The new Disney+ is also Disney-, as the studio’s streaming service apparently is being cautious about what it will showcase, keeping some materials in the vault while warning of sensitive content in other cases.
The new subscription service debuted Tuesday and already has caused fans and media to notice what isn’t available. From feature-length films to cartoons, the studio apparently is being very sensitive to problematic materials that could cause upset because of heightened racial and social awareness in the years since initial release.
While it was expected that Disney’s 1946 film Song of the South in any formatnever would be a part of the new service — the film has not been seen for 33 years because of its insensitive racial imagery — there are other film and tv projects that are on the service that are being treated carefully.
The 1941 film Dumbo has been issued without cuts, but a warning precedes it advising viewers of some problematic racial imagery and dialect from some crows, including one called “Jim Crow,” a nod to the segregation laws of the era.
The disclaimer states: “This program is presented as originally created. It may contain outdated cultural depictions.” Some titles are also warning of “tobacco depictions,” a common viewing tool in films of the past that now is taboo in family fare.
Also getting the “outdated” warning: The Jungle Book (1967), Fantasia (1940), Swiss Family Robinson (1940, 1960), The Aristocats (1970). Peter Pan (1953), Lady and the Tramp (1955) and The Sign of Zorro (1958). Mickey Mouse shorts from the 1920s through the 1940s are also flagged.
Perhaps surprisingly, the films Pocahontas, Mulan, Beauty and the Beast and Snow White did not get a warning.
Beyond outdated social, racial and cultural issues, fans of The Simpsons noted that episodes were being cropped from their 4:3 aspect ratio to a wider 16:9 format, which is more comfortable on big screens. That means that visual jokes, a staple of The Simpsons, can be cropped out of the scene.
The 1991 Simpsons episode featuring Michael Jackson, “Stark Raving Dad,” also has been excluded.
Fans so far have given a mixed reception to the fiddling. Some salute the attempt at addressing upsetting content, while others argue that history is history and should be acknowledged. So far, Disney has not commented on its decision.