The new Disney+ disclaimers help us step forward into an era of conversation

We must acknowledge our wrongs to grow from them

Screenshot of the new Disney+ disclaimer.

Last month, Disney made a small but significant change to how it presents certain films on its streaming platform—and it’s one for the better.

Disney+ made the addition of 12 second, non-skippable disclaimers on a select few of their movies—among them are Peter Pan, Dumbo, The Aristocats, Aladdin, and The Jungle Book—to warn those watching of racist stereotypes within the films, including scenes with “negative depictions” and “mistreatment of people or cultures.” The message goes on to add, “[t]hese stereotypes were wrong then and are wrong now. 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.”

On the whole, this is a positive move on Disney’s part. Getting rid of the movies altogether wouldn’t be productive—not only are they classics which would continue to be watched outside of the streaming platform, but a complete removal of the films wouldn’t be conducive to anyone’s learning.

This is the primary issue with censorship: the notion of ‘out of sight, out of mind’ doesn’t address the root of an issue, it only cuts it off at the stem without doing anything to prevent it from growing back in the future. Problematic scenes in Disney movies weren’t intended to be controversial when they were made, but they remain harmful nonetheless. It’s important to recognize what’s wrong with these films so we can learn from their problematicity to move forward, rather than ignoring it and repeating the same cycle of insensitivity and racism in film—intentional or not.

With this being said, including these disclaimers is only the smallest first step toward positive change.

The primary audience for these movies is children, including those who either don’t know how to read or are just beginning to learn. Merely slapping a written disclaimer denouncing the hurtful content in the films and leaving it at that won’t be effective in communicating the intention of the warnings to children watching these movies for the first time.

It’s vital that adults—being parents and educators—step up and help young viewers comprehend the negativity behind these scenes. Without guidance, these disclaimers risk becoming another part of the movie’s introduction which most children have no interest in. 

Disney+’s disclaimers are a shift in the right direction, but their reliance on individual intervention between adults and their kids makes it difficult to say definitively whether or not they will be as effective as they could be. The messaging may be useful for older children and adults, but if Disney’s intention is to reach young viewers, formatting these messages in the form of animations or narrated clips could be more engaging and impactful.

We need to learn from history to move forward from it, and although Disney should be doing more, this is a strong example of recognizing wrongs in an open and honest manner rather than pushing them under the rug. After all, conversation is a huge part of the learning process. If we can’t talk about our past mistakes, how will we get better?


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