Disney+ has removed several movies from its children’s profiles for the way that they negatively depict certain cultures. The Aristocats, Dumbo, Peter Pan, and Swiss Family Robinson have all been given a 6+ rating. This basically has the same effect of giving these films a PG rating in how children’s profiles are no longer able to access them. The changes were made as Disney continues its ongoing efforts to promote diversity and inclusion.
These movies are still available on the regular Disney+ profiles. Each includes a content advisory warning and direct viewers to check out disney.com/StoriesMatter. Disney also provided reasons for the 6+ ratings on the Stories Matter page. They are as follows:
- The Aristocats – 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.”
- Dumbo – The crows and musical number pay homage to racist minstrel shows, where white performers with blackened faces and tattered clothing imitated and ridiculed enslaved Africans on Southern plantations. The leader of the group in Dumbo is Jim Crow, which shares the name of laws that enforced racial segregation in the Southern United States. In “The Song of the Roustabouts,” faceless Black workers toil away to offensive lyrics like “When we get our pay, we throw our money all away.”
- Peter Pan – The film portrays Native people in a stereotypical manner that reflects neither the diversity of Native peoples nor their authentic cultural traditions. It shows them speaking in an unintelligible language and repeatedly refers to them as “redskins,” an offensive term. Peter and the Lost Boys engage in dancing, wearing headdresses and other exaggerated tropes, a form of mockery and appropriation of Native peoples’ culture and imagery.
- Swiss Family Robinson – The pirates who antagonize the Robinson family are portrayed as a stereotypical foreign menace. Many appear in “yellow face” or “brown face” and are costumed in an exaggerated and inaccurate manner with top knot hairstyles, queues, robes and overdone facial make-up and jewelry, reinforcing their barbarism and “otherness.” They speak in an indecipherable language, presenting a singular and racist representation of Asian and Middle Eastern peoples.
On the Stories Matters page, it states that “We can’t change the past, but we can acknowledge it, learn from it and move forward together to create a tomorrow that today can only dream of.” While Disney continues to provide advisory warnings and protections for these older movies, they are also creating new movies that come from the same stories and learn from the lessons of the original. This includes remakes of Swiss Family Robinson and also Peter Pan & Wendy. Both of these are getting a live-action reimagining.
The following statement and video can be found on the Stories Matter page:
Stories shape how we see ourselves and everyone around us. So as storytellers, we have the power and responsibility to not only uplift and inspire, but also consciously, purposefully and relentlessly champion the spectrum of voices and perspectives in our world.