Disney+ Warns Users About "Outdated Cultural Depictions" in Titles

RKO Radio Pictures/Photofest; Walt Disney Pictures/Photofest; Buena Vista Distribution Company/Photofest
From left: Disney's 'Dumbo' (1941), 'The Jungle Book' (1967), 'Peter Pan' (1953), 'Lady and the Tramp' (1955)

Classic animations, including 'The Jungle Book,' 'Peter Pan' and 'Fantasia,' have been given a cultural insensitivity disclaimer on the recently launched streamer.

At the bottom of the description for Disney's 1940 classic animation Fantasia on the studio's newly minted Disney+ service, there is a line that is garnering attention from viewers: “This program is presented as originally created. It may contain outdated cultural depictions."

The disclaimer can be found in the streaming platform's synopsis of many of Disney's classic animated titles, including 1941's Dumbo, 1967's The Jungle Book, 1953's Peter Pan and 1955's Lady and the Tramp, as well as other offerings like 1960's Swiss Family Robinson and 1955's Davy Crockett. 

Disney+ features the studio's massive library that dates back over eight decades, and the verbiage serves as a caution against some racist and culturally insensitive depictions and references in Disney's older offerings.

While Lady and the Tramp features Siamese cats depicted as East Asian stereotypes and Peter Pan includes a song titled “What Makes the Red Man Red?,” it is unclear what the criterion is for Disney titles to receive the "outdated cultural depictions" disclaimer. Aladdin, which has been critiqued for its racist depictions of Middle Eastern and Arab culture, does not feature the disclaimer in its synopsis.

Disney has not returned The Hollywood Reporter's request for comment.

One feature entirely absent from the streaming platform is the 1946 live-action animation hybrid Song of the South. The movie, which inspired the Disneyland ride Splash Mountain, has been widely criticized for its portrayal of African-Americans and apparent glorification of plantation life. It has been the studio's policy to keep the film from theatrical and home entertainment rerelease. 

During a 2011 shareholder meeting, Disney chief Bob Iger said that it "wouldn't be in the best interest of our shareholders to bring [Song of the South] back, even though there would be some financial gain." He added, “Don’t expect to see it again for at least a while — if ever.”

Prior to launch, it was reported that Disney+'s version of the animated Dumbo would not include its Jim Crow sequence, which features an animated crow as a reference to the state laws enacted during Reconstruction that allowed segregation in Southern states until 1965, but the version currently on the streaming platform does include the scene. The film's synopsis includes the "outdated cultural depictions” disclaimer. 

Disney+, which bowed Tuesday and was plagued by early technical issues, hit 10 million subscribers within its first day of launch, according to the studio.