When 1946 Disney film Song of the South was initially released, to many, it wouldn’t have been considered culturally insensitive. However, as time has gone on, the children’s depiction of African-American’s in post-Civil War era – the song ‘Zip-ed-dee-doo-dah won an Oscar – has been buried thanks to some racial connotations. Back in 2011, CEO Bog Iger said he felt some scenes “wouldn’t necessarily sit right or feel right to a number of people today” and that “it wouldn’t be in the best interest of our shareholders to bring it back, even though there would be some financial gain.”
This week as new streaming service Disney+ is launched in the US, it appears that the company is continuing to combat questionable content. The film company has come under fire for the original 1941 Dumbo cartoon, with viewers suggesting that it should be edited to remove a Jim Crow scene, which makes a specific reference to a blackface theatre character from the 1800s.
Now, for Dumbo or any other film – for example The Jungle Book – a disclaimer will be included before the film saying, “This program is presented as originally created. It may contain outdated cultural depictions.” Is it enough? Some are saying it is a #DisneyPlusFail, while others believe Disney is seeing out its due diligence. Nevertheless, the vault is open. I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for some childhood throwbacks.
Look at #DisneyPlus letting the people know early that their old films were racist and culturally insensitive.
Accountability is key, and historical context is important. pic.twitter.com/JvHVYMxBsk
— Ernest Owens (@MrErnestOwens) November 12, 2019