Disney will reportedly change the classic Siamese Cat song in their upcoming live-action remake of Lady and the Tramp.
Variety reports “The Siamese Cat Song” which was originally recorded by Peggy Lee will undergo a rework from Janelle Monae and Wondaland. They specifically note that Wondaland contributors Nate “Rocket” Wonder and Roman GianArthur “are working on a different take” for “The Siamese Cat Song.”
Vice President of Creative Music and Soundtracks at Disney Kaylin Frank confirmed the company was working with Wondaland at the MUSEXPO Creative Summit:
“We’re dealing with Wondaland, her team of incredibly creative writers and producers that she works with. So our director has engaged with her in terms of what the storytelling [of] the song needs to be.”
“The Siamese Cat Song” comes when the film introduces the Siamese cats, Si and Am, as they slowly make their way out of a basket. They sing, “We are Siamese if you please / We are Siamese if you don’t please.”
They go on to try and capture and eat a fish, but Lady prevents them. However, in their attempts to steal the fish, they cause quite a bit of mischief. Eventually they hear the cry of a baby and plan to steal the child’s milk. Lady once again steps in. However, the cats make it look like Lady is the one who ruined the house.
Variety claims the song has “long been considered a cringe-worthy depiction of Asian culture.”
Flavorwire writer Marcus Hunter decried the scene and the depiction of the cats writing, “They have no individuality; their innocent blue eyes bend into a sinister glare as they cave at the slant. They are jaundiced and sly; sick and feral; domesticated, though nevertheless propelled by their mischievous, impish nature to deceive and intimidate.” In fact, he calls the depiction of the two cats “one of the most racist cartoon characters ever depicted on film.”
While Disney is reportedly changing the song, an insider also indicates they will be changing Si and Am altogether. The report indicates the two cats won’t even be Siamese cats any more.
“The Siamese Cat Song” might not be the only song that gets reworked either. It’s reported that the film’s primary song, “He’s a Tramp” might also be reinvented by Wondaland.
The film will allegedly still take place in 1910 according to Frank.
This isn’t the first change that Disney has made when adapting their animated classics to live-action. Most recently the crows from the animated Dumbo film were removed in the live-action adaptation.
Producer Derek Frey spoke to RadioTimes about the crows being removed:
“It’s funny, you hear people like, ‘Oh, I hope the crows are in it! But the screenplay that we received didn’t have it in there, and while I’ve never heard anything officially from Disney on it, probably any which way you’d try to represent that it wouldn’t work. It may have been something that Disney felt wasn’t necessary to include.”
The Hollywood Reporter also indicates Disney will be censoring its classic animated films for the films debuting on its Disney+ streaming service. They note the service will not include Disney’s 1946 film Song of the South and that they plan to edit the crow named Jim Crow from their 1941 animated Dumbo film.
The live-action Lady and the Tramp film will stream exclusively on Disney+.
What do you think of these changes in general? Should Disney have left them in? Also, would the removal of the Siamese cats from Lady and the Tramp be off-putting? Let me know your thoughts!