There seems to be confusion that depiction must automatically equal endorsement. If a film made in 1941 depicts racist caricatures, then people who weren’t even alive back then must also embrace such racist caricatures today otherwise they wouldn’t show it. It’s a childish argument that helps generate outrage for clicks, but it’s the reality we live with in 2019, so Disney+ is working to cut it off before it can boil over.
Mashable reports that movies like Dumbo (1941), Lady and the Tramp (1955), The Jungle Book (1967), and The Aristocats (1970) have an additional phrase in their plot descriptions reading, “This program is presented as originally created. It may contain outdated cultural depictions.” Those “outdated cultural depictions” include thing like the black stereotype crows in Dumbo and the Asian stereotype Siamese cats in Lady and the Tramp.
On the one hand, I get it. It’s a small way of acknowledging that the company hasn’t always been in the right and that while you may want to show your kids Dumbo, you should get a heads up about its content. And obviously, this is a far better solution than attempting to re-edit the movie or pull a Song of the South and pretend the film doesn’t exist because you don’t want to deal with the fallout (although Song of the South is very much its own disastrous thing and probably needs an accompanying documentary to explain why it’s so awful).
Warner Bros. has used much stronger language for some of its old animated features, and it remains to be seen if such language will be demanded of Disney, or if this mild disclaimer will get the job done. I understand why this is “necessary” in this day and age, especially when major studios want to avoid negative controversy at all costs, but it feels like we’re slouching towards this bit of parody that recent cropped up on HBO’s Watchmen: