Disney+ Release of Disney Classics With “Outdated Content” Warning Sparks Debate Online. Earlier this week, we shared that Disney has added a disclaimer in the detailed description of several Disney Classic films stating: “This program is presented as originally created. It may contain outdated cultural depictions.” some other titles include warnings saying, “Contains tobacco depictions.”
Such titles include films like Lady and the Tramp, AristoCats, Peter Pan, Dumbo, and more. Though Disney seems to acknowledge these issues by adding the disclaimer, many fans online are sharing their outrage over these depictions featured in the classics. An individual garnishing much of the attention in this debate is Lauren Robertson. Lauren in a currently studying language at Aberdeen University and wrote an article through The Tab, which is causing massive uproar online. It also should be noted, Lauren does seem to both be drawing attention to the “issues” she has spotted, but also lines the problematic story elements with some light humor in the full article to ease tension. After all, these stories were not created with todays audiences in mind and they had no way of knowing how society would evolve.
Here are some of her thoughts on these Disney Classics:
The Jungle Book (1967)
Robertson started with her opinion on King Louie from the original The Jungle Book.
“We’re not talking the remake with the epic CGI and relatively unproblematic storyline, well minus the idea of a boy being brought up by wolves in the jungle.
Remember King Louie the orangutan in the original Jungle Book? Yeah you probably didn’t realise when you watched it age five with all your animal teddies lined up in front of the TV, but there is a hell of a lot of criticism about him being a racist caricature.
He and the other monkeys are shown to be foolish and criminal, and they literally sing about wanting to be able to make the white man’s fire.”
“The whole of the end scene of Dumbo literally relies on the crows as racist stereotypes.
The lead crow ‘Jim Crow’ was a term used to mock black men, so you don’t have to look far to find where this movie goes INCREDIBLY wrong.
In amongst its clasic bops, Disney has many songs with pretty problematic lyrics. In Dumbo’s ‘Song of the Roustabouts’, faceless dark-skinned characters sing “When other folks have gone to bed / We slave until we’re almost dead.”
Dumbo also gets drunk off his chops but that’s a good time in comparison.”
Lady and the Tramp (1955)
“Don’t be fooled by fond memories of two cute pups eating spaghetti, which is actually problematic in itself. Repressed somewhere in your innocent little head you’ll also find the film’s Siamese cats.
Lady and the Tramp’s ‘Siamese Cat Song’ is so blatantly racist that it has apparently been cut out of the film entirely in the remake.
Rewatching this was actually painful and completely cringeworthy. Not only do the cats both look and sound identical, their characters are sneaky and quite frankly annoying.”
Peter Pan (1953)
“You know exactly what I am going to highlight from this film.
Peter Pan pretty much whisks John, Michael and Wendy away to join his little gang of racist lost boys.
The Native American characters in the film are known as ‘red men’ and there’s even a song called “What Made The Red Man Red.”
The kids then excitedly pop on their head-dresses and smear some paint across their faces and say ‘how’ many times. Ideal little history lesson there for kids.”
“Here’s another film that Disney have remade in order to cover up the blatantly problematic original.
Right smack bang in the middle of the opening song, Agrabah (Arab-land) is described to be “barbaric, but hey, it’s home.” Aladdin is a white fantasy with mispronounced Arabic words and has nonsense scribbles as writing. They also have American accents??
I totally thought Jasmine was badass when I was a kid but in reality she just bats her eyelids, gets stuck in a big sand-timer (terrifying) and cries into her tiger’s fur.”
Lauren does make some good points about these depictions, others seem a bit extreme, but none-the-less important to be aware of. As a film major myself, I can say that if we rework stories to “cover up” any past wrongdoings by taking those scenes completely out of a film and “patching them back up” without those moments is not what film has ever been about. You can’t hide the ugly side of the past without forgetting the lessons it has taught us. Acting like it never happened only leaves room to fall back into those habits and behaviors. It excuses them.
You have to be able to learn from past mistakes, and it seems Disney is doing its best to move forward by reworking some of those titles to be more in-line with what the company stands for in this day and age by making them into live-action films with new content in place of those “darker” moments. Which kudos to them for doing so. You have to admit, if they were to just redo the animation no one would go to see them anyway so what would be the point?
Also, I have yet to learn of a time machine that worked, so what ELSE is Disney supposed to do? All that would do is spark outrage that Disney was “hiding” their past mistakes. Causing its own debate. At this point, I will digress, as this is merely my observation of how and why Disney is looking to still make their classic stories lovable and relatable as they were during their original release, but to a new and idealist audience. Robertson did say, “It’s a good shout from Disney to acknowledge that many of the films would not be so well received if they were released today, that is if they were allowed to be released at all, they’re that dodgy.”
That being said, Disney has allotted to omit some titles deemed too inappropriate for Disney+ such as the film that inspired the creation of the attraction Splash Mountain, Song of the South. Even Disney seems to be keeping that film under lock and key for the unforeseeable future. Another note: Just because a movie or show is not on Disney+ does not automatically mean there is something inherently wrong with it. There are many other reasons it may not be available.
You can check out the other titles Robertson goes over, such as Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, Fantasia, and more, in her full article by CLICKING HERE.
How do you feel about Disney’s choice to leave “controversial” scenes in the beloved Disney Classics on Disney+? Do you think it represents good business practice to acknowledge the company has grown and changed, while still respecting the original content delivered to audiences of the past? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments, but please keep civility in mind. This is a family friendly page.
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Featured Photo Credit: Disney
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