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10th Mar 2021

Disney+ pulls Peter Pan, Dumbo & more from kids profiles due to negative depictions

Danny Jones

Various Disney classics have been removed from the streaming platform due to racial stereotypes and other negative connotations

As time goes on, the world is trying to hold more people accountable for their actions, both past and present. In the case of Disney, that means acknowledging the outdated and often offensive material within their older works.

As reported by Comic Book, the most recent pieces of content to be removed from Disney+ include what many people deem to be animated classics: Peter Pan, Dumbo and Aristocats, as well as the lesser-known live-action film, Swiss Family Robinson.

For those that are so quick to roll their eyes at ‘cancel culture’, Disney have themselves listed the reasons behind the removal of each film. Have a read and see for yourself.

1. Peter Pan

The film portrays a stereotype of the Native people as speaking in an unintelligible language and commonly uses the phrase “redskins”: an offensive term that was brought to the forefront through the so-named American football team.

It was also deemed that Peter and the Lost Boys’ dancing, headdresses and other exaggerated tropes, could be perceived as a form of mockery and appropriation of Native American culture.

2. Dumbo

This one is about as on the nose as you can get. Not only do the crow characters and their musical number quite obviously mirror racist minstrel shows – white people performing in blackface, in tattered clothes imitating slaves, no less – but the leader of the group in Dumbo is Jim Crow.

For anyone still unaware of this name and its significance in African American history, it is the name of the laws that enforced racial segregation in the US, most notably in the South and in plantations.

Things get even more sinister when another song performed by black workers contains lyrics like “when we get our pay, we throw our money all away” – yet another latent prejudice that still prevails in America today.

3. Aristocats

Once again, things are fairly obvious with this one too. The Siamese cats are depicted as a racist caricature of East Asian people, with exaggerated features such as slanted eyes and buck teeth.

The stereotypes get even worse and even lazier when one cat, voiced by a white actor, sings with a non-descript Asian accent and plays the piano with a pair of chopsticks. It goes on to mock the Chinese language and culture by reducing it to racist soundbites like: “Shanghai, Hong Kong, Egg Foo Young. Fortune cookie always wrong.”

4. Swiss Family Robinson

The last on the list and the lesser-known (with good reason) is about pirates who antagonise the eponymous family and do so in line with stereotypical fashion which perpetuates the idea of the ‘foreign menace’.

Several characters appear in ‘yellow’ or ‘brown face’ and are generally portrayed in an exaggerated, caricatured fashion which paints them as barbaric outsiders.

As with Aristocats, they speak intentional gibberish and this, combined with cartoonish appearances, is supposed to represent any and all Asian and Middle Eastern languages.

Disney’s stance

These films have only been removed from kids’ profiles at present, so as not to impose problematic perceptions upon impressionable young minds.

Moreover, on the company’s own ‘Stories Matter‘ page, they set out a clear stance and statement on intent regarding past, present and future productions:

“We can’t change the past, but we can acknowledge it, learn from it and move forward together to create a tomorrow that today can only dream of.”

Whilst decisions like this are only the first step, we hope they are as committed to this cause as they say they are.