‘Dumbo,’ ‘Peter Pan’ Get Content Advisory From Disney+ for ‘Negative Depictions’ of Race

Streaming service adds warning at the beginning of older films

Last Updated: October 15, 2020 @ 1:51 PM

Disney+ is flagging its own content for racial stereotyping.

This week the streaming service began putting up a content advisory warning for some of its older films like “The Aristocats,” “Dumbo,” “Peter Pan” and “Swiss Family Robinson” that Disney says feature “negative depictions and/or mistreatment of people or cultures.”

The graphic will run for 12 seconds at the beginning of the flagged content:

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 visit www.disney.com/StoriesMatter.”

Disney goes further, identifying the specific instances in the aforementioned four films. For example, in “The Aristocats,” Disney describes how the character of Shon Gon (one of the Alley Cats in the 1970 film) is a harmful Asian stereotype:

“The cat is depicted as a racist caricature of East Asian peoples with exaggerated stereotypical traits such as slanted eyes and buck teeth. He sings in poorly accented English voiced by a white actor and plays the piano with chopsticks. This portrayal reinforces the ‘perpetual foreigner’ stereotype, while the film also features lyrics that mock the Chinese language and culture such as “Shanghai, Hong Kong, Egg Foo Young. Fortune cookie always wrong.”

Disney+ had earlier placed included warnings in the content descriptions of some of its older films, but this is the first time the streaming service has placed one in the actual content. The decision is similar to how HBO Max handled “Gone With the Wind,” which has been often criticized for romanticizing the Antebellum South.