Sky, the Comcast-backed pay-TV broadcaster in the U.K., has added “outdated attitudes” disclaimers to a batch of films, including the original animated “Jungle Book,” “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” and “The Last Samurai.”
Upon searching for Disney’s “The Jungle Book” on movie service Sky Cinema, a description now reads, “This film has outdated attitudes, language and cultural depictions which may cause offence today.” The same warning has been applied to Jon Favreau’s 2016 re-imagining of the classic movie.
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A check of nascent streamer Disney Plus, whose content is also available on Sky under the companies’ output deal, shows that that service already makes clear that films such as the original “Jungle Book” “contains outdated cultural depictions.” As previously reported, Disney had the warnings in place around the 2019 launch of the streamer.
Altogether, some 16 films on Sky Cinema now have an attached disclaimer, including Disney’s 1941 animated film “Dumbo;” kids’ classic “The Goonies;” Christopher Walken’s “Balls of Fury;” Eddie Murphy’s “Trading Places” and sci-fi sequel “Aliens.”
Other films include the original animated film “Aladdin;” 1939’s controversial classic “Gone With the Wind;” Peter O’Toole’s “Lawrence of Arabia;” Ben Stiller’s “Tropic Thunder;” “The Jazz Singer” from 1927; Shirley Temple-starring “The Littlest Rebel;” Disney’s “The Lone Ranger” and 1980’s “Flash Gordon.”
A Sky spokesperson told Variety: “Sky is committed to supporting anti-racism and improving diversity and inclusion both on and off screen. We constantly review all content on Sky’s owned channels and will take action where necessary including adding additional information for our customer to allow them to make an informed decision when deciding what films and TV shows to watch.”
The business recently committed £10 million ($12 million) to support anti-racism and inclusion efforts. Sky has said it will improve Black and minority ethnic representation “at all levels” of the firm, while working with anti-racism charities and highlighting racial injustice via select content acquisitions and commissions.
The move by Sky also follows heightened awareness among broadcasters and platforms about potentially offensive and discriminatory content within their libraries in the wake of a renewed global dialogue about race relations following the George Floyd protests.
Earlier this month, Netflix, BritBox and the BBC’s on-demand service iPlayer removed BBC comedy series “Little Britain” amid concerns over the BBC program’s use of blackface.
Last week, creators Matt Lucas and David Walliams apologized for their characterizations. Lucas, who is best known for roles in “Bridesmaids” and “Polar,” wrote on Twitter: “David and I have both spoken publicly in recent years of our regret that we played characters of other races. Once again, we want to make it clear that it was wrong and we are very sorry.”
Netflix also permanently removed four comedy shows featuring outspoken Australian performer Chris Lilley from its platform in Australia and New Zealand.
Meanwhile, in the U.S., HBO Max yanked 1939 film “Gone With the Wind” amid concerns around its own racial depictions. Executive Sandra Dewey told Variety earlier this week, however, that the platform will eventually reinstate the film, with “careful” framing.
Jacqueline Stewart, University of Chicago cinema professor and host of Turner Classic Movies’ “Silent Sunday Nights,” recently revealed in a CNN op-ed that, when the film returns to HBO Max, she will provide an introduction “placing the film in its multiple historical contexts.”
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