Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 15 December 2019

'This may contain outdated cultural depictions': Disney+ includes warning on controversial films

The newly launched streaming platform has added the caution on movies such as 'Dumbo', 'Lady and the Tramp' and 'The Jungle Book'

'The Jungle Book' is one film on Disney+ that comes with a warning about 'outdated cultural depictions'. Courtesy Disney
'The Jungle Book' is one film on Disney+ that comes with a warning about 'outdated cultural depictions'. Courtesy Disney

It has been crafting animated films for almost 100 years, but some elements of Disney's classics have not stood the test of time.

In light of the entertainment company being criticised for showcasing prejudicial or stereotypical representations in its work, Disney has included a warning on its new streaming platform.

Disney+, which launched on Tuesday, November 12, with hundreds of titles and TV shows, has added a warning on some of its children's films, advising viewers that the content "may contain outdated cultural depictions".

The warning can be found on movies including Dumbo, Fantasia, Peter Pan, Lady and the Tramp and The Jungle Book.

Each have been criticised for including racist imagery and promoting derogatory stereotypes.

The disclaimer is located in the titles' "details" section, following a brief synopsis of the film. "This programme is presented as originally created," the section states.

Dumbo, for example, features a number of problematic scenes, such as the crows who perform When I See an Elephant Fly. The lead bird is called Jim, referencing Jim Crow, an offensive slang term for a man of colour, popularised in the 1800s. The moniker was given to state and local laws that enforced racial segregation in the US, which were enforced until 1965.

The film, first released in 1941, also features a scene in which dark-skinned workers toil away building circus infrastructure, singing lyrics such as "we work all day / we work all night / we never learnt to read or write".

Disney+'s action has divided viewers, with some praising the service for acknowledging the insensitive content contained in films, while not ignoring such stereotypes existed by simply removing them from films.

Others, however, have accused the entertainment giant of failing to do enough, instead suggesting Disney should have edited such scenes out of its films entirely.

Some slated the warning's wording, saying it suggested that such depictions were normal for the time.

In contrast, Warner Bros, which has added a similar warning to some of its older material, stated that depictions of "ethnic and racial prejudices" were "wrong then and are wrong today".

Some Twitter users also highlighted that the disclaimer was not used on every title that featured problematic content, such as Aladdin.

Disney+ also carries a warning on films featuring footage of characters smoking, advising that content contains "tobacco depictions". The platform has, however, chosen to not include some titles on its platform, such as the highly controversial 1946 film Song of the South.

Disney+ contains a vast back catalogue of film and TV shows, with new series and films planned for the near future, such as a new Star Wars television series, TV programmes from Marvel featuring the characters Ms Marvel, Moonlight and She-Hulk, and a Monsters, Inc. spin-off, Monsters at Work.

The platform also features 600 hours' worth of National Geographic content, every Pixar film, every animated Disney movie, every Marvel film, every Stars Wars film and show, and all 661 episodes of The Simpsons.

Updated: November 13, 2019 11:31 AM

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