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Disney quietly removes movies featuring racist stereotypes from Disney Plus Kids profiles

While the films can still be accessed through adult accounts, viewers will now first see a condemnation of the content beforehand.

Disney quietly removes movies featuring racist stereotypes from Disney Plus Kids profiles
Cover Image Source: IMDb

Back in November 2019, Disney took a tentative step towards 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— which appeared within the descriptions of certain productions on the Disney Plus streaming platform, warned users of "outdated cultural depictions" in those movies. Now, the company appears to have taken a much more substantial step towards reshaping its image for the next generation by altogether removing several of these titles from the platform's Kids profiles. The movies that have been pulled from profiles that indicate the viewer is seven years old or younger include Peter Pan, Aristocats, The Lady and the Tramp, Dumbo, The Jungle Book, and the live-action Swiss Family Robinson.


According to The Verge, while these movies can still be accessed through adult Disney Plus accounts, viewers will be 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."


The content advisory also directs viewers to Stories Matter — an initiative launched last fall by its various branches to reckon with The Walt Disney Company's 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 continues. "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."


"To that end, we've brought together a group of experts from outside our company to advise us as we assess our content and ensure it accurately represents our global audiences. As we embrace each other's stories, we embrace possibility. And that's why we're committed to doing the best we can to represent communities authentically. So people not only see the best in themselves, but the world can see it too," the website adds. While Disney hasn't yet formally announced the changes to Kids accounts, it's fairly obvious why it chose to remove these particular movies from Kids profiles on its streaming platform.


Aristocats features a "racist caricature of East Asian peoples with exaggerated stereotypical traits such as slanted eyes and buck teeth," the Stories Matter website explains. "He sings in poorly accented English voiced by a white actor and plays the piano with chopsticks. This portrayal reinforces the "perpetual foreigner" stereotype, while the film also features lyrics that mock the Chinese language and culture." In Dumbo, "faceless Black workers toil away to offensive lyrics like 'When we get our pay, we throw our money all away'" — among other racist instances — and Peter Pan "portrays Native people in a stereotypical manner that reflects neither the diversity of Native peoples nor their authentic cultural traditions." Meanwhile, many of the pirates who antagonize the Robinson family in the live-action Swiss Family Robinson appear in yellow face or brown face and speak in an indecipherable language. 

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