The streaming service Disney+ has removed several classic children’s films from the section for children and adolescents. The reason for this is that they supposedly used racist stereotypes and negative portrayals of non-white cultures. Disney announced through its “Stories Matter” program that the films Dumbo, Peter Pan, Lady and the Tramp, The Jungle Book and Aristocrats were affected.
The films would also no longer appear in the children’s section when searching for them. With an adult profile, however, the titles are still available. However, a twelve-second notice appears there first:
“This program contains negative depictions and / or incorrect treatment of people and cultures. Those stereotypes were wrong then and still are today. Rather than removing this content, it is important for us to point out its harmful effects, learn from it and stimulate conversations that will allow us to create a more inclusive future together without discrimination.”
“Homage to racist minstrel performances”
On “Stories Matter” Disney explains why, for example, Dumbo is no longer shown in the children’s profile. The crows playing in it are a “homage to racist minstrel performances in which white performers with blackened faces and tattered clothes imitated and mocked enslaved Africans on plantations in the south.” In the song “The Song of the Roustabouts”, faceless black workers are shown singing, among other things, “When we get our salary, we throw the money away”.
Peter Pan portrays indigenous people “who neither reflect the diversity of the indigenous people nor their authentic cultural traditions”. In the film, these are referred to several times as “red skins” and presented as a group speaking an incomprehensible language. Peter and the lost boys danced and wore headdresses – “a form of ridicule and appropriation of the culture and imagery of the indigenous people”. Sheesh!