What to Do About Racist Disney Movies

Back in 2020, Disney began placing content warnings on some of their movies that contain racist imagery.  For a long time, people had criticized many of Disney’s films such as Peter Pan and Dumbo for containing racist stereotypes and content. As a result, Disney+ incorporated the warnings into the streaming platform.

Disney, however, is not the only film company guilty of including negative content in their films.  Over the past few years, a deep dive into the content of old Hollywood films has brought to light many of the issues present in “classics.”  Back in June of 2020, John Ridley implored HBO Max to remove Gone With the Wind and later return it to the platform with more context.  HBO Max heeded these calls, but they are not the only company that has attempted to provide context, discussion, and analysis of old films.

This begs the question of whether Disney’s content warnings are, in fact, enough.  While many of these classic films are for more mature audiences, the content on Disney+ is marketed specifically towards children.  

While I am unsure whether children would have the language or experiences necessary to understand the gravity of the conversations that would follow these films, I do know that normalizing the stereotypes and negative content in many old Disney films is detrimental to society.  A content warning at the beginning of the film may not be enough, as it does not begin to answer any questions that might arise or explain these heavy and important topics to impressionable youth.

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