Disney+ has restricted access to some of its older titles for children, citing negative stereotypes in such films as Dumbo and Peter Pan.
The move took place earlier this year but it’s now drawing sudden criticism amid conversations about the problematic content in old children’s media including Dr. Seuss and Looney Tunes. The topic has become fodder for various conservative talk shows like those on Fox News, where its opinion hosts have decried such changes as cancel culture.
Disney states that it has restricted the titles as a part of its effort to tell stories that reflect the rich diversity of the human experience around the globe. The company has applied the restrictions to the titles that it labeled with content advisories in October 2020.
Dumbo, Peter Pan, Swiss Family Robinson, The Aristocats, Lady, and the Tramp, and The Jungle Book are now not accessible through kids’ profiles with the parental controls being switched on. However Disney has not removed the affected titles from its streaming platform, and the users can still access the films through an adult profile. Each one of them starts with the content advisory that Disney added last fall.
The content advisory reads that the program includes negative depictions or mistreatment of cultures/ people. These stereotypes were wrong then and are wrong now. Therefore rather than removing the content, all they want is to acknowledge its harmful impact, learn from it, and spark conversations to create a more inclusive future together.
The content advisories have directed the audiences to Disney’s Stories Matter website which includes detailed explanations for some of the problematic content in each film. Most of the issues involve stereotypical representations of the racialized people.
Disney has further stated that it has evaluated the titles with help from its third-party advisory council, which also includes a wide range of advocacy groups. The latest news of the change gathered public attention this week and triggered a flurry of right-wing outrage.
The outcry also echoed a similar outrage cycle surrounding other children’s properties in the past week.
Moreover, Dr. Seuss Enterprises has recently canceled a publication of six titles due to racist stereotypes, triggering a flurry of buying and conservative backlash earlier this month.
Hasbro also ignited anger when it announced a line of Potato Head toys without the Mister attached to the name. Additionally, Warner Bros then triggered online anger by adjusting its lineup of Looney Tunes characters for Space Jam 2. The studio has reportedly cut Pepe Le Pew, the romance-obsessed skunk, due to his long-running trick of fondly pursuing a cat without consent.
The Space Jam sequel is due out in July on the HBO Max, and therefore it might take some time to see how the changes affect its performance, if at all.
Disney+ has hit 100 million subscribers on Tuesday, a mark that it has achieved in 16 months, compared to Netflix gathered for 10 years.