26 comments on “The Fox and the Hound is racist

  1. If I could rant a little bit more: Many Christians need to look at the quote from Bonhoeffer above and take it seriously with many issues, especially racism in the Church. The Church continues to be one of the most racialized institutions in America. I recommend “Divided By Faith” by Emerson and Smith if anyone cares to get any of the data on this situation. In Christ, we are all to be one, reconciled to God AND to one another, yet these divisions are based off of past wrongs and current mistrust. But don’t we know that a house divided against itself will fall (Matthew 12:25)? As Bonhoeffer said, not doing anything is actually doing something. Not speaking is speaking. Not acting is acting. And it’s not the Image of God that is portrayed when we ignore these dirty little truths, but rather it is the image of that ancient enemy that would love nothing more than to keep the Church divided.

    So this blog post is, I hope, just a stepping stone to a larger discussion based off of a larger narrative. Was racism Disney’s objective in this movie? I have no idea. But that is the message that comes across. And it is a message that resonates. It is an evil that grows larger by ignoring it. It is a divide that grows wider by being silent.

    Most of the readers of this blog are Christian. I urge you to take that call seriously and really wrestle with the ministry of reconciliation that we’ve been entrusted with by the Lord (Matthew 5:23-24). It doesn’t matter if you think you live in an area where it is a problem or not. Bonhoeffer was safely inside of the U.S. when he decided to return to Germany to be with his people in their struggle. He recognized that if he wanted to be a true Christ-follower, he must do as Christ did. Christ did not ignore problems, nor did he just spout of decrees from a lofty perch; rather he walked among the problem itself. He was present in the deepest, darkest places the world had to offer.

    Some call this type of Christianity “Radical Christianity”. They use terms like “Radical Discipleship” to describe people who actually do and teach this. To me, that is really sad. I wish it could just as easily be labeled “Christianity” because all who claim His name were so heavily involved in loving God, brothers and sisters, and neighbors. What is labeled today as “Radical Christianity” should only be, in C.S. Lewis terminology, mere Christianity.

    “For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.” (Paul talking about the new community of believers made up of Jews and Gentiles in Ephesians 2:14-16)

    • And just to clarify, since I believe this has been an issue with some of the terminology I use: “racialized” does not mean the same thing as “racist”. One may lead to the other, and many times they do co-exist, but the words are not synonymous.

    • Actually, it’s interesting that the characters sounded like poor southern whites/Afro-American. The owl was a nice black-mother figure? It reminded me of the 50’s/60’s in the deep south.

      • Good point. Disney has actually been criticized regularly for their propagation of racial stereotypes. Thanks for the comment!

    • Thanks man! I was hoping that at least one person out in the blogosphere didn’t think I was a mad man. So you’ve just exceeded my expectations!

  2. I absolutely agree with this movie being a morally deplorable look of status quo, as well as propagating the idea or a natural order of racism and it’s need in society, but i will say your examples a morally/ethically higher path are taken from some sources which endorse racism, i.e the bible. if you want to make a solid point i would not source material that instructs its disciples in the ways of how to keep a slave properly or how we should stone or behead homosexuals.

    • Pat, thank you for your comment and for reading the blog!

      However, you should know that this is a Christian blog. I’m not saying that to dissuade you from reading, but just to say that if your comment above is indicative of your type of posting, you will be exhausted because 99% of our posts mention the Bible 🙂

      That being said, I would like to “briefly” respond to your comments. I understand where you are coming from with your comments about the Bible being racist, homophobic, and supporting the slave state. However, I believe you have a fundamental misunderstanding of the Bible as a whole. That “whole” being within its own historical and literary context, and within its own metanarrative and the role of the climax of the Biblical witness, that being Jesus Christ’s life, death, and resurrection.

      The Law was considered a tutor until Christ came (Gal. 3:24). Paul mentioned that the Law was impossible to keep and follow, and that all would mess up. That’s why he urged Jewish Christians to not force Gentile Christians under the Law, something that they themselves had not been able to keep — indeed, he said that Christ had freed them, and so “do not let yourselves be burdened again by the yoke of slavery” (Gal. 5:1). So this begs the question on what the purpose of the law was. Well, the Law was meant to tell one group of people from another. Many ancient societies were separated not by race, but by politics and/or hereditary notions. This is different than the idea of “race” as we know it, because they didn’t believe in a fundamental biological difference as the word was formulated to mean in the west (this wouldn’t come until probably around the 17th century). And with God’s ultimate desire for his people to be a blessing to the Gentiles (i.e. any non-Jew), and for him to bring the Gentiles into his household (and many more reasons), it is hard to seriously make the claim that God is a racist (more on this and God’s treatment of other people groups is following). All of this being the case, the Law was partly a product of its time, very similar to other legal codes one could find, but also meant to show the superior morality of Yahweh. So it took stands against infanticide, stands against not caring for foreigners, not caring for the needy people of society, not protecting women from sexual predators, etc.

      The issue of homosexuality in the OT codes is tricky. The Bible is against a homosexual lifestyle. Still, with all the Bible says about being kind to everyone, loving all, and befriending those who need it most, why would it also say to treat them badly? Well, again, it is a product of its time and context. Studies have shown, though, that this was not a common practice, this treatment of homosexuals. Also, there is some debate as to what the strict laws are actually referring to: is it the homosexual activity itself, i.e. acting upon it? Is it more sadistic forms of the act, i.e. gang rape, molestation, etc.? I will have a better answer for you on these when I take Hebrew next year! But the point may not have been to hand out strict judgments, but to show the serious righteousness of the Lord and his requirements of a just, civilized, loving society. And again, many of these rules were almost impossible to keep. And then Jesus comes! And it is said that he fulfilled the law (5:17). He was the only one who ever could, and ever did (btw, the law sometimes refers to virtually all commandments found in the 5 books of Moses, and sometimes even all Hebrew Scripture teaching, not just the sections of commands).

      So Jesus fulfilled the law without ever stoning one homosexual. As a matter of fact, he stopped the stoning of a person and said “let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” And there we get a glimpse into one purpose of the law; to show us that we must rely on God’s grace and God’s help. Jesus was asked which of the commandments were the most important, and he said “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:36-40).

      And last but not least, issues of race and slavery. Again, the people’s that God had a problem with were not innocent. And if we assume that God is omniscient, then he would know the future and know people’s hearts. Are we then to question his divine commands? We understand through Scripture that God is loving, that he wants peace and justice, he wants those that are easily taken advantage of to be protected, etc. So then why not trust him in other matters? If he wants a society of infanticidal maniacs taken down, then that’s what he wants. There must be a reason. Rejecting his commands only allows evil to creep in even more. This can be seen several times in the biblical narrative. But we can see it also in something you mention: slavery.

      First and foremost we must understand that when you say slavery, you are probably referring to the disgusting practice of slavery and the slave-trade in America’s not-so-distant past. However, reading that type of slavery into the Bible is anachronistic. Most of the time the Bible is referring to a type of “slave” that would be better referred to as bondservant. These were people who owed debt, and so they could go to work for their debtor for someone for a period of time (in the Old Testament this time was not to exceed 5 years) and have their debt wiped clean. Their were biblical laws that spoke of punishment for the bondservant owner (though it might be translated as “slave owner”) who treated the bondservant unjustly, did not release them in the correct amount of time, was abusive to them, etc. This was a major issue for the Lord, and it was one that came up again and again. Israel itself was under the yoke of an unjust slavery by Egypt, which the Lord rescued them from.

      And in the New Testament, when it speaks of slaves obeying their masters and masters to also serve their slaves in ways that glorify the Lord, it is talking of this type of bondservant relationship. “And masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Do not threaten them, since since you know that He who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with Him” (Ephesians 6:9). In the letter of Philemon, Paul urges Philemon to officially free a runaway slave of his, Onesimus. Instead, this man should be treated as a brother and loved.

      The whole biblical narrative is concerned with freedom. Freedom from the yoke of sin and from the yoke of anything that is not Christ. It is plain to see that God desires ultimate freedom for all, forever, in his son Jesus Christ. He wants ALL people (all races, and all sexual dispositions) to know Him and be filled with His Spirit, and to act righteously, to care for all, to love all, and ultimately to break down all shackles (not supporting slavery) and to serve other people, which also serves the Lord (Matthew 25:34-46).

      If you are truly interested in learning about these things and understanding them, I can recommend some a small book or two that you could read from actual well-respected Biblical scholars. Your claim sounds a lot like similar claims made by Richard Dawkins. I would stay away from dubious authors like Dawkins who know very little about Biblical scholarship and use proof-texting (misusing texts and stripping texts of all context to use to further their own agenda) as their best friend.

      Many blessings to you on your journey 🙂

      Here is another site that has some helpful discussion on the topic: http://carm.org/why-do-christians-not-obey-old-testaments-commands-to-kill-homosexuals

      • The adoptive mother only brought him far into the forest to protect the fox against the evil owner of the hound. The owner had threatened to harm the fox if he had seen him about. The man was out of control.

        But nonetheless, it was a sad movie and they should have made it a point to show how different species aka races can and should be able to live amoung each other and embrace one another.

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  4. Where is your brain.How in the world it is racist.They are animals.They are not a symbol of black people or white people. Morons like you say that it racist because they can’t be friends because they are different.Hello both are part of the caine family.Also they where still friend even through adulthood. But after what happpen to cheif.It seem that their friendsip end.Tod is a wild animal anyway.Don’t you want him to be in the wild.Just because people or things try to keep them a part.Does mean that disney is teaching racism.They are animals.There no racism.Plus it teach that different people or animals can be friends.Howthings will stop you.That real life.But Tod and Copper don’t hate each other because of their differance .The hate has start until the train sence.IT IS NOT RACIST.I saw it you didn’t.Mayebe you did saw.Pray that God will fix your damge brains .

    • Ummmm … thanks for your comment? I pray that God teaches you how to write with grace toward your brothers and sisters that you disagree with. I don’t feel there is much I need to comment to here since it was already addressed. But I will just reiterate this, however most don’t seem to grasp this point: if this movie were a nature documentary, then everything you are saying is true. But it isn’t. The animals have human characteristics, and many other animals are getting along that would not really get along in the wild. Thanks for caring enough to respond, but mind your sinful tongue. I do, however, welcome prayer for my damaged brain.

  5. I love this movie and I personaly think you have thought way to far into this animated childrens movie. Instead of looking for all the bad why not look for the good? Isnt the world negative enough leave the classic Disney movies alone.

  6. Religion is annoying first of all. Evolution is fact.
    This movie is a children’s movie so why are you looking for all the negative in it instead of the positive? isn’t the world negative enough!?

    • Yes, part of the reason the world is negative is because we bury our heads in the sand on major issues that are uncomfortable to talk about. People who have lived through these racial struggles wouldn’t see pointing out bad messages as a problem, but as something that should be done more often. If you have eyes to see, then let them see.

  7. Hey although I slightly disagree, I really liked your post. I had never thought of this movie in that way but after rewatching it and reading this post I can see where the movie could be taken in that context. Personally I think racism is too narrow a spectrum as (to me) this was more aimed at intolerance in general. If you remember, the movie starts on a very negative note with Tod’s mother/father being shot, yet friends take him in, give him love and a home and raise him as their own. If anything I think this is a very positive movie as it shows we can all find love in a world where intolerance and hate still very much exists, and that a little kindness goes a long way to start a change the way a person thinks. In any case i’m sure you’re tired of debating the topic, just thought i’d throw in my two cents

    • I only get tired of debating it when people aren’t as respectful as you were, so I thank you for at least hearing what I had to say and articulating your cordial response. Thanks for the comment! You bring up some good points. Sorry for my delay in responding as I have been (and am still) on a bit of a hiatus from the blog because of school. Thanks again!

  8. You’re ridiculous. Children aren’t going to look at this show as racist, until they get older and people like you say that. They’ll think it’s sad, and it can help them see that wild animals shouldn’t be kept as pets, and that there’s something gravely wrong with hunting animals.
    Might even help them to see that you shouldn’t judge and point fingers too quickly just because of what someone is or what they look like. Kids would hate that copper and tod couldn’t be friends because of the hunter. Kids hate the hunter. The hunter is the whole problem in the entire story and he shows a lot of things that kids shouldn’t like.
    It’s just a sad story about two friends being separated because of “parental” figures trying to make them into something they don’t want to be.
    Tod and copper are still friends, thats why they smiled at each other at the waterfall, but tod fell in love and decided to stay, and the differences were sorted because the hunter saw he shouldn’t hunt todd anymore. Todds owner released him to keep him out of trouble because it was best for him, and really he wasn’t that much of a captive fox because he still roamed outside, so he would have learned, which he did.

    This movie isn’t about racism. It’s about forgivness, and it shows that easily.
    Sorry if my comment jumps around, i’m just a bit pissed that you would say it’s racist when it’s not.

    • I guess the question then would be whether one must be intentional about racism to commit a racist act. I never said that the movie was about racism, but that the message ends up supporting segregation. And you are correct, most kids would understand it as sad and would not walk away thinking “boy, I sure am glad that those two aren’t allowed to be friends anymore.” However, they need to learn to not accept those things as status quo, but to fight for what is right. In the end the hunter gets his way, and Tod and Copper must be content with only seeing each other from a distance with a fence segregating the two of them. In the Holy Trinity we find a divine relationality that informs our own relationality as human beings, one which must be reconciled between arbitrary markers of difference. Never be content with someone deciding who your friends can be based on outer appearances.

  9. Noooo fox and the hound is a great movie! Its very depressing, but I think the moral Disney focused on is “no one’s friends forever, because things change as you get older, but you should always value the friends you once had in life” I’m sure there are life-time friends but for the most part people make friends as children and then grow up and go their seperate ways because you lose things you once had in common. I don’t think Disney made any attempt at showing that you cant change status quo or be with people different from you. I understand how you can kinda see that in the end, but i think it’s the other way around. Like, when Todd saved Copper from the bear, Copper realized that they didn’t have to try and kill eachother after all. He disobeyed his master when Slade told him to get outta the way. (Slade obviously is the villian because he’s a jerkface so he wasnt about to change). That’s a big deal for a dog!! And then they parted ways, with a silent understanding. And then you see Vixie and Tod looking down at the farm as if to say, hey look at where i grew up. He’s happy to be in the wild now. And Slade and the widow were hanging out bickering together as she aided to his leg so that also shows againn that enemies can reach an understanding…I think. That might be a different case. I’m fairly certain that Slade and the Widow have a long insane past together (I swear they used to be ex-lovers). Also Big Mama with her whole “Elimination. Lack of Education” motto, I think that was her way of saying hounds and foxes are enemies because of the circle of life. Also, off topic, I’m pretty sure Slade killed Bambi’s mother! D: Anyway that’s my take on the movie!!!

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