Disney Has Updated Disney Plus’s Content Warning for Old Racist Movies

Disney Has Updated Disney Plus’s Content Warning for Old Racist Movies
The Disney Plus logo. (Image: Disney)

When Disney Plus launched, it did so with a vague warning attached to some of its older, more, well, racist content, citing them as outdated. Recently, that warning got a whole lot more specific.

As pointed out by NPR, Disney has recently changed the message that appears before certain streaming content on Disney Plus, strengthening and elaborating the message. The message is now much more specific as to what sort of content is being referred to and contains a link to a Disney website containing more information.

Here’s what the advisory reads as now, via Disney:

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.

To learn more about how stories have impacted society, please visit www.disney.com/StoriesMatter

The linked website includes more information about Disney’s motives for including the advisory, which are purportedly “to spark conversation and open dialogue on history that affects us all” and “acknowledge that some communities have been erased or forgotten altogether, and we’re committed to giving voices to their stories as well.”

Later on, the page also includes some pretty interesting explanations for a few example pieces of content, all old Disney films: Aristocats, Dumbo, Peter Pan, and Swiss Family Robinson. Here’s Disney’s own description of Dumbo’s racist content, for example:

The crows and musical number pay homage to racist minstrel shows, where white performers with blackened faces and tattered clothing imitated and ridiculed enslaved Africans on Southern plantations. The leader of the group in Dumbo is Jim Crow, which shares the name of laws that enforced racial segregation in the Southern United States. In “The Song of the Roustabouts,” faceless Black workers toil away to offensive lyrics like “When we get our pay, we throw our money all away.”

Which, yes, that is extremely racist. The move feels like a response to criticism of the original advisory message, which was very general about what sorts of content had engendered the advisory in the first place, which, so far as conversation starters go, isn’t exactly effective. This definitely seems like a move in the right direction.

The Stories Matter webpage also includes a list of advisors behind the company’s diversity program and the new messages on Disney Plus; the list includes the African American Film Critics Association and the GLAAD Media Institute.