Disney+ Warns Subscribers Of ‘Outdated Cultural Depictions,’ Prompting Controversy


Disney+ Warns Subscribers Of ‘Outdated Cultural Depictions,’ Prompting Controversy
by Aynslee Darmon
It’s been only three days since the launch of Disney+ and the streaming service is warning subscribers that some of its much-beloved films may contain “outdated cultural depictions.”

Among the selection of Disney classics advertising the new warning message are “Dumbo” (1941), “The Jungle Book” (1967) and “The Lion King “(1994), as well as many others that the company felt “may contain” racially or culturally insensitive scenes.

For example, the “blatantly racist” stereotypical depiction of Indigenous people resulted in Disney tagging “Peter Pan” (1953) with the warning. The same goes for “The Aristocats” (1970), where Shun Gon, the Siamese cat, plays a piano with two sets of chopsticks in another “racist” scene.

The note reads: “This program is presented as originally created. It may contain outdated cultural depictions.”

[import_caption url=”https://shawglobalnews.files.wordpress.com/2019/11/shun-gon-aristocats.jpg?quality=70&strip=all” caption=”Shun Gon the Siamese Cat from Walt Disney’s ‘The Aristocats’ (1970).” credit=”Disney” width=”1024″ height=”768″ ]

Disney has not outlined how each of its films might be considered insensitive by today’s standards beyond its single-sentence notice.

The vague and carbon-copy warnings resulted in a mass wave of subscribers criticizing the streaming giant over social media.

RELATED: ‘Maclunkey’ — Disney Plus ‘Star Wars’ Greedo edit leaves fans perplexed

First, while many seemed happy that their favourite Disney classics (excluding “Star Wars”) were unaltered, some were upset that the company didn’t take full ownership of the troublesome depictions.

One shocked Twitter user wrote: “They’re not ‘outdated cultural depictions’ — they were still racist then and calling them ‘outdated’ is just blaming it on the times. No apology, no reparations to the people they hurt.”

[gn_video id=6158790 title=”Disney+ experiences crashing due to high demand on launch day”]

Since its beginning in 1923, Disney has faced an abundance of controversy in this respect. Over the years, some of Disney’s character representations of people from specific races, cultures and religions have been heavily stereotyped and criticized as racist, leaving many of its viewers feeling alienated.

They are now widely considered to be offensive.

RELATED: ‘The Little Mermaid’ live-action film casts its Prince Eric

One of the few films that even wasn’t given an “outdated cultural depictions” warning, however, was Disney’s “Aladdin” (1992) — and many believe it should have. The film, based on an Arabic folktale, was given a warning only for heavy tobacco usage, just as 1940’s “Pinocchio” was.

Over the years, people have complained that the main characters, Aladdin and Princess Jasmine, have American accents, as opposed to the villainous Jafar, who has an Arabic accent.

“Pocahontas” (1995) is the film that seems to have raised the most eyebrows. Despite its Indigenous stereotypes and numerous historical inaccuracies, Disney omitted the warning.

The result? A mass of Disney+ subscribers took to Twitter to share their thoughts.

Hey @disneyplus why does Peter Pan have the warning of inaccurate cultural depictions but not Pocahontas? 

— Le-Tien Duong (@l8duong) November 14, 2019

The article doesn’t even mention Pocahontas, doesn’t even bring the movie up.

Of all the films @disneyplus not to add a warning on; the racist retelling of a child kidnapping doesn’t get one.#leaveMatoakaAlone https://t.co/aOxQLScmym

— dandan the transient (@DanDanTransient) November 13, 2019

Given the content warnings on some of Disney’s Disney+ releases, take a look at this clip and tell me what you think about the content, does it merit a warning? #DisneyPlus #disneycontentwarnings #disneycartoons #donaldduck #donaldduckbeachpicnic #WaltDisney #DisTwitter #WDW pic.twitter.com/5hjbXHm68E

— Disney Tips Guy (@disneytipsguy) November 14, 2019

The decision to forgo warnings on some of its more contemporary films seems to have sparked most of the backlash against Disney.

READ MORE: Disney Plus? Apple TV Plus? Here’s how major streaming video services in Canada compare

Perhaps Disney’s most notable offence could be the inclusion in “Dumbo” of a crow named Jim Crow — which was the name of an anti-African American racial caste system based in the southern U.S. states between the late 19th century and mid-20th century.

According to the Canadian Press, early reports suggested that the studio would remove the scene of crows; however, it was left unaltered upon the launch of the streaming service, prompting a wave of dispute online.

[import_caption url=”https://shawglobalnews.files.wordpress.com/2019/11/crows-dumbo.jpg?quality=70&strip=all” caption=”Timothy Q. Mouse and the much-beloved murder of crows, including Jim Crow, from Walt Disney’s ‘Dumbo’ (1941).” credit=”Disney” width=”1024″ height=”768″ ]

On the flip side, other subscribers were disappointed that the company took a “politically correct” approach to movies made decades ago by adding the messages and “sweeping moves like “Song of the South” under the rug.”

The controversial 1946 film was not made available on Disney+. It was best known for the song “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah” and for what many consider a minstrelsy portrayal of post-Civil War plantation workers.

@disneyplus @Disney I don’t understand…if you’re going to run what you call “outdated cultural depictions” on Dumbo, Lady and the Tramp, etc., then could you please explain to me why we can’t get Song of the South on Disney+ with the same ridiculous warning? Don’t hide history!

— Bryan Lords (@blords13) November 14, 2019

Many users also shared their belief that it is important to “acknowledge” movies like Song of the South to give younger and uneducated audiences insight into the history of racism, rather than hiding or “burying” it.

READ MORE: ‘Friends’ reunion special reportedly in works at HBO Max

Before the streaming service launched, Disney was faced with the question of how to present nearly a century of family entertainment history while also recognizing that many parents don’t want their young children to encounter racist depictions or culturally insensitive films without context.

In an effort to make their films more culturally appropriate, Disney has begun altering scenes and characters in many of their live-action remakes of classics, including Lady and the Tramp, which premiered with the Launch of Disney+.

Much like “The Aristocats”, the original 1955 film featured a Siamese cat. Two, in fact.

[gn_video id=6163049 title=”Disney Plus versus Netflix”]

Rather than including the characters, or simply omitting the problematic Siamese Cat Song, Disney replaced the cats with a pair of tabby cats and included a new musical number to replace the “outdated” one.

Global News has reached out to a representative of Disney seeking further comment.

Disney+ has not adjusted any of its content warnings.

— With files from the Canadian Press

Advertisements

Johnnyblue1 Entertainments & Lifestyles

AN ENTERTAINMENTS COMPANY FOCUSING ON PROMOTING ,MARKETING AND ARTIST MANAGEMENTS AND LIFESTYLES. Base in Accra- Ghana and Port Harcourt-Nigeria. C.E.O: John Gembi Nyamekye. You can reach us on Tel:+2348143982023 or +233244270706 Email: jbentertainments3@gmail.comcom Blogsite:johnnyblue1.blogspot.com

Leave a Reply