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Some Disney+ Content Has Unusual Warning

'Outdated cultural depictions' label appears on older films
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 13, 2019 12:13 PM CST
In this April 3, 2019, photo characters from Disney and Fox movies are displayed behind Cathleen Taff, president of distribution, franchise management, business and audience insight for Walt Disney Studios...   (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP, File)

(Newser) – The problematic Native American characters in Peter Pan. The racist crows in Dumbo. The stereotypical "Siamese Cat Song" in Lady and the Tramp. How, exactly, to deal with all of that—and more—in 2019, when nearly the entire history of Disney, including the not-so-great parts, is now streaming on Disney+? Business Insider reports the company's solution: To slap a warning on certain streaming content that reads, "This program is presented as originally created. It may contain outdated cultural depictions." The warning appears on much of the early Disney films and animated shorts, even ones that don't at first glance appear to contain particularly problematic content. "It appears that Disney has simply decided to add the disclaimer to all of the service's early material in order to cover all bases," writes Dirk Libbey.

While the Independent reports some critics on Twitter weren't happy with the apparent minimization of declaring racist depictions simply "outdated," Libbey thinks the move makes sense. Sure, Disney could simply shelve the material. But "wiping it from history has the potential to make it appear that the wrong decision was never made in the first place, and if we don't embrace mistakes, we don't learn from them." The New York Times notes, however, that some old Disney titles were in fact left off Disney+ completely. Most notably: 1946's Song of the South. Among other content not included? "Commando Duck," a seven-minute propaganda cartoon Disney produced for the US military during World War II that features racist depictions of the Japanese, and 1981's Devil and Max Devlin, starring since-convicted sexual offender Bill Cosby. (Read more Disney Plus stories.)

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