Disney Plus disclaimer now acknowledges ‘harmful impact’ of racist stereotypes

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The crows in Dumbo. The Stories Matter page on Disney’s site notes the characters’ connection to racist minstrel shows.


Disney

Since Disney Plus launched last November, experts have criticized the soft language used in its disclaimer on older titles like 1941’s Dumbo, that warned films “may contain outdated cultural depictions.”

Nearly a year later, on Thursday, Disney said that after consulting with a council of organizations representing minorities, it’s added a new disclaimer acknowledging the “harmful impact” of racist stereotypes in some of its older films.

“As part of our ongoing commitment to diversity and inclusion, we are in the process of reviewing our library and adding advisories to content that includes negative depictions or mistreatment of people or cultures,” reads a page titled Stories Matter on the Disney website. “Rather than removing this content, we see an opportunity to spark conversation and open dialogue on history that affects us all.” The page includes a section explaining in greater detail the negative depictions in certain titles.

The new disclaimer appears on screen before the start of movies like Aladdin, The Aristocats, Dumbo, Lady and the Tramp, Peter Pan, Swiss Family Robinson and The Three Caballeros. It 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 new content warning, appearing on screen before the movie starts.


Disney

Here’s the old disclaimer on Dumbo:


Disney Plus

Following the May police killing of George Floyd, a Black man, media companies like Sky and HBO Max have pulled content or attached warnings to prejudiced or racist material in their back catalogs, such as Gone With the Wind.

In June, Disney said it would retheme Disneyland’s Splash Mountain, basing it on the 2009 film The Princess and the Frog, instead of the 1946 southern plantation movie Song of the South.

However, experts continued to criticize the soft language used in the old Disney Plus disclaimers.

Disney could have used stronger language, which would more proactively invite a conversation around the context of these caricatures,” Swinburne University of Technology film and TV lecturer Jessica Balanzategui told CNET in June.

“These shouldn’t be watched by children by themselves,” Daryl Sparkes, senior lecturer of media studies and production at the University of Southern Queensland, told CNET, “because children are like little sponges and they soak up attitudes and feelings and opinions.”



Cnet