I was relieved to see that warning — but I didn’t need it.
The new Disney Plus service — its ad-free, on-demand streaming service that was just released a few days ago — carries a warning on its old movies and shows.
That warning reads: “This program is presented as originally depicted. It may contain outdated cultural depictions.”
For some people, however, that wasn’t enough to admit that the company’s entertainment could be seen as racist.
Check out this tweet below:
Hate to nitpick a sensitivity warning but Disney+’s feels so brief and kind of dismissive by calling it “outdated cultural depictions” vs Warner Brothers actually calling it racial prejudice pic.twitter.com/98uYEBLyZK
— give Rise 3 seasons or we fight (@unicornmantis) November 12, 2019
There is a difference between racism and stereotypes.
Stereotypes are not necessarily malicious.
I, for one, hate how this new generation tries to equate them.
There’s a growing clamor today for us to erase the past, to pretend it didn’t happen — and that is the one sure route to repeating the same mistakes.
Yes, warn younger parents who may not be familiar with some of these classic stories that they are not sanitized.
But do not remove them.
Do not edit them.
This was real.
We need to make sure we do not erase our history — and we need to make sure our children recognize why it’s no longer acceptable.
By the way, there are some seriously racist white depictions in Disney movies, too.
All of the movies had stereotypes in them, mostly for humor rather than any realistic representation.
Here’s how The Hill explained the Disney news:
“This program is presented as originally depicted. It may contain outdated cultural depictions.”
The two-sentence disclaimer is written at the end of the plot description of movies like “Peter Pan,” “Dumbo,” and “The Jungle Book,” The Washington Post reports. These movies, like other older Disney movies, include characters based on racist stereotypes.
“Dumbo,” released in 1941, has side characters based on stereotypes of African-Americans, including one named “Jim Crow.” Another animated movie, The “AristoCats,” was released in 1970 and includes a Siamese cat who plays instruments with chopsticks and speaks with an offensive accent. (The cat was voiced by a white actor.)
Disney’s decision to label movies that portrayed offensive stereotypes is a step toward recognizing their history and moving past it.
“It’s encouraging to see Disney acknowledge the darker elements of its past film and TV content,” writer, critic, and Disney expert Josh Spiegel told The Verge. But critics point out that Disney could have done more.
Spiegel continued, “This disclaimer is also the bare minimum. Frankly, a lot of Disney+ subscribers might not even notice the disclaimer, instead just clicking Play on a title.” (source: The Hill)
It’s part of our past. You can hide it, but you can’t deny it.
Put the warning on it — and let it be free.
Only by facing our past can we hope to overcome it.
What Disney did in the past was “normal” given the times.
Only now, when we can see the hurt that such stereotypes caused, can we see it for what it was — racist, in some viewers’ eyes.
I’ll choose to ignore the racism because we’re talking about cartoons from a bygone era, and no little kids are going to care about skin color unless they’re taught that there’s a reason to care.
This piece originally appeared in WayneDupree.com and is used by permission.
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