Saturday, 31 October, 2020

Disney+ strengthens advisory on certain classic films with racist content

Courtesy of Disney Disney Adds ‘Racism’ Warning to ‘Dumbo,’ ‘Peter Pan,’ ‘Fantasia’ 13 Courtesy of Disney Warner Todd Huston16 Oct 2020
Adrian Cunningham | 17 October, 2020, 14:44

A message offered to viewers reads: "'This program includes negative depictions and/or mistreatment of people or cultures", the on-screen advice reads. "These stereotypes were wrong then and are wrong now", reads the new warning from Disney that pops up before the above titles and others. Moderately than take away this content material, we wish to acknowledge its unsafe affect, study from it and spark dialog to create a extra inclusive future collectively.

The statement also adds: "Disney is committed to creating stories with inspirational and aspirational themes that reflect the rich diversity of the human experience around the globe". Titles like Dumbo (1941), Lady and the Tramp (1955), The Jungle Book (1967), and The Aristocats (1970) all featured a warning in their plot descriptions, "This program is presented as originally created".

"Peter Pan" has a content warning for the depictions of pirates in the classic film.

Almost one year later amid a reckoning that has companies confronting their racist pasts, Disney has finally gotten around to updating and strengthening the language in the content advisory for the problematic films in question.

A smartphone with displayed "Disney" logo is seen on the keyboard in front of displayed "Streaming service" words in this illustration taken March 24, 2020.

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Other movies dating back to the 1950s 1960s and 1970s with the new warning include "The Lady and the Tramp", "Swiss Family Robinson", and "The Jungle Book". Similar to the Native people in Peter Pan, pirates speak in an indecipherable language, creating "a singular and racist representation of Asian and Middle Eastern peoples".

The Aristocats features a cat named Shun Gon with stereotypical East Asian features who plays the piano with chopsticks. This, Disney explains, creates mockery and appropriation of Native peoples' culture and imagery. The chief of the group in Dumbo is Jim Crow, which shares the identify of legal guidelines that enforced racial segregation within the Southern United States.

One notable film missing from Disney+ is Song of the South.

The film was never released on DVD or digitally.

But unlike Disney's treatment of Song of the South, which Disney has made a concerted effort to make unavailable on home video and streaming, the House of Mouse is attempting to have a fuller conversation about the racist elements of its beloved classics like Peter Pan, Dumbo, and The Aristocats.