The Walt Disney Corporation commonly referred to as Disney. Disney is an American international corporate media and production company with offices in Burbank, California, at the Walt Disney Studios Center. In the beginning, founded by brothers Walt and Roy O. Disney as the Disney Brothers Cartoon Studio on October 16, 1923, Disney also operated under the names of The Walt Disney Studio and Walt Disney Productions, before officially changing its name to The Walt Disney Company in 1986. Since diversifying into live-action film making, cable, and theme parks, the company established itself as a pioneer in the American animation industry.
(NEW YORK) — Disney’s new streaming service added a disclaimer for Dumbo, Peter Pan, and other movies as they portray racist stereotypes, reflecting the challenge facing media companies as they revive older films throughout modern times.
The move comes as it seems that Disney+ is an instant hit. In just one day, it received ten million subscribers. “This program is presented as created,” reads the disclaimer. It may contain outdated representations of culture.
For years, companies have been grappling with how to address stereotypes that appeared in television shows and movies decades ago but now look jarring. Streaming is bringing the issue to the fore.
In Dumbo, from 1941, crows are portrayed with distorted black racist voices that help Dumbo learn to fly. The name of the lead crow is “Jim Crow,” a term describing a set of laws that legalized segregation. Native American characters have caricatured in Peter Pan since 1953. Other disclaimer Disney movies include The Jungle Book and the Robinson Swiss Family.
Pocahontas and Aladdin don’t have it, with any rumbling that there are also prejudices in those movies.
The disclaimer appears below the video player on personal computers as part of the text description of shows and movies. It’s less conspicuous on the smaller screen of a cell phone. The viewer is instructed to tap “advisory” on a “details” tab.
Disney’s disclaimer echoes what other media firms did in response to problematic videos, but many people are calling on Disney to do more.
According to Psyche Williams-Forson, chairwoman of American studies at the University of Maryland at College Park, the organization “needs to follow through in making a stronger argument that this was false, and these representations were incorrect.””Yes, we’re at another time, but we’re not at another time as well.”
He said it is vital that the clips are presented rather than removed because audiences should be able to speak about the videos and their role in our cultural history with their children and others.
Disney’s disclaimer is the right way to start debating the broader issue of racism embedded in our cultural history, said George Washington University chairwoman Gayle Wald, American studies. “At the end of the day, our cultural heritage closely linked to our history of racism, our history of colonization, and our history of misogyny, so it serves to open up questions in that way,” she said.
Wald said Disney was “the most historically influential and well-known distributor of this kind of story and fantasy,” but it’s not alone in any way.
The teen comedy of Universal Pictures Sixteen Candles has long decried with its “Long Duk Dong” character for stereotyping Asians.
For his “Tom and Jerry” cartoons available for streaming, Warner Bros. faced a similar dilemma. Some of the pictures now also bear a disclaimer, but it goes beyond the statement made by Disney. The Warner Bros. report called its cartoons out for “ethnic and racial stereotypes” instead of pointing to ambiguous “cultural representations.”
“Although these cartoons do not represent the society of today, they are presented as they created, since doing otherwise would be the same as claiming that these prejudices never existed,” reads the statement.
At times, Disney has disavowed a movie entirely.
Song of the South, which won an Oscar for the song “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah” from 1946, has never been released for home video and has not been seen theatrically for decades because of its stereotypical portrayal of plantation worker Uncle Remus and other characters. It is also not included in Disney+.
Disney and Warner Bros. did not respond to requests for comment.
Song of the South, which won an Oscar for the song “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah” from 1946, has never been released for home video and has not been seen theatrically for decades because of its stereotypical portrayal of plantation worker Uncle Remus and other characters. It is also not included in Disney+. What would fit minority groups more than any disclaimer is merely offering them opportunities on a forum like Disney+ to share their own stories, Skyhawk said. He said that “the biggest negative when he speaks to young Indian kids is that they don’t see themselves reflected in America.”