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Disney+ warns viewers of "outdated cultural depictions" in classic movies — but it's not enough

Disney+ warns viewers of "outdated cultural depictions" in classic movies — but it's not enough

The streaming platform has attempted to negate the prejudices embedded into their older content with a warning for today's viewers.

Have you ever rewatched an old movie or cartoon from when you were younger only to feel excessively uncomfortable by some of the things they depicted? Whether it's blackface, racist and sexist stereotypes, or cultural tropes, there's no doubt that most media is generally a product of its time. And it appears the same is true for Disney classics as well. Thankfully, audiences have become more progressive and aware as time went on. From Dumbo to The Jungle Book, both fan favorites and recently developed into high-definition animated movies in the 2010s, it appears that Disney too once embedded problematic prejudices into their productions. In order to combat this as they stream their classics on their new streaming service Disney+, they have introduced a content warning, Fox News reports.



 

The warning, which appears within the descriptions of productions on the platform, warns users of "outdated cultural depictions" in certain movies. "This program is presented as originally created," the warning at the end of the description states. "It may contain outdated cultural depictions." The warning is included in the descriptions of classic content such as Dumbo (1941), The Aristocats (1970), The Jungle Book (1967), and Lady and the Tramp (1955). Disney+ claims they made the decision to include the warning as the stereotypes presented in the movies could potentially be triggering to certain viewers.



 

They were definitely right to do so, as many of their older films have characters or songs that promote or make use of racial stereotypes. For example, Dumbo has been highly criticized for portraying two wise-cracking crows that speak in stereotypical African-American voices - played by a white voice actor. Furthermore, The Jungle Book features a group of monkeys picturized with negative, dated African and African-American characteristics. And of course, the infamous We Are Siamese song from Lady and the Tramp, too, has come under fire for its racial insensitivity. These are only mere examples of the blatant racism included in some of Disney's earlier work.



 

However, some believe the content warning is not strong enough. Many have compared Disney+'s warning to that of production house Warner Brothers'. The latter production house's warning for such content reads, "The cartoons you are about to see are products of their time. They may depict some of the ethnic and racial prejudices that were commonplace in American society. These depictions were wrong then and are wrong today. While these cartoons do not represent today's society, they are being presented as they were originally created, because to do otherwise would be [the] same as claiming these prejudices never existed." Needless to say, the Warner Brothers warning comes with a sense of accountability and ownership, unlike Disney+'s much weaker one. Perhaps the backlash from critics will inspire the streaming platform and the production house to take a stronger stance on the matter.



 

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