Disney has added a stronger disclaimer to the beginning of some classic animated feature films on the Disney+ streaming service. Previously, there was only a small statement in the content's description noting there are offensive stereotypes in the movies, but now viewers will see a notification before the film begins. The notification can be seen before Peter Pan, Dumbo, The Aristocats, and other films with stereotypes considered offensive today.
The message runs 12 seconds and urges users to go to the Disney.com/StoriesMatter website. "This program includes negative depictions and/or mistreatment of people or cultures. These stereotypes were wrong then and are wrong now," the statement reads, reports The Wrap. "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."
There is also a stronger message added to The Aristocats, which includes a cat character called Shun Gon, which is a "racist caricature of East Asian peoples with exaggerated stereotypical traits such as slanted eyes and buck teeth," the message notes. "He sings in poorly accented English voiced by a white actor and plays the piano with chopsticks," the message continues. "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.'"
Before adding this note, Disney only had a short warning about offensive cultural depictions and smoking in films on Disney+. The new message is similar to one Warner Bros. used for Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies DVDs and Blu-ray releases. Some of Disney's own Treasures DVD collections included introductions from film historian Leonard Maltin, who discussed offensive material seen in shorts made in the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s.
Peter Pan's most offensive sequence is the song "What Made The Red Man Red?," which depicts Native American stereotypes. The 1941 version of Dubmo includes crows who are led by one crow named "Jim Crow" and the characters are considered to be offensive African American caricatures by some. There were rumors that Disney would cut the characters out of the animated film before Disney+ launched, but those rumors ultimately did not come true. Some have also defended the crows, including animator Floyd Norman, the first African American animator to work at Disney.