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Wednesday, October 21, 2020

‘Wrong Then, Wrong Now’: Disney+ Strengthens Disclaimer About Racism In Older Films Including Dumbo, Peter Pan

Topline

Disney+, which last year added a content advisory for racism on several older films streaming on the platform, has added a stronger warning to films including Dumbo and The Jungle Book, following some viewers’ criticism last year that the platform’s initial messaging was not strong enough.

Key Facts

Disney+ has rolled out a new message on a handful of classic cartoons, which reads: “This programme includes negative depictions and/or mistreatment of people or cultures…These stereotypes were wrong then and are wrong now.”

Films with the new disclaimer include The Aristocrats and The Lady and the Tramp, which both depict negative stereotypes of Asian people, and Peter Pan, which contains racial slurs against Native American and First Nation people.

The initial disclaimer out last year read: “This program is presented as originally created. It may contain outdated cultural depictions.”

Key Background

As a growing number of entertainment streaming services breathe new life into old classics, the need to contextualise negative stereotypes and racist depictions that were widely accepted decades ago has become apparent. Disney+ isn’t the first streaming service to roll out this measure in the midst of a wider reckoning in the entertainment world following widespread anti-racism protests this year. In June, a then-new HBO Max temporarily pulled down 1939 film Gone With The Wind, saying it could not leave the film, often criticised for its glorification of slavery, on the platform without “explanation or denouncement” of those negative depictions. The movie returned two weeks later with a warning about the “horrors of slavery”.

Tangent

Some viewers pushed Disney to make its disclaimer more explicit like rival studio Warner Bros. “wrong then and wrong today” label when it launched the warnings in November.

Big Number

60.5 million. That’s how many subscribers Disney+ counts globally, CEO Bob Chapek said in August.

Further Reading

‘Gone With The Wind’ Is Back On HBO Max With A Warning About The ‘Horrors Of Slavery’ (Forbes)

Disney+ warns viewers about past racism, but not as well as Warner Bros. (The Verge)

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