By Mike Canavan
Hello, my name is Dumbo. Today I learned something that has broken my heart and shattered my dreams. The horrible people at Disney have cancelled me. They didn’t ask me — they didn’t tell me. I saw it on the news.
“Streaming network Disney Plus has blocked young children aged 7 and under from watching ‘Peter Pan’, ‘Dumbo’ and ‘The Aristocrats’, after the three movies were accused of breaching content advisories for scenes of racial profiling. The movies will no longer appear in the kids’ section of the app”.
They further went on to say: “These program’s include negative depictions and/or mistreatment of people or cultures.”
“These stereotypes were wrong then and are wrong now. Rather than remove this content, we want to acknowledge its harmful impact, learn from it and spark conversation to create a more inclusive future together.”
“Disney is committed to creating stories with inspirational and aspirational themes that reflect the rich diversity of the human experience around the globe.”
I can’t imagine how flying pink elephants, talking crows, a hopeful field mouse, and a story of a handicapped individual who eventually fulfils my dreams of becoming a success, could do any damage to “the rich diversity of human experience around the globe” to quote their own mantra.
I can’t tell you how much it hurts. But like the past, I’m not going give up. I’m going to fight. And I’m going to win.
But I’m getting a little ahead of myself, let me go back in time. Let me tell you my story…
My story starts when the stork delivered me to my mum Mrs Jumbo in late winter, back in 1941. My Mummy later told me I was born at a time when the world had plenty of trouble. See, I grew up in a Circus.
I was different, I didn’t know it at first, but once I could understand, I knew I wasn’t like any other of the kids in the circus.
I soon found out I was really different. The other kids made fun of me. They made me feel really, really sad. You see, I had really big ears. They nicknamed me ‘Dumbo’. My Mummy did her best to protect me, she even caught one of the kids teasing me. She gave him what fore. But the Ringmaster didn’t care about the truth, he said she was mad, but all she was doing was trying to protect me. He locked her up to punish her. That broke my heart.
But the world has a funny way of working things out. I met my friend, Timothy, he was a little field mouse, he promised that he’d help me to make something of myself.
I finally got my big break, thanks to Timothy. I was put on top of the pyramid of elephants in a circus trick. I tried so hard, but something went wrong. I tripped over my ears and well, all of us came tumbling down. Some of the other elephants got hurt and the big top collapsed on us. The Ringmaster was furious, he blamed me and I’m sad to say — he was right.
The Ringmaster decided that I wasn’t good for very much and made me dress as a clown. I hated every performance, I had to fall into a pudding each performance. Everybody picked on me. However, my friend Timothy never lost faith. He took me to see my mum. That was the best thing that he could have ever done for me. I vowed I wasn’t going to give up — I was going to do something for us all.
But again, things didn’t work out too well. Truly, it wasn’t my fault, I didn’t know I was going to drink some champagne and get drunk, nor did Timothy. It was hidden in a bucket that the other clowns had used, it made us see pink elephants fly.
In the morning some crows found us in a tree. When they stopped making fun of us, Timothy realised that I’d used my big ears as wings. The crows helped us out too, they encouraged me to have a go. Timothy helped transform my act from being a joke into to a miracle. He believed in me. He gave me the confidence to use my unique gift as a blessing, not a curse. He gave me the courage to believe in myself !
I became famous. I didn’t forget Timothy, and I freed my Mum. Together we brought joy and hope to many young people around the world.
Sadly today, my story of hope and persistence, of working hard to be the best you can be doesn’t seem to mean very much. The belief that you can become something is being destroyed by the sad, bigoted and myopic, narrow-minded do-gooders that are everywhere. Their hate for themselves, and their need for power — to have everybody thinking the way they do, has blinded them, and is ruining our world.
All those years ago I could have given up, but I didn’t. There were other people that saw I had potential. They weren’t blinded by the fact that I was different, they saw hope. They saw ability. And they showed compassion.
To justify their actions, Disney have said: “These stereotypes were wrong then and are wrong now. Rather than remove this content, we want to acknowledge its harmful impact, learn from it and spark conversation to create a more inclusive future together.”
The sadness of this new morality is that all of these people, the people that want to destroy and change my past to what they perceive it should have been, are destroying my legacy and achievement.
At about the time I was a child, a great man was changing the world in his own simple way. He said in one magnificent speech: “When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love has always won. There have been tyrants and murderers and for a time they seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall… think of it, always”. His name was Mahatma Gandhi.
I believe in this simple thought — goodness will prevail, but we will need to have the courage to fight for it, and stand up against these bullies.