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Disney to Remove “Wench Auction” From PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN, and That May Not Be a Bad Thing

Disney to Remove “Wench Auction” From PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN, and That May Not Be a Bad Thing

There are always people who get upset when Disney theme parks make changes to beloved rides. 3D haters wish the old Star Tours was still there. Horror fans wish the original Alien Encounter hadn’t been toned down to feature Stitch. And most everyone who rode the original Submarine Voyage prefers it to the new Finding Nemo version. On the other hand, the new Yetis on the Matterhorn Bobsleds move much better, the Hat-Box Ghost finally works in The Haunted Mansion, and the Guardians of the Galaxy makeover of the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror is doing gangbusters.

Pirates of the Caribbean has seen more changes than most, particularly since it spun off a mega-successful movie series. Johnny Depp’s Captain Jack Sparrow is now a featured character on the attraction, as are Barbossa and Davy Jones. But perhaps more notably, animatronics of pirates chasing women in order to grope them were modified to look like they were craving plates of food instead of depicting baser appetites. The latest change is in that vein: an auction of female captives being sold as wives to the highest bidder (“Take a wench for a bride”) is going to be changed, starting in Paris, with the much-desired redhead in the scene changing from victim to villain, as she forcibly divests locals of their loot, which is now to be the auctioned booty.

In a statement on D23’s members-only blog, quoted by Mashable…

“Our team thought long and hard about how best to update this scene,” said Kathy Mangum, senior vice president, Atlantic Region Executive for Walt Disney Imagineering in the post. “Given the redhead has long been a fan favorite, we wanted to keep her as a pivotal part of the story, so we made her a plundering pirate!”

It should be noted that, as far, as we’re aware, there was not some massive protest campaign of “political correctness” by parkgoers, but rather, this was an internal Disney decision. And it’s not necessarily a bad one. Sure, there are many guests who’d rather preserve everything in the park the way it was when it opened, but (a) if that’s your gameplan, you get something closer to Knott’s Berry Farm rather than Disneyland; and (b) if you’re excited for Star Wars Land, you already in some way acknowledge that it’s okay to update the park.

We’re a whole lot more “woke” about sex trafficking now than people were in the ’60s, and let’s not mince words: that is what was being depicted. Had Disneyland created a Tom Sawyer ride instead, depicting slaves being whipped, we wouldn’t even be discussing that, as it would have been long gone. Hell, look at Splash Mountain, a ride based on a movie (Song of the South) whose name it is afraid to utter, and whose plot it changes drastically to avoid any possible offense. Sex slavery is not somehow more appropriate. Yes, pirates did awful things in real life, and you could argue that it’s hypocritical to make light of their violence and drunkenness while getting more upset with the sex stuff, when it’s all a cartoonish portrayal.

But you don’t get to tell people what does or doesn’t make them upset. Disney decides for the majority of their customers. And the argument that a scene of sex-trafficking is essential for the enjoyment of the pirate ride for kids is, I think, extremely fallacious. What do you think? Is this the beginning of the end, a welcome step away from making light of abuse, or something in between? Speak ye now in comments!

Featured image: YouTube/Mark Brieve

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