We’re only a few hours into the Disney+ world and it already has people talking — whether about pivotal Star Wars scenes or the curious content warnings playing before some previously archived films.
Some warnings feel standard, such as “tobacco depictions” in Aladdin or “sci-fi violence and action” in Avengers: Endgame. But some of the old animated films contain warnings for “outdated cultural depictions.”
Checking everything out and wanted to point out that movies like Dumbo, The Aristocats, Jungle Book, and Lady and the Tramp have a disclaimer about outdated cultural depictions. This is good. #DisneyPlus
While it’s decent of Disney to note the poor aging of these portrayals with time, this seems like a prime opportunity to point out that these depictions are not just outdated — like say, the low-rise jeans of the early 2000s — but inaccurate and offensive.
The same Twitter thread notes that Warner Bros. has a similar warning before some of its streaming content, but with much stronger language:
No plug forthcoming. Let’s be clear, Disney did harm. A lot. The only question is how to best address this. If the consensus from those directly harmed is that we need stronger wording you will receive no argument from me. Many have referenced the WB. Here is that wording.
The inclusion of certain titles and warnings on the streaming service invokes the ongoing conversation about how to approach art created in a culture of inherent prejudices, whether racist, sexist, or other. Both Warner Bros. and Disney appear to take the stance that we cannot divorce films from their cultural context, with Warner Bros. explicitly turning this into a history lesson, particularly for younger viewers.
One thread of replies invokes Song of the South, the 1946 film best known for the song “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah” and conflicting portrayals of former slaves immediately after the Civil War — a film you won’t find on Disney+ and whose inclusion is still subject of debate. A film so fraught might require more comment or nuance than a warning of “outdated cultural depictions,” but Disney does not, at this point, appear to have a contingency plan for that.