Brow Beat

Janelle Monáe Will Reimagine Lady and the Tramp’s Racist Siamese Cat Song

The movie's animated Siamese cats.
Walt Disney Studios

Live-action reboots of animated classics, particularly those that feature anthropomorphized animals, have a tough job cut out for them. But when Disney announced that a live-action Lady and the Tramp would be coming to its streaming service, the project invited one especially tricky question: What would it do with the problematic “The Siamese Cat Song”?

Variety reports that Janelle Monáe, who has a voice role in the movie, and her artist collective Wondaland are “reinventing” the 1955 movie track, which has long been listed among Disney’s most racist moments for its stereotyped representation of East Asian culture. Originally recorded by Peggy Lee for the feline character pair Si and Am, the song opened with the lines “We are Siamese if you please/ We are Siamese if you don’t please” and presented the cat duo as sneaky and sly—adding to their problematic animated rendering with slanting eyes and buck teeth. In the new version, the pair will reportedly not be Siamese cats.

Monáe will additionally perform two original songs for the Charlie Bean–directed film, and there’s also the possibility that Wondaland will reimagine the film’s signature track “He’s a Tramp.” Now that we know the music’s in good hands, all we have to worry about is how the CGI will look on that crucial spaghetti scene.