Disney+ releases and then sadly censors its media

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Photo courtesy of insidethemagic.net

On November 12, Disney released its streaming service, Disney+, with most of its massive catalog of media included. However, certain stereotypical pieces of film and shows will not be found by the average viewer because Disney, as a company, wants to conceal their media for the effort of not offending anyone. 

Throughout our time in school, we learn about history. Why? So, we don’t make the same mistakes again. And rather, we learn from them. Some Disney animations in the past were not okay. Examples included, and not limited to, racist stereotypes, anti-Semitic messages, and sexism. There is no mistake about it, but what good will come if we or the studios who made these cartoons choose to try to erase them, try to forget it, and clear it from our mind. Then we are doomed to create the same kind of ‘entertainment’ as in the past. 

Also, is it right to censor the creative works of people? One company, Warner Bros., does not censor its part cartoons. Warner Bros. owns Looney Toons which includes characters like Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, and many more iconic characters. In the past, some of their cartoons included the bad things mentioned before. When they released them to the public in the later years, instead of taking out everything that was offensive they would give this message before it started. “The cartoons you are about to see are products of their time,” the message says. “They may depict some of the ethnic and racial prejudices that were commonplace in American society. These depictions were wrong then and are wrong today…These cartoons are being presented as they were originally created because to do otherwise would be the same as claiming these prejudices never existed.”

One Disney film, that will not be included on Disney+, is the Song of the South. The film is about a former slave, Uncle Remus, recounting stories of Brer Rabbit, who is an animated rabbit in the film. Song of the South was released on November 12, 1946. In protest on the film’s release, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People(N.A.A.C.P) said that the film reinforced an ‘idyllic master-slave relationship”. 

 The actor who played Uncle Remus, James Baskett, won an Honorary Academy Award for his performance as Uncle Remus, and the movie won another Academy Award for the song, Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah. Despite these accolades, the movie will not be included on Disney+. A statement from Disney’s Chief Executive, Robert A. Iger, from the New York Times said, “Don’t expect to see it[Song of the South] again for at least a while — if ever.” Because the Song of the South is considered unacceptable by today, Disney seems to want to forget and want us to forget it even existed. 

Another piece of media that will be excluded is an episode of the Simpsons, “Stark Raving Dad.” It was the first episode of the third season of the Simpsons, and if you go and look for the episode on Disney+ it will not be there. In this episode, Homer Simpson is sent to a mental institution because he was mistaken for being an anarchist, and he shares a room with someone who claims to be and imitates Micheal Jackson with also a subplot about Lisa Simpson turning eight years old. This is not the first time this episode has been censored. Following HBO’s documentary Leaving Neverland, which documents the alleged acts of sexual abuse done by Michael Jackson, the episode stopped broadcasting after the documentary was released. It seems that Disney censored this episode for the same reason. As is common knowledge, the Simpsons go into different pop culture references and real-world themes. It is a main part of the show. So, Disney just censored an episode that has everything that is a usual episode of the Simpsons.

Another show that is owned by Disney that will most likely never be on the streaming service is Family Guy. After the FOX deal, Family Guy became one of the many properties that Disney now owns. What are they going to do with all the Disney jokes, Quagmire as a character, and all of the ‘offensive’ things in it? Are they just going to censor everything in it? Because eventually Disney+ members will want to stream Family Guy without getting Hulu. The main point of Disney+ is to be able to watch Disney properties, should they dictate which shows the audience wants to watch?  

We cannot forget that prejudices existed, and we should not censor people’s hard work just for not making a few people mad. It is up to the viewer to decide what they want to watch for their own reasons, and long-lasting studios like Disney, who have lived through the dark times in American history, should not censor what they made.