Disney has decided to put disclaimers before classic movies that portray racial stereotypes on their new streaming service Disney+. These movies include Dumbo, Peter Pan, and The Jungle Book, along with other movies that contain any racial undertones. While some people see the disclaimer as a great tool to address these issues and warm consumers about the offensive characters, some people argue this step isn’t enough. A chairwoman of American studies at the University of Maryland named Psyche Williams-Forson argues that the company “needs to follow through in making more robust statements that this is wrong, and these depictions were wrong.”
“This program is presented as originally created. It may contain outdated cultural depictions,” is the current disclaimer that appears before each viewing. On a mobile device or tablet, the disclaimer appears in the description of the program rather than displaying it before the movie starts.
In addition, Disney has decided to completely remove “Song of the South”, a 1946 hit that actually won an Oscar for the song “Zip-A-Dee-Do-Dah”. This movie features a character named Uncle Remus who strolls through a plantation and clearly contains racist depictions. Interestingly enough though, movies like Pocahontas and Aladdin do not feature the disclaimer, really blurring the lines of what exactly is socially acceptable.
I find this article interesting because it brings up a lot of questions about classic movies and if they are acceptable to play in a modern setting. I agree with what Disney has down because they are at least acknowledging what they did was wrong without completely removing the movies altogether. With that being said, I feel like more movies should feature this disclaimer because it seems like they only care about the movies with explicit racism, but the ones with subconscious undertones are fine. I guess everyone needs to ask what is the line, and when does Disney cross it?