Movies & TV / Columns

Thoughts on Disney+’s New Disclaimers

February 22, 2021 | Posted by Steve Gustafson
The Muppet Show Disney+

Disney Plus has no shortage of content. With it’s impressive archive that includes original animated classics to new shows like The Mandalorian, audiences are treated to a rich history of selections. With all that, you’re bound to find content that has some outdated depictions.

Take movies like Dumbo, The Aristocats, Lady and the Tramp, and Jungle Book, some of which were made nearly 80 years ago. These have carried a disclaimer saying, “This program is presented as originally created. It may contain outdated cultural depictions.” 

On a side note, Warner Bros. movies have included a similar message that says, “The cartoons you are about to see are products of their time. They may depict some of the ethnic and racial prejudices that were commonplace in American society. These depictions were wrong then and are wrong today. While these cartoons do not represent today’s society, they are being presented as they were originally created, because to do otherwise would be the same as claiming these prejudices never existed.”

Now Disney+ has updated the disclaimer, adding it to the The Muppet Show. On the series’ content details page, the platform issued an advisory note that the program “includes negative depictions and/or mistreatment of people or cultures.”

“These stereotypes were wrong then and are wrong now,” the disclaimer 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.”

“Disney is committed to creating stories with inspirational and aspirational themes that reflect the rich diversity of the human experience around the globe,” the disclaimer continues. “To learn more about how stories have impacted society visit:”

Disney’s Stories Matter initiative states that the streaming platform is “in the process of reviewing our library and adding advisories to content that includes negative depictions or mistreatment of people or cultures.” “Rather than removing this content, we see an opportunity to spark conversation and open dialogue on history that affects us all. We also want to acknowledge that some communities have been erased or forgotten altogether, and we’re committed to giving voice to their stories as well,” the initiative states.

Other titles receiving an advisory include Aristocats, Dumbo, Peter Pan, and Swiss Family Robinson.

I took a look at the Stories Matter page Disney set up and encourage you to do the same. It’s clear, concise and is an example of the right way to do things moving forward. No matter what your thoughts are about the movie content, we’ve found ourselves at a point where we need to figure out how to rectify what came before and be able to discuss these shows and movies within the bounds of the era they were made. This disclaimer is a good start.