February 25th, 2021 Last Updated on: April 1st, 2021
It’s no secret that Disney has a thorny track record of racist depictions in its content.
Or the cat named Shun Gon in “The Aristocats,” who’s voiced by a white person. Shun Gon bears stereotypical East Asian features and plays the piano with chopsticks.
We can’t forget the infamous crows in “Dumbo“—let alone the faceless Black workers in the film shown working to offensive lyrics like “When we get our pay, we throw our money all away.”
These types of not-so-subtle stereotypes and racist overtones can also be found in “Fantasia,” The Jungle Book,” “Lady and the Tramp,” and others. While Disney has shrugged off these damaging cultural representations in the past, the entertainment giant is now changing its tune.
Disney has created a series of warning labels on its Disney+ streaming platform to provide context for these portrayals. Viewers will encounter these Disney content labels in the program description and before the title plays for several seconds.
“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,” Disney said on its website.
While several opposition groups have called for Disney to permanently pull these titles, the company stood by its decision to leave them up—instead adding the new label in hopes of sparking a dialogue.
The Disney Content label reads: “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.”
In a message posted to Disney.com/StoriesMatter, which includes a PSA and information on the impact of diverse storytelling on culture, several entertainment professionals, including Geena Davis, Gil Robertson, Gloria Calderón Kellett and Cristela Alonzo, weigh in.
“What message are we sending to little kids at the most vulnerable age, if characters are one-dimensional, stereotyped, sidelined, hyper-sexualized, or simply, not there at all?” Davis asks in the video. “There is incredible power in seeing someone who’s like you on screen. What children see sets the framework for what they believe is possible in life.”
What do you think? Are the Disney content labels enough?
Watch our Pow Wow Nation Live show where Paul G discusses these issues.
Home » Blog »
Explore Native Culture
TAGGED: disney Native American