith David perform “Friends on the Other Side” all the time. He did an outstanding job with the character of Dr. Facilier.

But of course you know my favorites go back to the early days of Disney. I love those classic voices like Ed Wynn, Andy Devine, and Eleanor Audley. Phil Harris? No wonder Disney used him a million times, he had a great voice. I love how back then they chose incredibly rich and distinct voices. Adriana Caselotti often gets criticized for her cheesy interpretation of Snow White, but you listen to “With a Smile and a Song” and tell me it doesn’t warm your heart a little. That movie wouldn’t be the same without that voice, I wouldn’t change it a bit.

Of all the voices that I’ve ever heard in my life, one stands out as my absolute favorite. The late Paul Frees. Hands down, Paul Frees is my favorite voice actor of all time. Of course, as a young girl, I always loved Frees’ deep and evocative voice as the Ghost Host in the Haunted Mansion, but I also loved his resounding narration in Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln. Then I found out he did several of the pirate voices, including one of my favorites, the auctioneer. I began to be really impressed, but my mind was blown when I found out he did Ludwig Von Drake, too. Is there no end to this guy’s talent? I propose that there is not. Since then, I have adored the man. I have listened and watched everything he’s ever done and have missed him terribly since he passed away November 2, 1986. Disney isn’t the same without him.

Go ahead and listen to some Paul Frees amazingness. The last 4 minutes are Paul Frees in the sound booth recording for The Haunted Mansion. Pretty cool to hear him at work.


And if you would like to see Frees in a live action role, check out The Shaggy Dog (1959) where he plays Dr. Galvin, a psychiatrist.

On October 9, 2006, Paul Frees was honored as a Disney Legend for his contributions to the Disney legacy. Mr. Frees, you are missed!


BONUS:  Paul Frees narrates Disneyland's Adventure Thru Inner Space ride (Paul begins his narration at 2:29)



 

Friday
Mar262010

Walking the “Politically Correct” Line

Article by Lilly

 

As a teenager I would always become enraged whenever Disney would change something that I loved in order to be more “Politically correct.” I always felt that people needed to stop picking at everything, just get over it and let things be.

One of the times I remember being most irritated was the refurbishment of Pirates of the Caribbean in the mid 90s. In this refurbishment, Disney made alterations in an attempt to be more politically correct. One change involved the scene which previously displayed two attractive women being chased by pirates and a third heavier woman is chasing the pirate. The scene was altered in a way that turned the focus away from the women and made the pirates appear to be after food or treasure (depending on the park).

In the same scene a large pirate sat against a barrel exhausted from chasing a woman that he is now trying to find. She is, of course, is in the barrel behind him. Here is his dialogue:

This was changed into dialogue about treasure in one park and food in the other park to match what is going on in the rest of the scene (currently, of course, it is Captain Jack Sparrow in the barrel). Now, I realize that comments like "It's sore I be to hoist me colors upon the likes of that shy little wench" and "I be willing to share, I be," aren’t exactly appropriate, but they are pirates and need I mention the girl in the barrel is giggling? Hardly someone who is being terrorized. I really felt that people were just overreacting.

Well, years go by and maturity begins to set in and I begin to realize just how damaging the effects of racism, sexism, and other prejudices are on our society, even when the intentions are innocent. For example, I hate how we use the term “pimp” or “pimpin’” as something cool. Pimps are really terrible men who use violence and drugs to to lure in prostitutes and keep them in line and more and more are becoming involved in the ever growing business of human trafficking. Not cool. Yet we throw around the term like it is.

 

  

So I’m boarding Pirates with my friend who is acutely aware of negative stereotypes and she asks me if I think it is a problem that our society thinks pirates are cool the way people think pimps are cool. Um....pirates are cool. Okay, she had me. I had to acknowledge that pirates are really terribly violent and self indulgent people that do horrible and unmentionable things. But at the same time, I love my version of pirates. You know the ones that are pirates, but still good men (like Boot Straps Bill). Never mind the fact that it is a completely inaccurate depiction of real pirates.

 So here comes the inner struggle. Do I think Disney really ought to try their best to be thoughtful and respectful to all races, cultures, sexes, etc. and only have the most uplifting material void of anything inappropriate? Yes. Do I want Disney to erase everything that had such content in the past? No. I can confidently say that if Bob Iger announced that they planned to tear down Pirates of the Caribbean due to the inappropriate romanticism of pirates, I would stand in front the the attraction with a very stern expression on my face that read something like “over my dead body.”

The truth is, although we love everything Disney stands for, they make tacky decisions here and there. That doesn’t mean we should try and erase every potentially offensive thing Disney has ever done. So many of those things are part of Disney “heritage” if you will.

I mean take Carousel of Progress for example. I have a friend that won’t ride it because of how derogatory it is towards women. I rode it again with her eyes and the truth is, it is degrading towards women in several parts. Should we tear it out? No. The Carousel of Progress was thought up by Walt Disney himself to show the amazing development of technology through time, one of his passions, and how it affected families and influenced culture during those times. Can’t we just ride it for what it is? It doesn’t mean that we have to think being demeaning towards women is okay, but maybe we can just recognize that wasn’t the intention and move on. 

If we took out everything that contained something inappropriate, we would lose many of the greatest works the Walt Disney Company has created.  Evette is getting seriously molested in this scene. Should they have included it? Perhaps not. Should we ban Beauty and the Beast? No. 

How about Peter Pan and the “What Makes the Red Man Red” scene? I doubt there is a Native American on the planet that feels that Native Americans are being accurately portrayed by lyrics like “When did he first say ‘Ug?’” and “Why does he ask you how?” And I’m sure they weren’t fond of the incredibly stereotyped way of the chief spoke, either. So should we take Peter Pan off the shelves for good? Absolutely not. 

Of course you know where this is going. Song of the South has not recently been released in the US due to the racially insensitive tone of the film. Now, I may or may not own a copy of this film and I have watched it many times. When I had first seen it, I argued that Disney executives were crazy. I thought there was nothing insensitive about the film. Okay, I’m over it now. Let’s be honest, black people working on cotton plantations in the south just after the civil war weren’t exactly laughing, singing and telling stories. Heck, even in 1946 when the film was released, James Baskett (Uncle Remus) didn’t go to the premiere because Atlanta was segregated and he wouldn’t have been able to participate in any of the events. Okay, it’s insensitive, I get it. But do we have to ban it? Of course there are rumors it is going to be released soon. Those rumors have been floating around for a long time. But really let’s just release it. Does that mean I excuse the racially insensitive tone of the film? No. It just means I can acknowledge it and still appreciate the role the film played in the development of Disney filmmaking as well as finally see the original source for the song “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah.”

All in all, I do hope the Walt Disney Company becomes increasingly sensitive moving forward. It is important. And also, Disney executives if you’re listening...don’t touch anymore of my attractions. Thanks.

 

Sunday
Nov292009

Pirates Exit Music

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