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Fantasia: Sunflower by AtomicFireball Fantasia: Sunflower by AtomicFireball
The original version of Disney's classic "Fantasia" featured a character called Sunflower, a little black centaur handmaiden. Sunflower was an extremely insulting caricature, a blithely racist stereotype of the "servile grinning nigger" variety. Her sole function in the film was to eagerly polish and shine the hooves of the tall, sexy Aryan centaur women who glared down their petite noses at this scuttling servant whenever she got underfoot in her haste to make Mistress pretty.

Of course you've seen Fantasia, you know that the Aryan centaurs end up meeting a bunch of hot equally Aryan centaur boys and, presumably, getting it on to make cute Aryan centaur babies. But what becomes of Sunflower? Well, here's the answer: she's eliminated.

When the racial climate of America changed in the 60s, the portrayal of such insulting stereotypes in movies and television became politically incorrect, and Disney (fearing accusations of racism) deleted Sunflower from Fantasia for the theatrical re-release of the film. Her troubling presence was simply cropped out of the movie (though you can still see the Aryans she was pampering).

Disney has reportedly gone as far as to deny such a character ever existed at all--but on the Internet, NOTHING can be hidden from the world forever.

This is how we deal with our ugly past: we deny it, trivialize it, gloss over it with pretty distractions and wishful thinking. Doing so, we deny ourselves a glimpse of the compelling reality of naked history, warts and all. The well-meaning rush to unmake evil deeds by hiding them from the critical eye of modern sensibilities does nothing to honor the people who lived and struggled in those different times.

Her existence may be news to generations of Disney fans, but she's been here all along, waiting patiently offscreen for us to acknowledge her, and the American past that created her.

And so, this is not a fanart. It's a little wishful thinking of my own.

This is my Sunflower, who never served a mistress.
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Kakurosu Featured By Owner Feb 4, 2016
d'aaaAAAWW   look at her
so adorable !
aveture Featured By Owner Dec 29, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
When I first saw Sunflower, I thought of her more as a little kid wanting to help pretty up the older Centaurettes for their dates, not a servant. They weren't exactly "Aryan" either, they were pink, blue, yellow, and green.
inSYNCinSANITY Featured By Owner Aug 25, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
I always thought sunflower was adorable, she was definitely my favorite. It's like she was a dash of reality in an otherwise too perfect world.
The other centaurs were so stunningly beautiful and so unbelievably graceful, and then there was cute little sassy Sunflower.
I guess that's just me though :/
Kaori-Warbird Featured By Owner Jul 12, 2015  Hobbyist Writer
She's beautiful. Were I any good at animating, I'd remake the centaur scene and have Sunflower and her much maligned sisters (there are three "servant" centaurs altogether) on the same level as the other girls, having a slumber party all together and all equal. They'd be making each other up and doing each others' hooves and tails, and in the end, all the centaurettes would get paired up equally.
wasfight17 Featured By Owner Nov 8, 2014  Hobbyist Filmographer
i thought she was pretty
ZADRgirl2113 Featured By Owner Apr 19, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
This is how she should have looked and you did a beautiful job at capturing just that! 
CobaltPaintBrush Featured By Owner Dec 15, 2012  Student Digital Artist
this version is absolutely adorable!!!

I hate how the canon Sunny was portrayed....her facial expressions, her exagerated racist features....UGH!!

at least she had a backbone when one of the bitch centaurs slapped her face with her tail (this was when she was trying to decorate it)

I cant believe people in the 30s to 40s thought this was okay... >_>
kentauros Featured By Owner Nov 15, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
She's the epitome of cute! :D
Great job re-visualizing her :)

Now, I'm going to give you a link to an animation blog with a small collection of model and suggestion sheets from the film [link]

And I'll just have to come back to this later this weekend with links to all the other illustrations and such made during the pre-lim stages of the film. Seems in one such illustration that the female attending to the centaurettes was what looked like a wood nymph! That certainly would have changed things a bit...
kentauros Featured By Owner Nov 16, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
And a few more links for you :)

My Delineated Life - [link]

Vintage Disney Memorabilia - [link]

Michael Sporn Animation - [link]

Cowan Collection Animation (dA doesn't like this link in orig format) -

Centaur and Centaurette Maquette (made for Disney’s “Fantasia”) - [link]

And some images I found somewhere, for your enjoyment :)

Big stallion - [link]

Big centaurettes - [link]

Bathing scene - [link]

w7147439 Featured By Owner Dec 2, 2012
nice links i like all the art, do you think sunflower is cute in the movie as well?
kentauros Featured By Owner Dec 9, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I think she's cute, too. I don't like how she was used in the film, yet it is a product of the 1940s. I hope that today's Disney Corp undoes all the edits since that time. It's a disservice to the art of that film.
w7147439 Featured By Owner Dec 9, 2012
i see what you mean, although i wish in a way she wasnt edited out because, people can learn about mistakes and i like sunflower, but if i could redone the film, it would be the other centaurettes helping her, instead of her helping them
JudeDeluca Featured By Owner Nov 14, 2012
There was another Centaurette like Sunflower. Her name was apparently Otika.

Lorna-RoseFoX Featured By Owner Sep 29, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
This Sunflower is what she should have been
every one no matter the skin tone or gender has their own beauty.
Rumdiculous Featured By Owner Sep 16, 2012
Right on.
Growlytastic Featured By Owner Sep 9, 2012
This is really beautiful, I love it. I can see why the film was censored, but don't support it. Everyone has done things they aren't proud of, but you have to own and take credit for them to move on from them. Simply pretending like they didn't exist is an insult.
w7147439 Featured By Owner Jul 10, 2012
i think sunflower is a cute character in fantasia she is now one of my favorite disney characters, but i got to admit it was kind of racist of disney to do that but i think they didnt do this to be mean disney was a nice guy
BreeLynne Featured By Owner Jul 8, 2012
Disney did the same thing with Song of the South. It was "incredibly racist" (from the words of my friends mother who saw it in theaters as a little girl), so what does Disney do? Never show it again, never release it to the public. Learn from your mistakes, don't make it seem like they never happened. Goodness Disney.
ToraKatt Featured By Owner Jun 25, 2012  Student Traditional Artist
Awww!! She is just too darling! :heart: I absolutely love her sweet demeanor and little smile
Hawkheart29 Featured By Owner May 4, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
While I agree that the idea behind her was wrong, she should have not been cut; for a wise man once said "those who don't learn from histor are doomed to repeat it" now I ask you, how are we suppose to learn from history if it is erased?
wardude69 Featured By Owner Mar 5, 2012
yet.... the zebra- featherfan wenches to the wine-god were kept in some versions!

sure, they were awesome hot, but fat-lipped, jungle-haired...
skinnedkitten Featured By Owner Feb 3, 2012
Oh you have taken me back to my pleasantly ignorant childhood! I never saw her as a child though and it was a shocker when I uncovered the ugly truth about Disney. It was all the more insulting that she was a little donkey centaur too, they just had to take the insult that little bit further. Your rendition of Sunflower as an adorable little foal girl makes my day! I so wish her and the other two handmaidens had gotten a little centaur boy also!
Koko-pelli Featured By Owner Jan 12, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Oh I wouldn't give Disney such a bad rap for creating a character such as Sunflower. I mean it was the 1940's when this film came out so of course the people of that time would not know better.
AtomicFireball Featured By Owner Feb 2, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
I agree, this sort of thing is definitely a relic from a very different time--the real problem was Disney trying to cover up that it ever happened, then continuing to be dicks about it.
Cjrpos Featured By Owner Jan 8, 2012
I really like this.
glossolaliablack Featured By Owner Dec 16, 2011
Check out Coilhouse, you're being featured!
AtomicFireball Featured By Owner Dec 16, 2011  Professional Digital Artist
WHOA! I am so happy right now. Thanks for the heads-up, L. This made my day. I had no idea other people were drawing SF and the other 'taurs of color besides me. D'awwwww.
redBLaCKroseBLuDe Featured By Owner Dec 15, 2011  Student Traditional Artist
and i absolutely love her, and i think i would have preferred that disney had made the other centaurs of different colors, besides blond-blue eyed as is implied by "aryan"
SubtleAssiduities Featured By Owner Dec 5, 2011  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I always thought it was such a shame that Sunflower got the short end of the stick, what with being that gross show of racism in Disney, because from the small clips I've seen of her, she was absolutely adorable. She's adorable in this picture as well C:

It's a shame that we think that we can so easily erase the ugly parts of the past. How do you learn from what you pretend didn't happen?
Lulumewtrainer Featured By Owner Nov 21, 2011  Student Traditional Artist
i remember seeing Sunflower in an uncut scene from Fantasia. But that was when i was younger. I only thought about how "cute the little fole girl" was. I wasn't aware that all the "servant" centaurs were black. Just that all of them were pretty...
strangah Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Lovely. Simply lovely. If she WERE to ever end up in the film, even as a slave. {ouch} I would enjoy seeing her like this. :clap:
drunkpimp3000 Featured By Owner Jul 16, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
I'm glad you erased the stereotype and took the character back. It's an adorable rendition of her. Like song of the south, it's a shame that Disney as a corporate entity is trying to bury deep so the ignorance of the past won't come to light and hurt their dvd sales (and destroy that warm friendly image of 'Old Uncle Walt'). It is rewriting history, and I think their needs to be more discussion and examination of horrible stereotypes and derogatory characters like this. Although this character is the most blatantly racist example, it's just the tip of the iceberg if you really examine these seemingly innocuous old children's films.
NeoMT Featured By Owner Jul 5, 2011
In all my racial ptsd, sometimes I do want to bury hateful images and disassociate from them, but they have to be acknowledged. I'm glad that you took Sunflower and re-imagined her.
GuzuGuzu32 Featured By Owner Jul 1, 2011  Professional General Artist
Your picture is quite lovely. I do admit that seeing the character Sunflower in her original guise was a bit disturbing, yet her portrayal is not that surprising. Minority actors and actresses were a rare in those days outside of the typical role of slave, servant, or second rate character. The cartoon industry just followed what was in the motion picture industry, an idea not uncommon today. With the exception of actors such as Harry Bellfonte, Dorthy Dandrige, and Carmen Jones, very few Black actors and actresses ever got to be on the silver screen much less play the main characters. This went for Asian actors as well, that why the movie "The Flower Drum Song" was such as surprise to me. The cast were all Asian and they were front and center, not secondary characters. I don't defend Disney, Warner Bros. or the others for their gross caricatures of other races but I do understand that in another time and place this kind of entertainment was acceptable. In a way it was okay to be naive to other people and other ethnics, now we cannot be so callous and that is why these characters have no place in main stream society, yet they teach us or rather let us see through the eyes of another from a different era. If one ever questions what people were like, or how people lived during a certain time, look no further than a cartoon, behind the angst, gags, and pitfalls there's real life just beneath the surface.
kogenator Featured By Owner Apr 12, 2011   Traditional Artist
this is very nice. i love your thinking on it :)
DecoPinkDingo Featured By Owner Apr 4, 2011
disney doesnt have anything to be ashamed of, they should have fessed up. after all, pre-60's that was just normal in media. they werent horribly mean spirited or anything toward Sunflower like some movies from back then. denying it ever happened is way worse then putting it there in the first place.
im also against editing and censoring in general and think they should have left her in- responsible parents could explain to their children that it was a different time and if a child is to young to understand that, they're probably to young to be watching fantasia anyway.

youve drawn her in such a sweet way<3 i love it
dash-of-balder Featured By Owner Mar 30, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
I'll just be adding this to the "Reasons Luka is One Seriously Awesome MOFO" list now.

She's gorgeous. Thanks for this.
kosaki-koi Featured By Owner Mar 27, 2011
If I were the Disney producer of this movie at that time, I wouldn't have gotten rid of her. I would have made her like the other Aryan centaur women, tall and beautiful. And she would have been the most beautiful of them all. :)
DisneyFTW1 Featured By Owner Mar 11, 2011
Well, at least this image is not as offensive and racist as the original version. I'm not a racist or anything (those that refuse to see Princess/Frog because of African American characters: SHAME ON YOU. Seriously, I heard that this made a few people angry. Don't know if it's fully true or not.) but the removal of the character is somewhat of a good thing. She was a display of a stereotype, which was wrong back then AND IS STILL WRONG TODAY. (does it mean that it's still wrong to present Song of the South with the stereotype dialogue? Not fully true. The film still is family-friendly. It's just viewed in a wrong perspective) Had sunflower look less stereotypical in the first place, or at least re-animate the scene with either a white version of Sunflower or no-stereotypical version of the original, we wouldn't be making a fuss over this situation. ... wait a minute, reanimate. OF COURSE! WHY DIDN'T THEY DO SO IN 1969?!

Also, interesting fact: for the 2010 Blu-ray/DVD of Fantasia, rather than zooming or cutting out the scenes, Disney digitally erased Sunflower (ok, there still is some zooming, but not to the point that it loses detail), pretending that she never existed.
Moonpuppy607 Featured By Owner Mar 9, 2011
You know what? She's a real cutie, and I think it would be greta for he to reappear in a part. Alas, it will probebly only remain wishful thinking.
hlootoo Featured By Owner Feb 7, 2011  Hobbyist Artist
I'm black and I thought she was cute. I think the job itself was insulting but not her. Some black people DO have lips like that. Like my choir instructor.
AtomicFireball Featured By Owner Feb 7, 2011  Professional Digital Artist
I love full lips. How awesome must kissing be?
CapcomWarrior Featured By Owner Feb 3, 2011  Student General Artist
I bet in some ways, I wish she would come back, but in a way that would lift up the African American figure rather than degrade it.
Throneofsouls Featured By Owner Dec 27, 2010   General Artist
She's a real cutie
uncooked-rice Featured By Owner Nov 1, 2010
Your little speech made me smile. Lovely character and opinion. I have never thought about it that way before. You seem to have a good heart as well as a great ability to express emotions through art. :D
Keep on inspiring!
plutoperson Featured By Owner Oct 17, 2010
I have to admit that this part of Fantasia "Songs of the South" was my favorite part of the film, but then, I saw the UNCUT version of the original Songs of the South on Youtube. When I saw Sunflower and (I believe) two other black children centaurs servicing away all *happy-like* to the white centaurs (especially the one with many little light-blue ribbons in her hair) I was like "WHOA!" After seeing the real version, I can no longer watch this part of Fantasia anymore.
You know, it is utterly amazing on how we as younger children watch old cartoon shows like Tom and Jerry and Droopy and completey overlook the racism that was part of the cartoon of the time. Remeber times when Tom has a stick of dynomite in his hand and it explodes on his face? I always thought that the reason why his face turned black was because of the soot. Now, after watching the cartoons again on Youtube and reading the reviews, I know see the racism and I'm pratically doing a double-take on those types of shows. Yes, Fantasia, Tom and Jerry and Droopy, etc..were made before the Civil Rights, but still...

Sorry for the long rant. Your version of Sunflower is adorable! I'm glad she doesn't serve anyone.
RebelStarwarrior Featured By Owner Oct 14, 2010
She's so pretty. This is how she should have been, never having to serve the Aryan centaurs...
cheeriocheetah Featured By Owner Oct 3, 2010
Thank you for this, both the art and analysis.
swandog Featured By Owner Sep 29, 2010  Professional Traditional Artist
She's absolutely beautiful; love the way you've drawn her! <3 I was sad that she didn't find a boy of her own and was so mistreated by the others. :( (And yes, I clearly remember her from watching the original Fantasia in my early childhood.)
Feliangimus Featured By Owner Sep 19, 2010
She's cute and I dont think there would be anything wrong about having her serving a misstress, if she just appeared equally beatifull like this, wasn't treated like shit and maybe found a boy of her own, having a happy ending like the others. :)
The sad thing about the original sunflower was that she wasn't appreciated by the others.
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