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Disney+ adds new content warning for racist depictions in classic films

Timothy Q. Mouse rides in Dumbo's hat as the elephant flies
“Dumbo” now features a new content warning on Disney+.
(Walt Disney Co.)

Classic movies that feature racists stereotypes and other problematic elements now include a new content warning on Disney+.

When viewers choose to play movies such as “Dumbo,” “Aladdin,” “Peter Pan,” “The Aristocats” and “Swiss Family Robinson” on the Disney streaming service, a written disclosure about its “negative depictions and/or mistreatment of people or cultures” is presented on the screen for 12 seconds. The message cannot be skipped.

According to Disney’s Stories Matter website, the company is in the process of reassessing past titles with an advisory council composed of outside organizations such as the African American Film Critics Assn., the Coalition of Asian Pacifics in Entertainment, the National Assn. of Latino Independent Producers, the GLAAD Media Institute and others.

Instead of editing or removing library titles that have been identified as problematic, the aim is to acknowledge them and open up discussions so people can learn from those mistakes. (“Song of the South,” a 1946 movie deemed so racist that it was never included in the Disney+ library, remains unavailable.)

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Disney announced a new theme based on “The Princess and the Frog” for Splash Mountain, long criticized for its association with the racist film “Song of the South.”

Previously, some of these films included a shorter warning within the description on their individual homescreens. “This program is presented as originally created,” it read. “It may contain outdated cultural depictions.”

The full disclosure presented on these films now reads:

“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.

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“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.”

AT&T’s WarnerMedia pulls ‘Gone With the Wind’ from HBO Max but plans to return it with disclaimers about the 1939 film’s ‘painful stereotypes.’


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