Disney+ has added more thorough advisory notices to films with racist elements. 2020 has seen a massive cultural reckoning when it comes to the treatment of people of color, both in the entertainment industry and outside of it. While celebrities call on Hollywood to hire more talent of color and address the poor writing characters of color are often saddled with, some companies have addressed racist tropes that have long been a part of history. For example, past television episodes involving blackface have been removed from various streaming services, and Gone With the Wind and Blazing Saddles have gotten culturally sensitive warnings on HBO Max.
Upon its launch last year, Disney+ took its own, albeit small, steps to combatting past examples of racial stereotypes. Disney+ included disclaimers in the descriptions for various films warning audiences that they "may contain outdated cultural depictions." At the time, some appreciated the gesture, while others noted it was missing the bigger issue by simply calling these depictions "outdated." Nevertheless, Disney+ is officially taking these advisory notices a step further with a new initiative.
Disney has formed a new campaign called "Stories Matter," which aims to put a bigger spotlight on diverse voices while reviewing past instances where the company fell short. Primarily, this is done through new advisory notices for Disney+. Instead of leaving a disclaimer within the description, the notices are now played ahead of the movie itself and are non-skippable. The message itself reads as follows:
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.
To learn more about how stories have impacted society, please visitwww.disney.com/StoriesMatter
The official Stories Matter site lists a few of the movies that will feature this advisory notice, as well as the reasons why they will: The Aristocats, Dumbo, Peter Pan, and Swiss Family Robinson. By explaining why these films in particular will feature the warning message, it seems Disney is trying to follow through with its intention of sparking conversation about these issues. While this new message is far more than the previously included lines, some might again call out the fact that Disney doesn't directly name these depictions for what they really are: Racist.
Nevertheless, Disney+'s new advisory statement does point out that the racist portrayals weren't acceptable back when they were created, and that's an important thing to note. Much like how HBO Max handled Gone With the Wind, Disney+ is aiming to use their past transgressions as a learning opportunity going forward. This is a positive thing, and one that seems to stem from good intentions. Disney+ users will have to keep their eyes open for these notices, which will surely appear on a few other films than the ones listed online.