Disney fans might have been surprised recently when they went to access their Disney+ accounts only to find that a number of titles had been removed from the children’s section of the streaming app. That’s because recent guidelines for the service, along with an independent audit found that a number of older Disney movies contained racist stereotypes and weren’t considered suitable for children. So now, parents might have to head over the adult section of the app to get eyes on a number of Disney “classics”.
The Disney movies in question that have been moved out of the children’s section and now essentially need parental approval are Peter Pan, The Aristocrats, Swiss Family Robinson, and Dumbo. Each of these was found to have either characters or scenes that portrayed a certain race or ethnicity in a harsh or stereotypical fashion. Because of that, it was determined that children shouldn’t be able to randomly stumble on the movie going forward.
For the Disney classic Peter Pan there are a number of questionable scenes involving Native Americans including a song centered around their skin color. Meanwhile, Swiss Family Robinson has a bunch of marauding characters with undefined ethnic backgrounds who are used to portray “evil” when it comes to threatening the family.
Meanwhile, Disney’s issues with The Aristocrats, and frankly Lady and the Tramp as well, are with a Siamese cat side character which has questionable references to Asians. It’s very cringe-worthy when seen again these days in light of how that culture is portrayed. And finally, Dumbo has some questionable scenes depicting African Americans working in fields. This is all a step from Disney to remove content that, for some reason, was acceptable at the time it was made but now is clearly thought to be misrepresentations of different ethnicities.
Disney has plans to reboot almost all of these movies at some point in the development timeline. Peter Pan is already in the works and has made a number of casting decisions including bringing on Jude Law to play Captain Hook.
Dumbo already got the Disney live-action treatment a few years ago with a remake that had Tim Burton at the helm. The film was mostly a dud with critics though did manage to score a little over $350 million at the box office on its $170 million budget.
And finally, Swiss Family Robinson is currently in development at Disney in a reboot of the story about a shipwrecked family living in a big old tree. There’s no clear timeline on when this will actually hit screens but it’s all part of Disney’s plan to just update all of their old works into a more modern age.
In all, it’s a good thing that Disney is looking back at the older movies, made in a different time period, and examining if the messaging or characterizations hold up over time. Because there are clearly some that do not. I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw more movies land on this list or see other streaming services take a similar path with their content.