Damage Control: Disney Plus Issues Strict Warnings Against Culturally Inappropriate Stereotypical Titles
Disney is one of the oldest production houses in the filming industry. Their first movie dates back to 1937, which had numerous problematic scenes and dialogues of its own. Since the launch of their own streaming service, Disney+, instead of getting rid of these movies altogether, Disney decided to add a warning on all the titles which displayed racial injustice or inappropriate content according to the current social scenario.
Issuance of strict warnings and informing the viewer beforehand of the type of content they may come across in the movie is a bold move, especially in today’s cancel culture, making or breaking one’s social existence business within seconds. The social media of 2020 is brutal, and we underestimated its power until the BLM movement took place earlier this year.
People are not afraid to voice their discomfort and opinions, and The Walt Disney Company took this opportunity to create a more significant impact through their advisories. In these advisories, they openly acknowledge their misdoings of the past. Realizing their misconduct paired with efforts to turn it into something far better than just removing the source altogether is brave.
On Stories Matter by Disney, they openly vow to change their retrospective and become more inclusive and diverse in their content choice. This act is to “see an opportunity to spark conversation and open dialogue on history that affects us all.” What is the point of all this if there is nothing to learn from these events?
Some famous Disney titles and big names like The Jungle Book, Peter Pan, The Aristocats, Dumbo, etc. were movies that had an advisory warning at the beginning of the film. These movies came under consideration for the warning because of multiple cultural appropriations involved.
Peter Pan displays a false and stereotypical depiction of the Native Americans in their movie. The insensitive cultural appropriation ranges from their language to elaborate dress-code and, most of all, their skin-tone. Peter and his company refer to them as “red skins,” which is an inappropriate and offensive term.
The Aristocats targets the Asian community with the features of the cat caricatured as that of an Asian. The language, props, and songs mock the Chinese community severely.
Along with racism, Disney classics like Snow White and The Sleeping beauty also portrayed some morally incorrect actions considered a major red flag now and are illegal in some situations. The non-consensual kiss between the prince and Disney princess as they lay unconscious is not something that we need to see or promote, especially if children are watching that movie.
One of Disney’s attempts to resolve the problematic scene was its 2014 remake Maleficent, from the villain’s perspective. In that, the “true love’s kiss” is not from any prince, but from Maleficent on Aurora’s cheek, which displays Maleficent maternal love for her. Just like that, Disney has made countless efforts through its recent remakes to portray a relatively healthy and culturally accurate picture for its viewers.
Whether it is the recent Live-Action Mulan or the Jungle Book, Disney learned from their mistakes of the past, and with that vowed not to let history repeat itself; those actions “were wrong then, and are wrong now” as stated in their advisory.
To top it all of, Disney has teams from different parts of the world to assess their content and advise them to be more appropriate and accurate for the masses. And this effort of Disney is visible in the recent remakes of their old classics, which were a hit amongst the global audience with an accurate depiction of various cultures and ethnicities.
These teams are also in the form of advisory councils, representing different active communities in the face of change occurring in the media and entertainment industry.
In the end, the infamous cancel culture will not get us anywhere if we refuse to acknowledge and accept the past wrongdoings. Having a strict protocol to follow while making something for the masses is necessary; displaying insensitive content on the media is the things of the past now and does not come under the banner of “freedom of speech.”
Since the media has a direct impact and influence on people, its regulation is equally necessary, so is awareness. Disney is in the right by initiating a difference; what’s tough is maintaining their stance; we really do hope it is successful in that as well.