Disney’s much-anticipated streaming service has tacked warnings onto the beginnings of some movies indicating that they might include racist or otherwise offensive elements – a move that experts say begins to address the problem but fails to go far enough.
A message that airs before classic films including “Dumbo” and “Peter Pan” on Disney Plus says the movie is shown as it originally was made and “may contain outdated cultural depictions.”
This is really interesting — Disney+ is flagging when its movies have racist depictions pic.twitter.com/8wvtB0NmHn
— Jeva Lange (@Jee_vuh) November 12, 2019
The decision to attach this message to some animated films was met with both praises from people who viewed it as an accountability measure and criticism from those who thought its wording was dismissive. The mixed response, experts say, highlights the fact that Disney only has begun to take responsibility for the problematic representations.
Some of the movies — many of which were originally released in the 1940s and 1950s — contain scenes that would now be considered racist, offensive or inaccurate. For example, in “Dumbo,” there are crows that perpetuate racist stereotypes of African Americans. One of the crows is named “Jim Crow.”
One Disney film that isn’t available on Disney+ is “Song of the South,” 1946 musical with what is widely viewed as racist portrayals of former slaves after the Civil War.
Producing live-action versions of classic films has given Disney a chance to revise parts of movies that have been deemed insensitive. In the new live-action remake of “Lady and the Tramp” that debuted on Disney Plus, the Siamese cats that depict Asian stereotypes in the original movie are not portrayed as Siamese.
Disney is using its new platform to rewrite a ton of wrongs. This line of action should help the streaming service gain respectability with its consumers.