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20th Oct 2020

Disney+ adds content warnings to Dumbo and Peter Pan

Wil Jones

“These stereotypes were wrong then and are wrong now.”

Disney+ plus has added content warnings to several of its older classic films, advising that they feature “negative depictions and/or mistreatment of people or cultures.”

The message appears before films on Disney+ including DumboPeter PanThe Aristocats and Landy and the Tramp.

The unskippable screen appears for twelve seconds before the movie starts.

“This program includes negative depictions and/or mistreatment of people or cultures,” it reads.

“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.”

The message also leads to a website called ‘Stories matter’ which offers more information on why the films have been selected for warnings.

The website explains The Aristocats contains a “racist caricature of East Asian peoples with exaggerated stereotypical traits such as slanted eyes and buck teeth,” whereas Dumbo references “racist minstrel shows, where white performers with blackened faces and tattered clothing imitated and ridiculed enslaved Africans on Southern plantations.”

It also says that Peter Pan “portrays Native people in a stereotypical manner that reflects neither the diversity of Native peoples nor their authentic cultural traditions,” and “shows them speaking in an unintelligible language.”

The live-action Swiss Family Robinson is also flagged for including actors in “yellow face” or “brown face”, speaking in an “indecipherable language”, and “presenting a singular and racist representation of Asian and Middle Eastern peoples.”

One notable film missing from Disney+ is Song of the South. While a hit in its day, the 1946 live-action/animated hybrid has been widely criticised for its depiction of black people, and also for its perceived glorification of plantations.

The film has never been released on home video in America.