According to a New York Times article, Disney has apparently branded a number of its iconic characters as “possibly problematic” when sifting through its collection of content for films and shows to put on its streaming service.
Tinkerbell and Captain Hook from the iconic 1953 Disney animated film “Peter Pan” are reportedly among the characters who may require a disclaimer on the Disney+ streaming service due to their potential to perpetuate negative stereotypes.
According to the New York Times, Disney’s Tinker Bell, which is based on J. M. Barrie’s 1904 play “Peter Pan” and its 1911 novelization “Peter and Wendy,” has been criticized because Tinker Bell is envious of Peter Pan’s attention to Wendy and is “body-conscious.”
Captain Hook, who has a prosthetic hook where his hand should be, was apparently flagged because of his malicious nature, which exposes Disney to claims of bigotry towards disabled people.
According to the New York Times, Disney’s “Stories Matter” team was in charge of identifying potentially problematic characters and reporting their results to senior management.
Ursula the Sea Witch, from Disney’s 1989 animated classic “The Little Mermaid,” is another reported example of a possibly problematic Disney figure.
According to the New York Times, Disney’s crew was concerned that Ursula’s flamboyant conduct might be perceived as “queer-coded,” and thus homophobic.
Also, because Ursula had a dark complexion and a darker, light-purplish skin tone, she was apparently a target for critics who saw her as a possibly racist caricature.
When potential problematic information is detected and acknowledged, Disney’s “Stories Matter” team places cautions on the company’s content and products. Before the content is played, the warning appears.
The animated films “Aristocats” and “Dumbo” are two examples of content that Disney deems necessary to obtain the advisory.
A cat with slanted eyes and buck teeth is described by the team as “a racist stereotype of East Asian peoples” in Aristocats. The team notes that a crow murder in Dumbo is a “homage to racist minstrel shows, where white artists with blackened cheeks and ragged attire portrayed and humiliated enslaved Africans on Southern plantations.”
The team also issued an advisory warning for Peter Pan, claiming that the animated film portrays Native Americans in a stereotyped manner.
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After Peter Pan saves Princess Tiger Lily, the “Indians” and Peter Pan celebrate by “dancing, wearing headdresses, and other exaggerated tropes, a kind of ridicule and appropriation of Native peoples’ culture and imagery,” according to the team.
Third-party groups such as the African American Film Critics Association, GLAAD Media Institute, and the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, among others, advise the Stories Matter Team.