Some Disney Films Now Have a Content Advisory Warning for ‘Negative Depictions’ of Race

Hindsight is 20/20. But we should still warn people about the times our vision was obscured. 

Movies of the past can be vast wonderlands of exciting stories and beautiful visuals, but when it comes to sensitive depictions of race and other cultures, they usually fall short. This goes for animated movies along with live-action. 

When Disney+ opened its catalog, a lot of younger viewers were startled by some of the depictions of other races in their older movies. Films like The Aristocats, Dumbo, Peter Pan, and Swiss Family Robinson are ones that Disney now says feature “negative depictions and/or mistreatment of people or cultures.”

Here's the official disclaimer viewers might see: 

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.”

Aside from that generic statement, Disney also goes into detail about exactly what was wrong. 

For instance, this is from The Aristocats: “The cat is depicted as a racist caricature of East Asian peoples with exaggerated stereotypical traits such as slanted eyes and buck teeth. He sings in poorly accented English voiced by a white actor and plays the piano with chopsticks. This portrayal reinforces the ‘perpetual foreigner’ stereotype, while the film also features lyrics that mock the Chinese language and culture such as 'Shanghai, Hong Kong, Egg Foo Young. Fortune cookie always wrong.'"

We've seen these kinds of disclaimers run before movies like Gone with the Wind, and I think they're going to be important moving forward. We can't lose Hollywood history. We need these films for research and to preserve the catalog of what makes us who we are. But as new people find them, especially impressionable young people, we need to provide context and let them know where mistakes were made. 

Have you seen one of these disclaimers on Disney+? Let me know what you think in the comments.     

Your Comment

6 Comments

I think that these disclaimers might be needed for this coming generation (because it directly connects to the generation that these artworks were made for, so clashes could be had), but not the one thereafter. Society evolves, and by then, it should be automatically understood that culture & arts of a bygone era are often outdated, or simply, different.

I was watching Goodmorning Vietnam the other day, and I couldn't stop thinking that when I was a kid in the late '80s I found the film super funny, but now I can see how some of Williams' jokes can be seen as racist. So for the current new generation, a disclaimer might be needed. But for the one after that, it won't be needed anymore, because it will be seen as "historical", rather than "contemporary".

October 19, 2020 at 8:06PM

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Eugenia Loli
Filmmaker, illustrator, collage artist
740

That makes no sense. People are getting crazier by the day regarding actual or alleged racism, with the result that a lot of books etc. get "PC-fied". The reason there probably won't be any disclaimers is simply because everything gets "rectified" retroactively. This insanity already goes into news and stuff until not even facts can't be stated anymore. What a fantastic world.

October 20, 2020 at 5:36AM

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DingDong
2281

I remember the crows from Dumbo as a kid. I knew they were supposed to represent a group of black people but at that time I didn't find it offensive or insensitive. I actually found it funny and it was one of my favorite moments from the movie. I actually still don't feel offended mainly because its so old and from another time. But I must also say that I'm not the most sensitive black dude either so some people may feel differently about it than I do. I also remember the racially insensitive Tom and Jerry & Looney Tunes cartoons when dynamite explodes in their face and they start talking that "country slave talk lingo". As a kid I was cracking up at those jokes while I clearly knew they were making fun of black people. I still find them funny but I also think those cartoons are meant for the people who remember them from that time.

October 22, 2020 at 2:41AM

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Dantly Wyatt
Writer, Director, Content Creator.
969

I hope I die soon

October 22, 2020 at 11:37AM

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Paul Gee
Filmmaker
93

The stupid are getting stupider just when you thought it wasn't possible to get any more stupid. 10 viewers out of 9 would simply enjoy the film; plastering overtones of your political correctness on top, forcing interpretations that were in no way there from the get go, is simply to continue to reconstruct history in your own image and likeness - put a sock in it; put a whole drawerful of socks in it. Young viewers were "startled" because they've been brainwashed by the education system and social media.

October 22, 2020 at 12:19PM, Edited October 22, 12:21PM

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I can now understand how and why someone can become a recluse. Who wants to be part of such a pathetic society of bleeding heart busy-bodies, so tortured with assumed guilt over things that happened before they were born.

Tiresome nannies.

October 22, 2020 at 1:06PM

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Graham HAY
Managing Director, Helicam International Ltd.
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