Disney Plus Adds New Warnings to Movies With ‘Negative Depictions’ Of Race
If you go to watch some of Disney’s most famous movies on Disney+ this week, you’ll find a new addition to their runtimes: A fifteen-second disclaimer that appears at the start of films like Peter Pan, The Three Caballeros, and Lady and the Tramp warning viewers that their selection contains “negative depictions and/or mistreatment of people or cultures.”
The warning, a large block of white text on a black screen along with a countdown to the start of the feature presentation, also explains that “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’s addition of these warnings come as many streaming services have grappled with how to properly present — or not present at all — popular favorites from previous eras that include stereotypical (if not outright racist) depictions of various cultures. Earlier this year, HBO Max briefly removed Gone With the Wind from its streaming library, before adding it back along with a new introduction by film scholar and TCM host Jacqueline Stewart that placed its racist stereotypes into context, along with more details about the film’s production and reception. The BBC removed an episode of Fawlty Towers from streaming because it contained racial slurs — over the strenuous objections of series creator and star John Cleese.
Personally, I prefer HBO Max’s approach, which they have since replicated on other movies like Blazing Saddles. It allows viewers to watch these historically important titles, while also helping viewers understand what they are about to watch and why. (In the case of Blazing Saddles, Stewart noted that its use of slurs is very much done in the service of mocking and critiquing racism, not furthering it.) A disclaimer is fine, but a live human being actually explaining the material in an engaging way is far better.
Here is the full Disney+ content warning:
Gallery — What NOT to Watch on Disney+: