'I was like, 'I don't want my son to see this,' Schumer admitted to Seth Meyers' show.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on May 10, 2022. It has since been updated.
Amy Schumer called out the children's entertainment and media conglomerate The Walt Disney Company for not doing enough to correct the notoriously problematic messaging in some of its classics. During an appearance on "Late Night with Seth Meyers," the 40-year-old spoke about how she's been trying to introduce her 3-year-old son, Gene, to Disney movies but finding it extremely difficult to let her son consume the racist, sexist, and offensive content. "We've been trying, but they're real problematic," the "Life & Beth" star admitted to Seth Meyers.
"I'm sure you've seen they have all the warnings now," Schumer said of the content warnings that are placed ahead of certain films on Disney+. "Just like, 'We're sorry!' You know, 'We're still going to show it to you!'" The stand-up comedian went on to reveal that although she was really excited to introduce Gene to "Peter Pan," she was aghast when a Native American caricature showed up within the first half-hour of the film. "And then all the women," Schumer continued, "mostly just the mermaids in Peter Pan, they're topless and they all speak in a whisper, 'Oh, Peter! Oh, I'm so wet. I'm a mermaid.'"
"Is that actual dialogue," a laughing Meyers asked incredulously, to which Schumer responded: "That's actual dialogue. Check it, check it!" While that isn't technically true, Schumer isn't far off about the sexual undertones of some of the scenes. The mermaids in the film do kind of "flirt" with Peter and get jealous when he introduces them to Wendy, even going as far as to aggressively splash her and pull her into the water while Peter chuckles. "I was like, 'I don't want my son to see this,'" Schumer said. "So we watched 'Jungle Book'... don't even try with that..."
Back in November 2019, Disney took a tentative step toward addressing its problematic past by slapping a mild content warning on some of its classics. The warning—which appeared within the descriptions of certain productions on the Disney+ streaming platform, warned users of "outdated cultural depictions" in those movies. A few months later, the company took another step toward reshaping its image for the next generation by removing several of these titles from the platform's kids' profiles. The movies that were pulled from profiles that indicate the viewer is 7 years old or younger included "Peter Pan," "Aristocats," "The Lady and the Tramp," "Dumbo," "The Jungle Book" and the live-action "Swiss Family Robinson."
Early animation was very racist. Taking animation history was very uncomfortable. They had to convey a lot of information quickly with few frames and little if any sound, reducing PoC into horribly offensive caricatures that were acceptable for way too long.— Xenosbreed 🏳️⚧️🌺 (@Xenosbreed) January 25, 2021
While these movies can still be accessed through adult Disney+ accounts, viewers are met with this strong condemnation of their contents: "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."
Streaming network Disney Plus has blocked young children aged 7 and under from watching "Peter Pan", "Dumbo" and "The Aristocats" after the three movies were accused of breaching content advisories for scenes of racial profiling.https://t.co/stOwP3pP2c— Sky News Australia (@SkyNewsAust) January 24, 2021
The content advisory also directs viewers to Stories Matter—an initiative launched a few years ago by The Walt Disney Company's various branches to reckon with its history of racist stereotypes and negative depictions. "Stories shape how we see ourselves and everyone around us. So as storytellers, we have the power and responsibility to not only uplift and inspire, but also consciously, purposefully, and relentlessly champion the spectrum of voices and perspectives in our world," the initiative's website states. "Because happily ever after doesn't just happen. It takes effort. Effort we are making."
"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. Rather than removing this content, we see an opportunity to spark conversation and open dialogue on history that affects us all. We also want to acknowledge that some communities have been erased or forgotten altogether, and we're committed to giving voice to their stories as well," it adds. "We can't change the past, but we can acknowledge it, learn from it, and move forward together to create a tomorrow that today can only dream of."