Some Disney animated classics will now come on Disney+ with a new, stronger disclaimer that warns of their dated stereotypes of people and cultures. This week, the popular streaming service began rolling out messages ahead of movies that may contain “negative depictions and/or mistreatment of people or cultures.” While Disney+ included boilerplate content alerts as early as November last year when the streaming service launched, the advisories now go further to target specific movies and their cultural representations.
Films now labeled with content advisories include “Peter Pan,” “Dumbo,” “The Aristocats,” and “Swiss Family Robinson.” TheWrap noted that the disclaimer for such films reads, “This program includes negative depictions and/or mistreatment of people or cultures. These stereotypes were wrong then and are wrong now. Rather than remove this content, we want to acknowledge its harmful impact, learn from it and spark conversation to create a more inclusive future together. Disney is committed to creating stories with inspirational and aspirational themes that reflect the rich diversity of the human experience around the globe.”
The message ends with an educational call to action, encouraging viewers “to learn more about how stories have impacted society” by visiting disney.com/StoriesMatter.
The disclaimer attached to “The Aristocats” goes deeper to acknowledge the possibly harmful Asian stereotype represented by the alley cat Shon Gon: “The cat is depicted as a racist caricature of East Asian peoples with exaggerated stereotypical traits such as slanted eyes and buck teeth. He sings in poorly accented English voiced by a white actor and plays the piano with chopsticks. This portrayal reinforces the ‘perpetual foreigner’ stereotype, while the film also features lyrics that mock the Chinese language and culture such as ‘Shanghai, Hong Kong, Egg Foo Young. Fortune cookie always wrong.'”
Such disclaimers are similar to those Warner Brothers included with the DVD box sets of their classic “Looney Tunes” and “Merrie Melodies” cartoons, acknowledging that, while offensive, to censor the racism endemic to the cartoons’ period would be worse than simply showing it — that would be tantamount to denying those portrayals existed. Earlier this year, HBO Max similarly included a content advisory ahead of “Gone with the Wind” after, at first, pulling the movie, but then returning it to the streaming service. The David O. Selznick epic has been criticized for washing over the horrors of the Antebellum south.
IndieWire has reached out to Disney+ for comment.
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