The Red Headed Wench Conundrum

© Disney
There has been much discussion about the recent news of Disney Parks altering a classic scene in its "Pirates of the Caribbean" ride. The change would take place at Disneyland and Walt Disney World in 2018 with the debut happening at Disneyland Paris when it reopens from refurbishment later this year. The scene in question is the bride auction with the beloved "Red Headed Wench" which has been cosplayed at many a convention. Instead of her now being a potential bride being auctioned off as a surly pirate cries, "We wants the Red Head," the character will now be a pirate herself auctioning off goods they've looted from villagers.

My immediate reaction is really of not caring. I love the classics, but I'm not so inflexible as to allow in change. For example, "its a small world" has always been my favorite attraction (and, yes, I never tire of listening to the song). When they announced they would be adding Disney characters to this classic attraction, I winced. But, when I rode it and saw what they did, I got over and accepted it. The characters didn't ultimately distract from the overall experience.

I'm not saying that all change is good. When Walt Disney World put its Enchanted Tiki Room "under new management," it was horrifying. That's because it completely changed the attraction. It was no longer an enchanting trip to a place where birdies sing but became a place where you were assaulted by Iago and Zazu to more modern tunes.

But, getting back to the attraction at hand - Pirates of the Caribbean. I can understand the reason why people are upset with the changes. Do people really need to be hand held through everything? Unless you are completely oblivious, the attraction essentially is a whimsical romp glorifying mauraders who pilage villages, murder people and rape women. So, is it revisionist history to not acknowledge the fact that these things happen?

I get that people can be overly sensitive about some things. For example, should we never show a superhero that can fly for fear a child will jump out of a window? When Bugs Bunny drops an anvil on Elmer Fudd's head, should we fear a child will also drop an anvil? Most of us grew up without any problems.

That said, we are not just talking about flight or anvils. The subject is rape is and should be a very serious topic and should be weighed heavily. Its easy for people to dismiss it if its not in their reality. But, I know people who have been sexually assaulted and it is not something easy to dismiss. You never want somebody to go through it let alone be glorified on a ride at Disneyland.

I've read many a person saying they "hate people who are PC" and calling people "SJW" (Social Justice Warrior, a pejorative term) and blame them for the change. The worst, though, is when somebody complains, somebody will type the word "triggered." This is a dismissive way of saying that somebody is too sensitive about rape or, even worse, implying somebody has been raped, having a flashback and that's why they're sensitive about rape. I mean, can people hear themselves when they type that word? The Internet can be a wonderful place until there is a disagreement and then people can suddenly become the worst people imagineable.

© Loren R. Javier
Truthfully, I've never gotten the fascination with pirates. They are not swashbucklers. They are not heroes. They are horrible people who do horrible things. I've never understood the reason why they're idolized. So, can I blame anybody who doesn't want to idolize them, especially for said terrible things they do, when I don't understand it myself?

So, if there are people who are rightfully offended by the scene and Disney has found a tasteful way to alter it, can it all be bad? What's wrong with a woman pirate? They did exist, as strange as the prospect sounds. The thing is that the Red Head will still be there. She will just be wearing holsters and carrying guns. And the purpose for the auction has changed. But, its not like they added contemporary music with disco lights. The scene will, for the most part, be the same.

And people are asking, "Why now? Why after 50 years is it being changed?" Well, why not?

Pirates has changed quite a bit since when it first opened in 1967. In 1997, the scene where the pirates chased the women in the village (another scene that implied rape) was changed to look like the women were chasing looters. And, in 2006, they added Jack Sparrow and other characters from the movies to the attraction. And we all lived through that all and we survived just fine. We will survive this. And, we may even come to love it.

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