What Experts Think About Disney Plus Censoring Kids Content

Not all fairytales are happy

Key Takeaways

  • Certain Disney movies on Disney Plus aren’t available on kids’ profiles due to racially insensitive content.
  • The movies must be watched with a parent and still contain an advisory message about inappropriate and outdated content.
  • Experts say it’s a good move for Disney to be aware of the change in times and provide context for the past.
Disney+ logo displayed on the screen of an Apple MacBook Pro
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Disney Plus is policing some of its more outdated content containing racial stereotypes by making certain movies impossible to watch without a parent.

Kids’ profiles on the streaming platform no longer show films that feature an advisory message on racism. Some of these movies include Peter Pan, The Aristocats, Lady and the Tramp, and Dumbo, which have to be watched with parental approval. Experts say this is a good move on Disney’s part to make content containing racial stereotypes less accessible to watch. 

"Disney is finally doing something [it] should have done many years ago: admitting racial prejudices and stereotyping," wrote Jamil Aziz, the team lead of digital marketing at Streaming Digitally, to Lifewire in an email. "This small step will have a great impact in the long term." 

From Classics to Cringe

Disney has acknowledged the inappropriate, racist content in its former films since it first released the Disney Plus streaming service in November 2019. The company added content warnings that would appear before the start of specific titles. 

"This program includes negative depictions and/or mistreatment of people or cultures," the warning reads. "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."

A view of Disney's El Capitan Theatre with its updated marquee displaying inspiring messages from Disney characters like Dory, Peter Pan, Snow White and Buzz Lightyear on April 14, 2020
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Rewatching some of these "classic" Disney films is a bit cringe-worthy in this day and age, such as a scene in Dumbo in which one of the crows is named Jim Crow—a derogatory term that was used toward Black people and a designation for segregated life.

Viewers now realize that other Disney movies they grew up loving were racist this whole time. Some examples include Peter Pan, for its depiction of Native Americans, and The Jungle Book, for its portrayal of the orangutans as racist caricatures. Still, experts say it's important to remember that most of these original animated movies were made between the 1940s and 1960s.

"Disney is trying to align its value system according to the young generation and millennials..."

"While The Jungle Book may look like an innocuous story, it has severely problematic undertones that leave a lasting sub-conscious impact on how we perceive South Asians," wrote Yasir Nawaz, a digital content producer at PureVPN, to Lifewire in an email.

Impacts on Viewers 

Experts say it's a good move for the family-centered entertainment conglomerate to provide context to its older and more outdated content. 

"The most obvious impact this will have is ensuring that future generations do not develop a hateful perception of [people of color]," Nawaz wrote. "Reiterating these as pieces of fiction goes a long way in alleviating how our society views different races in the long term."

"Disney is finally doing something [it] should have done many years ago: admitting racial prejudices and stereotyping."

These changes cater to an older audience, as well, experts say. Millennials and Gen-Zers increasingly are becoming more politically correct, and are holding brands and companies accountable to do the same.

"Disney's audiences are no longer just kids, but young adults, as well," Aziz wrote. "Disney is trying to align its value system according to the young generation and millennials, and they are also trying to appear progressive and emotionally intelligent company."

Close up of a father and daughter playing at home
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And, of course, there are always financial impacts to a decision like this. 

"From the financial perspective, it will certainly get them a lot of new subscribers, partly from free promotions, and partly because some people were really offended by it," wrote Hrvoje Milakovic, owner of Fiction Horizon, to Lifewire in an email. 

Overall, experts agree it’s time to acknowledge the insensitivity of the past to hope for a more inclusive future.

"Providing proper context to all these depictions ensures that while future generations continue to enjoy these as works of art, they do not grow up believing these to be reflections of reality," Nawaz wrote.

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