If you thought the new Disney+ streaming service had put its problems behind it after its technologically-challenged rollout, think again. Last week, it was reported that in addition to the Marvel and Star Wars-related content the service is offering, it’s also offering classic Disney movies that feature racist content.
Some of these include such beloved titles as Peter Pan, which depicts Native American characters in a less than enlightened way. Then there’s 1941’s Dumbo, which depicts the titular elephant being taught how to fly by crows who speak with voices used to stereotype African-Americans. To add insult to injury, the lead crow’s name is “Jim Crow.”
The service is running a disclaimer before these movies, which reads, “This program is presented as originally created. It may contain outdated cultural depictions.”
Disney+ is keeping at least one controversial title in the vaults, 1946’s Song of the South. The film, which takes place on a southern plantation, has been criticized for its depiction of African-Americans and has never been released on home video in any format. In 2010, Disney CEO Bob Iger called the movie “fairly offensive,” so those hoping to see it come to Disney+ probably shouldn’t hold their breath.
Nevertheless, there’s still the question of the disclaimer – is that enough to satisfy viewers in 2019, and if it isn’t, will subscribers cancel their service?
It’s too early to say whether the presence of these films will hurt Disney+, but for now, it seems unlikely. It already has 10 million subscribers, and its advertising leans heavily on such modern properties as Marvel, Star Wars and Pixar. So while the service’s benefits may outweigh its drawbacks today, it may need to address its offensive content more directly.