Disney + Adds Disclaimer to ‘Dumbo’ and ‘Peter Pan’ For Representing Racist Stereotypes

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NEW YORK (AP) – DIS from Disney,
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The new streaming service added a disclaimer to “Dumbo”, “Peter Pan” and other classics as they portray racist stereotypes, highlighting a challenge media companies face when they resurrect older films of modern times.

The move comes as Disney Plus looks like an instant hit. It attracted 10 million subscribers in a single day. The warning reads: “This program is shown as originally created. It may contain outdated cultural representations.

Companies have been trying for years to challenge stereotypes that were in TV shows and movies decades ago, but seem shocking today. Streaming brings the problem to the fore.

In “Dumbo” from 1941, the crows who help Dumbo learn to fly are portrayed with exaggerated black stereotypical voices. The name of the main raven is “Jim Crow,” a term that describes a set of laws that legalized segregation. In “Peter Pan” from 1953, Native American figures are caricatured. Other Disney films with the disclaimer include “The Jungle Book” and “Swiss Family Robinson”.

See also: Before signing up for Disney +, this calculator adds up the “real” cost of your streaming services

“Pocahontas” and “Aladdin” don’t have it, despite rumors that these films also contain stereotypes.

On personal computers, the disclaimer appears in the text description of shows and movies under the video player. It is less visible on the small screen of a cell phone. Viewers are encouraged to press a “details” tab for a “tip”.

Disney’s warning echoes what other media companies have done in response to the problematic videos, but plenty of people are asking Disney to do more.

The company “must follow through by declaring more firmly that it was false and that these representations were false,” said Psyche Williams-Forson, president of American studies at the University of Maryland at College Park. “Yes, we are at a different time, but neither are we at a different time.”

She said it is important that the footage is shown rather than removed, as viewers should be encouraged to talk with their children and others about the videos and their role in our cultural history.

Disney’s warning is a good way to start a discussion about the larger issue of racism that is ingrained in our cultural history, said Gayle Wald, president of American studies at George Washington University.

“Our cultural heritage is ultimately deeply tied to our stories of racism, our stories of colonialism, and our stories of sexism, so in that sense it helps open questions,” she said.

Wald has said that Disney is “the most culturally iconic and well-known provider of this kind of storytelling and imagery,” but by no means the only one.

Universal Pictures’ teen comedy “Sixteen Candles” has long been criticized for stereotyping Asians with its “Long Duk Dong” character.

Warner Bros. encountered a similar problem with his “Tom and Jerry” cartoons available to stream. Some cartoons now also have a disclaimer, but that goes beyond Disney’s statement.

Rather than referring to vague “cultural representations,” the Warner Bros. calls its own cartoons for “ethnic and racial prejudice”.

“Although these cartoons do not represent today’s society, they are presented as they were originally created, because to do otherwise would be to claim that these prejudices never existed,” the statement said. .

Sometimes Disney has completely disowned a movie.

“Song of the South,” from 1946, which won an Oscar for the song “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah”, was never released for home video, and has not been shown in theaters since. decades, because of his racist portrayal of plantation worker Uncle Remus and other characters. It is also not included in Disney Plus.

Disney and Warner Bros. did not respond to requests for comment.

Sonny Skyhawk, an actor and producer who founded American Indians in Film and Television, found the two-sentence disclaimer to be missing.

What would serve minority groups better than any warning is simply giving them the chance to tell their own stories on a platform like Disney Plus, Skyhawk said. He said that when he talks to young Indian children, “the biggest negative is that they don’t see themselves represented in America.”

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