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August 19, 2022

The Alice In Wonderland Controversy Disney Probably Doesn’t Want You To Remember

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Of the issues surrounding Lewis Carroll’s work, this is by far the lesser in terms of severity, but more important in terms of visual presentation. It’s a widely held belief that Alice in Wonderland was heavily inspired by drug use, and even Disney’s animated version of the story features explicit drug imagery, although it’s a mystery how the studio could have told this particular story without them. Consider the potion Alice drinks to change her size, or the colorful smoke pouring out of the caterpillar’s mouth after taking a long drag on his honest hookah.

As noted by History Collection, Carroll used laudanum, a drinkable concoction of opium, morphine, and codeine that doctors prescribed for pain while he was alive. Although he was not found to have drunk laudanum recreationally (via BBC), the drug had the unfortunate side effect of being heavily addictive.

However, there is no evidence that “Alice in Wonderland” was inspired by drug use, and some experts have posited that the assumed drug connection speaks more to the reader’s prejudices than to the author’s intentions. Anyhow, it’s shocking that Disney has ever felt comfortable making a children’s film that dances so close to issues that American leaders have historically and aggressively criminalized.



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