Disney is streaming on Disney+ an edited version of the 1942 movie Saludos Amigos that lacks a scene of Goofy smoking a cigarette despite the film being labelled as uncut. It’s not the first time that Disney has altered its old catalogue, but it does raise questions about transparency on the relatively new streaming platform.
If you watch Saludos Amigos on the Disney+ app, text in the description says, “This program is presented as originally created. It may contain outdated cultural depictions.” But the movie that’s streaming online isn’t how it was originally created in the 1940s.
Aside from warning about “outdated cultural depictions,” the Disney+ version of Saludos Amigos also has a warning about smoking. The G-rated film flashes a warning that it “Contains tobacco depictions,” despite the fact that Goofy’s smoke rings are edited out.
Gizmodo put together a video with both versions so you can see the difference.
Curiously, there’s another smoking scene in the film that didn’t get edited out. The character of Jose Carioca, a Brazilian parrot, can be seen smoking in one of the last segments of the film after Donald Duck’s spicy drink comes shooting out of his mouth to light Jose’s cigar.
It’s not clear why parrots can smoke but cowboy-dogs like Goofy can’t.
According to multiple reports online, Disney removed the scene of Goofy smoking for the DVD release of Saludos Amigos, but the smoking was restored for the Blu-Ray release, as well as when the film was included as an extra for the 2008 documentary Walt & El Grupo—the story of how Saludos Amigos got made at the request of the U.S. State Department as propaganda during World War II.
There are a lot of movies on the Disney+ service with “outdated cultural depictions,” from the crows of Dumbo (one of the birds is literally named Jim Crow) to the racist depictions of Native Americans in Peter Pan. But smoking is arguably more controversial than racism for Disney and other media companies, which started getting heat in the 1980s and ‘90s for depictions of tobacco use in TV and movies that were aimed at children.
Disney even photoshops old photos of Walt Disney to remove his signature cigarettes in Disneyland. As a heavy smoker, Disney died in 1966 of smoking-related illness.
At the end of the day, it’s probably fine to cut smoking scenes out of Disney movies that are aimed at kids. They’re not going to miss it, and the normalisation of smoking has killed literally millions of people around the globe since public relations men discovered in the 20th century they could make people accept the practice. But for people obsessed with history (and that includes a lot of Disney fanatics) we just want to know when we’re watching an edited version of the film, however minor.
Gizmodo reached out to Disney, which wouldn’t comment on the record about the removal of Goofy’s smoking scene. But oddly enough, it sounds like they’re not going to change the disclaimer to make it clear that it’s not the original cut of the film. Instead, it sounds like Disney is going to restore Goofy’s smoking scene. We’ll see what happens.