Disney animation studios has been around for quite some time now and has witnessed change in trends and has mostly witnessed revolutions in ideologies. Having said that, if we re-watch the classic Disney movies today, we might be caught off guard over a few of the movie scenes where representation has been frankly racist.
These movies were made by Disney in a time where the ideologies of people were completely different on topics that are now referred to as insensitive. Therefore, a lot of Disney’s classics have been observed to have racially insensitive material in them.
We can observe culturally insensitive representations in The Aristocrats’’ caricature of East Asian people through The Siamese Song, or Peter Pan’s stereotypical depiction of Native American people.
In order to fix this pertaining issue, Disney has taken a very different approach. Instead of taking down the movies from its streaming front, Disney+, it has decided to showcase a message regarding the insensitive content to encourage its viewers to rather have discussions on the topic than ignore it completely.
Hence, Disney has added the following content warning before the movies begin, “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.”
This message plays for a duration of 12 seconds before 1941’s Dumbo, 1953’s Peter Pan, 1960’s Swiss Family Robinson and 1970’s The Aristocats without the ability for the viewers to skip over it.
At the bottom of the message, Disney+ also encourages audiences to visit a section of the Disney site called “Stories Matter,” which is specifically devoted to the discussion of its intentions about delving into its harmful past and improving in the future.
If users click on the link, it directs them to a video. In the video, Thelma & Louise actress Geena Davis of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media speaks about the negative impact that movies such as these have on a young audience if they are not addressed and discussed properly.
On the Stories Matter page, Disney explains that rather than removing these offensive films from its library altogether, the company would like to use them as an opportunity to spark conversations about the history with racism depicted in these films.
Now there is one film that has been deemed too controversial to be placed on Disney+ at all. 1946’s The Song of the South has been the only fim to be completely traken down from the Disney library and will continue to be once Disney officially re-themes Splash Mountain into a tribute to Princess and the Frog, as announced by the company earlier this year.