Disney+ has emerged as a top TV and movie streaming service. It's been particularly helpful this year for parents who have found themselves trying to entertain kids 24/7. Not to mention adults looking for some feel-good entertainment.
But things are changing over at Disney+. As you may have heard, the platform is intentionally removing some of its movies from the kids' section. While some may be disappointed to hear this, they've got some important reasons—and the movies aren't disappearing altogether.
Peter Pan has hit the headlines as one of the films being impacted by Disney+'s move. But it's not the only movie involved. The Aristocats, Swiss Family Robinson, and Dumbo are all also being removed from the kids' section of Disney+. They're still accessible through the platform—but kids won't be able to find them when scrolling through their streaming options.
Disney+ made this move as part of its Stories Matter campaign, which has focused on reviewing the Disney library for negative depictions of specific cultures, peoples, races, or communities. They determined that these four movies—Peter Pan, The Aristocats, Swiss Family Robinson, and Dumbo—contain negative racist stereotypes that are potentially harmful. In a statement, Disney said, "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."
The specific reasons for choosing these films for removal include references to racist minstrel shows in Dumbo, negative depictions of Native Americans in Peter Pan, problematic stereotypes of Asian peoples and cultures in The Aristocats, and racially charged depictions of pirates in Swiss Family Robinson.
Parents can now decide if, when, and how to show these movies to their children. And it provides greater awareness that a kid's viewing of the films may need to be accompanied by a conversation that addresses racial stereotyping.
Some critics have complained that Disney's latest action is just another example of "cancel culture" gone too far.
But Disney has hit the nail on the head by acknowledging that stories matter. Over the years, Disney movies have played an enormous role in the lives of children around the world. Storytelling impact how children view themselves, their communities, and the world.
By taking the action of changing kids' access to these negative depictions, they're participating in a process of altering the status quo and bringing their storytelling into the 21st century.
Changes to Disney+'s platform may not eliminate racial depictions and rid children of exposure to negative stereotypes—but it's a step in the right direction.