Disney has often taken flack for portraying some racist stereotypes in its movies, and now its Disney+ streaming service will display a warning before certain films start, warning viewers of those stereotypes. The message will appear before many of Disney’s older films, including “Peter Pan,” “Dumbo,” “The Jungle Book,” “The Aristocats,” Aladdin,” “Lady and the Tramp,” and “Swiss Family Robinson,” warning viewers of “negative depictions and/or mistreatment of people or culture.”
Disney took this even further with a post on its website singling out specific characters and explaining their racist implications. “Peter Pan,” for example, shows Native Americans speaking in an “unintelligible language and repeatedly refers to them” by a derogatory term, and “Dumbo” includes a racially insensitive depiction of crows performing minstrel shows.
“These stereotypes were wrong then and are wrong now,” the message reads, “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.”
The decision to introduce the disclaimer came after a consultation with a group of independent experts, who review how media portrays underrepresented groups and advocate for more thoughtful solutions. A similar decision was recently made by HBO Max for the classic, yet problematic, film Gone With the Wind.
In a video posted to Disney’s website, Geena Davis, the group’s gender-equality advocate, asked, “What message are we sending to little kids at the most vulnerable age, if characters are one-dimensional, stereotyped, sidelined, hypersexualized, or simply, not there at all? We can’t change the past, but we can acknowledge it, learn from it and move forward together to create a tomorrow that today can only dream of.”
The Disney+ disclaimers went live on Friday.