There’s a good amount of beloved vintage Disney content that peddled anti-Black and anti-Indigenous ideology, often with a jaunty tune. Peter Pan is especially guilty of this with its depiction of Tiger Lily, as is Dumbo, which based the crows and minstrel imagery that boiled Black people down to stereotypes. All are currently available on Disney+, but the streamer has no plans to follow the examples of their competition and remove the content (which, in the grand scheme of things, only benefits those who made the content in the first place). Instead, the nearly one-year-old platform has opted to add an updated disclaimer ahead of their controversial titles, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Now, when users stream either of these and similarly scrutinized films, they will be met with a message that says, “This program includes negative depictions and/or mistreatment of people or cultures.” If only there was a single word they could use here that would mean “the mistreatment of people based on their culture.” Ah well.
To be clear, Disney+ has been implementing content warnings on some of its old films since launch. This updated language, however, comes at the heels of consultations with groups like the African American Film Critics Association, Coalition of Asian Pacifics in Entertainment and GLAAD. Prior to the update, the warning was only viewable on the “Details” page of the desired film, which users had to voluntarily view. Now, the disclaimer is both on the detail page and automatically shows just before the feature begins. “These stereotypes were wrong then and are wrong now,” the disclaimer reads. “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.”
Other films tagged with the disclaimer include The Aristocats for its racist depiction of East Asians via the Siamese cats Si and Am, and The Swiss Family Robinson, which THR notes is “cited for pirates depicted as a ‘stereotypical foreign menace” as they don yellow face or brown face and portrayed as barbaric. The move is considered a part of Disney’s Stories Matter initiative, which details how each of these images are harmful to communities of color.