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This Is the One Thing We Need the New Live-Action ‘Aristocats’ To Leave Out

Tom, Duchess, and the kittens smile on the couch in Aristocats.

Aristocats, Disney’s 1970 animated film about a group of Parisian cats, is a beloved musical romp. In the original film, Eva Gabor plays Duchess, a mother cat whose owner leaves her and her kittens everything she owns after she dies. However, when the butler abandons Duchess and her kittens in the countryside so he can claim the fortune for himself, Duchess has to rely on an alley cat named Thomas to help her and her family get home.

Now, Questlove, Oscar-winning director and drummer for The Roots, is directing a remake of the classic film. According to Variety, the remake will be a blend of live action and CGI. Questlove will also serve as an executive producer and oversee the film’s music.

However, despite the great news for Aristocats fans, some Disney fans are already identifying one aspect of the original film that should be left out of the remake: Shun Gon, a Siamese cat and racist caricature of Chinese people.

In the original film, Duchess and the others meet Shun Gon as they make their way back to Paris to reclaim their fortune. During one musical number, Shun Gon plays the piano with a pair of chopsticks, singing “Fortune cookie always wrong.” Shun Gon’s face is also designed to resemble racist caricatures.

Twitter user @thatsrach, in a thread of racist characters in Disney movies, shared a clip of the scene in question.

However, despite Disney’s extremely problematic past, there’s good reason to hope that they’ll do better in the Aristocats remake. Questlove’s first foray into directing, Summer of Soul, is an exploration of the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival and its deep ties to the Civil Rights Movement. Plus, Disney has made efforts at more inclusive casting in its upcoming remakes of The Little Mermaid and Peter Pan (now titled Peter Pan and Wendy). Disney spectacularly missed the mark in the original Aristocats, but now they have a chance to make it right.

(featured image: Disney)

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Julia Glassman (she/they) holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and has been covering feminism and media since 2007. As a staff writer for The Mary Sue, Julia covers Marvel movies, folk horror, sci fi and fantasy, film and TV, comics, and all things witchy. Under the pen name Asa West, she's the author of the popular zine 'Five Principles of Green Witchcraft' (Gods & Radicals Press). You can check out more of her writing at