Disney+ Giveth, And Disney+ Taketh Away The Hot Shots! Movies

On the first of April, /Film reported that the 1991 Jim Abrahams spoof comedy "Hot Shots!" — a parody of "Top Gun" — and its 1993 sequel "Hot Shots! Part Deux" — a parody of "Rambo: First Blood Part II," and many others — would be made available on Disney+. "Hot Shots!" was one of the many films Disney acquired in their 2019 buyout of the 20th Century Fox library, and few films could have been more out-of-sync with Disney's careful managing of their own image. Disney was slick, clean, family-friendly, and earnest. "Hot Shots!" featured a scene wherein Valeria Golino cooks an egg, two strips of bacon, and an order of hash browns on her own stomach. 

The inclusion of "Hot Shots!" in the Disney+ library — a streaming service offering a very carefully curated (read: limited) selection of kid-friendly fare to the exclusion of a massive, massive catalogue of Fox and Disney films the studio appears to be deliberately withholding — seemed like something of a bold move for a brand-protective company like Disney. Kids everywhere would now be able to enjoy an off-color PG-13-rated comedy as opposed to violent PG-13-rated fantasy action pictures. 

As reported in TechCrunch, however, it looks like the inclusion of "Hot Shots!" on Disney+ was an error, and the films have already been taken down after a mere week on the channel. The posting of "Hot Shots!" was, according to TechCrunch, an error on Disney+'s part, as the film was intended only for release on its service in Canada. Also briefly announced and retracted (and also available in Canada), was the film "Kiss of the Dragon," an R-rated 2001 action film with Jet Li.


Although Disney+ features numerous PG-13-rated films, the service is notorious for censoring some of their work. The 1984 movie "Splash" caused a, um, splash when the version released on Disney+ featured a new blanket of digital hair covering a character's bare bottom. The f-word was also removed from the 1987 comedy "Adventures in Babysitting" and the 2018 mountain climbing documentary "Free Solo." The 1967 Roddy McDowall film "The Adventures of Bullwhip Griffin" had some racist language edited out as well.

The f-word will not be found anywhere else on Disney+, except in several Marvel-related TV shows originally produced by Netflix. However, in order to have their MCU all in one place, Disney+ elected to include the more notoriously violent "Daredevil," "Jessica Jones," "Luke Cage," and others on their service, with special parental controls in place. Violent content seems to have been given more leeway than sexual humor or naughty language.

When Warner Bros. released a complete DVD collection of their "Merrie Melodies" and "Looney Tunes" shorts from the 1930s through the 1950s, they included multiple shorts that featured racist imagery. Each short was presented with a disclaimer that such stereotypes were not okay then, and that they were not okay now, but ignoring the shorts would be to pretend that racism never existed. Warner Bros. was careful to include context to their short films, but Disney seems loathe to include disclaimers on their content, as rewriting their own history seems to be easier or preferable to them. 

A film wherein Saddam Hussein fights with a lightsaber may have been too far out on the edge for Disney — at least in the United States — and "Hot Shots Part Deux" was removed. The corporate monolith withholds again. 


Disney's carefully guarded, conservative approach to releasing material with even the slightest sexual edge comes at a time in the United States when media scrutiny is at a particularly viscous high. The recent Pixar movie "Turning Red" was met with controversy for being explicit about the nascent sexuality of a 13-year-old girl; she doodles shirtless pictures of a crush, there are references to tampons, etc. 

Conservative groups like the Parents Television and Media Council (PTC) have penned open letters to Disney insisting that the company keep everything on their service as gentle and edge-free as possible. Any mention of sexuality or queerness is a bugaboo, and the inclusion of any R- or TV-MA-rated content is seen as a violation of trust in the company. Disney seems to be in a constant state of capitulating to freelance groups of "concerned parents." The founder of the PTC, L. Brent Bozell III, has written conspiracy theory books about how the 2020 election was stolen as well as other inflammatory ultraconservative titles.

In inclusion of "Hot Shots!" might have stood as a bold stance; a new way to share silly, raunchy comedies with your eighth grade child, approved by Disney+. Their removal of "Hot Shots!" feels like a step back. 

Despite what censorship-minded purity councils write, however, Disney+ is still including "Daredevil" on their service, which features some of the most brutal violence to be found in any mainstream superhero entertainment. Ultimately, it will be the company's choice. And if their subscribers want them to be less stingy about their content, then — by gum — they just might.