Disney+ includes warning about 'outdated cultural depictions' for films such as Fantasia and Dumbo

Decision is proving controversial on social media

Clémence Michallon
New York
Tuesday 12 November 2019 22:59 GMT
Disney+ announce service will be available to UK

The newly launched Disney+ includes warning about “outdated cultural depictions” for some of the studio’s films.

Such warnings appear when users go to watch films such as Dumbo, Fantasia, Lady and the Tramp and The Jungle Book, all of which have been criticised for including racist imagery.

“This programme is presented as originally created,” the message reads.

“It may contain outdated cultural depictions.”

Dumbo notably features a sequence called ”Song of the Roustabouts”, in which faceless, dark-skinned workers sing about working “all day” and “all night”, never having “learned to read or write”. It includes the lines: ”When other folks have gone to bed / We slave until we’re almost dead.”

The 1941 animated film also features a scene with a group of crows, one of which is called Jim – a reference to the racist character Jim Crow, whose name was used as a derogatory term towards black people in the 19th century (before being used in reference to segregation laws).

Despite earlier reports that the crows’ scene would be cut from Dumbo's streaming version, the characters still appear prominently in the version currently available on Disney+.

Disney’s warnings have been criticised by some people for their wording.

“The problem I have with the term ‘outdated cultural depictions’ is that it feels very much like ‘we did a racism, which was the style at the time,’” one person tweeted. ”Jim Crow in Dumbo is a very deliberate and loaded racist depiction that isn’t a simple error of judgment.”

“’It may contain outdated cultural depictions’ is some weak sauce copy, Disney,” someone else wrote. ”Very glad they’re not editing this material, but ‘outdated’ implies it was once fine and culture just moved on. And that’s not true. This material was vigorously protested and debated contemporaneously.”

Others, however, viewed the warning as a positive step.

“Well, it DOES contain outdated cultural depictions. Good on Disney for owning up to it. This is a fair warning for modern audiences,” one Twitter user wrote.

The Independent has contacted Disney for comment.

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