Last fall, The Walt Disney Company launched “Stories Matter,” a concerted effort by its various branches to reckon with the company’s history of racist stereotypes and negative depictions. “We can’t change the past,” reads the Stories Matter site, “but we can acknowledge it, learn from it and move forward together to create a tomorrow that today can only dream of.” With the launch of the campaign came the addition of content warnings on a number of Disney Plus streaming titles.
As noted by several outlets, has Disney Plus removed several titles that currently run with advisory descriptions from Kids profiles. The titles include Peter Pan, Aristocats, The Lady and the Tramp, Dumbo, The Jungle Book, and the live-action Swiss Family Robinson. The movies can still be found and viewed on regular Disney Plus accounts, but for profiles set up for children (which already limit the viewable content to titles rated TV-7FV and G), the classic Disney films can no longer be found.
What Disney constitutes as worthy of the warning label is fairly obvious: Aristocats, Lady and the Tramp, and Swiss Family Robinson feature racist caricatures of East Asian peoples; Dumbo includes a sequence in which a group of crows perform a song and dance in the style of racist minstrel shows; A large chunk of Peter Pan portrays Indigenous people in a reductive and stereotypical fashion.
Viewers who encounter these films on adult Disney Plus accounts are met with a strong condemnation of their contents:
This program includes negative depictions and/or mistreatment of people or cultures. These 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.
Disney is committed to creating stories with inspirational and aspirational themes that reflect the rich diversity of the human experience around the globe.
According to sources, these changes are part of the general mission of “Stories Matter” and are one way for Disney to keep the Disney Plus experience safe; parents can now view these films with their children and talk through the content warnings.
“Stories Matter” seems to be provoking major change throughout the business: both Splash Mountain and Jungle Cruise will receive major overhauls at Disney parks in order to flush the racist history and iconography from the rides. Worth noting: The sequels to Peter Pan, The Jungle Book, and Lady and the Tramp are still available on Kids accounts. (And many of them are actually good.)