Hidden messages found in Disney movies are a source of much speculation. Which ones are true and which ones are mere myth?
Potential Hidden Messages Found in Disney Movies
The following are a few of the most common hidden message rumors attached to popular Disney movies.
The Lion King
Shortly after the scene in The Lion King when Simba, Pumbaa and Timon look at the stars and discuss what they are, Simba flops near the edge of a cliff. Some observers think the cloud of dust he disturbs forms the letters S-E-X. Others suggest that the letters are actually supposed to be S-F-X, inserted by a special effects team member. The letters are visible if you know what to look for, but it’s impossible to say if they were animated intentionally.
In the original Rescuers movie, as Bernard and Bianca fly on Albatross Air, a naked woman briefly appears in an apartment window in the background. This is one of the few verifiable rumors. In 1999, Disney was forced to recall its home video release when these hidden frames were discovered.
The Little Mermaid
The original promotional poster for the movie and the cover of the VHS release featured a shimmering castle. Upon closer examination, one of the castle’s towers appears to look like a penis. Some were sure this was an intentional sexual message. In an article on the veracity of these hidden message rumors, Snopes.com interviewed the original creator of the promotional materials; he claims that it was merely the accidental product of a late night at work. In a castle with spires that are already phallic in nature, it was only natural for one to look a bit more like the male genitalia.
However, The Little Mermaid is the source of not one, but two persistent penis-based rumors. During a wedding scene, as a disguised Ursula is about to marry Prince Eric, many viewers claim that the minister has a visible erection. While it’s true that the minister displays a bulge below the belt, it’s actually one of the minister’s knobby knees.
Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
Who Framed Roger Rabbit? was a unique mix of live-action and animation, and featured a veritable who’s-who of animated characters. In a scene between Donald Duck and Daffy Duck, some people hear Donald use a racial slur against Daffy. It’s most likely that Donald’s tirade is the usual unintelligible gibberish that the character turns to when angry.
Another Who Framed Roger Rabbit? rumor says that viewers get an extra peek at the voluptuous Jessica Rabbit in one scene. After a car accident, Jessica’s dress slips up her legs. On the LaserDisc release, some viewers noticed a few frames where her underwear disappears. Whether it was a coloring error or an intentional insertion of nudity is hard to say.
While there are no hidden images in the movie Aladdin, there may be a hidden verbal message. Just before Aladdin and Jasmine take their carpet ride, Aladdin whispers something under his breath. While the script has him saying, "C’mon . . . good kitty. Take off and go," what many listeners believe he is saying is, "teenagers take off your clothes." This has never been proven and may simply be the power of suggestion.
How Can It Happen?
The nature of animation makes it relatively easy for someone to slip a visual joke into a film. One second of movie time requires 24 frames of animation. A single frame would produce a slight blip on the screen, only recognizable on a subliminal level. An animator looking to insert a quick joke or make his own mark on the production could add something extra to a frame and no one would be the wiser. In fact, it’s impossible to know how many studio employees might have done exactly this over the years. However, the advent of home video made it possible for viewers to pause any scene and to catch bits of muttered dialogue they might not have heard in the theater. These hidden jokes aren’t so hidden anymore.
The Bottom Line
Just because it’s possible for hidden messages in Disney movies to arise, it doesn’t mean that the messages are always there. In many cases, it’s all in the power of suggestion. Once someone tells viewers what they should be seeing or hearing, they find it difficult to interpret it any other way. When they truly exist, these hidden messages are the product of a occasional bored employee or a careless bit of editing. They’re not part of an insidious Disney plot to corrupt the children of America. In the end, these movie moments offer little more than a bit of trivia and a potential conversation topic.