Some throwbacks don’t want to be remembered

According to recent articles from The Verge and Time, the new streaming service, Disney+, has started to include disclaimers about the scenes in movies that show racism. Some of Disney’s older movies are centered around cultural context in which racism is present. In the description box for certain movies, the phrase “This program is presented as originally created. It may contain outdated cultural depictions,” (Alexander, 2019). Movies such as Dumbo and Peter Pan show discrimination against certain races. The chairwoman of American studies at the University of Maryland at College Park, Williams-Forson, said the company “needs to follow through in making a more robust statement that this was wrong, and these depictions were wrong.”

Stereotypes have been around in Disney films for decades. In present day, there has been controversy around old Disney movies, and how they depict racial stereotypes because of the new streaming service, Disney+. One complaint of a stereotype in an old animated Disney film is a scene in the movie Dumbo. A stereotype is a belief about the personal qualities of a group of people that are usually inaccurate and overgeneralized. In this scene, a group of crows are singing about how Dumbo flies, and the main crow in the group was named Jim Crow. This was a mocking term used to insult black men since the real Jim Crow implemented controversial segregation laws.  The scene shows an example of stereotyping in the sense that the crow, Jim Crow, is verbally belittling Dumbo about his ability to fly. You can tell how times have changed due to how these stereotypes were allowed to be shown to the public back then and how there is so much controversy around the stereotypes in present day. Even though the scene is offensive, it is still being shown within the movie. 

Another movie, that is not well known to the public due to how racist it is, is the Song of the SouthRacism is when people are treated differently by others of a different race due to the assumptions made based off of their skin tone. This movie was set on a plantation in the 1940s in Georgia after the Civil War. The depictions of black people are so controversial that this movie has not been shown in years. Disney+, along with other streaming networks will not show this movie due to the racist nature.  The movie shows a plantation worker in a positive light, disregarding the horrible treatment that other workers faced.  Although the setting took place after the Civil War, a war over the use of slaves, the movie never defined the plantation worker as a slave.  However, Disney dances around the idea that he is a slave. The controversial showing glorifies being a slave which is wrong because racism pushed black people into slavery.  A reporter from Time further states that the Song of the South “…hasn’t been shown theatrically for decades, due to its racist representation of the plantation worker Uncle Remus and other characters.”(Anderson, 2019).  Racism along with stereotyping has been around for centuries in Disney movies. Not much was said back in the day when the song first came out, but currently everyone is noticing how racist these film makers were in the past.  

Alexander, Julia. “Disney Warns Viewers about Past Racism, but Not as Well as Warner Bros.” The Verge, The Verge, 13 Nov. 2019, https://www.theverge.com/2019/11/13/20963014/disney-plus-racism-cultural-disclaimer-dumbo-song-of-the-south-warner-bros-tom-jerry.

Anderson, Mae. “Disney Adds Content Warnings to Movies With Racist Tropes.” Time, Time, 16 Nov. 2019, https://time.com/5730892/disney-plus-content-warnings-racist-movies/.

Dominique Fornabaio